My work in suicide prevention these past eight years has given me a true appreciation for life. Each person I have met during this journey has made a permanent impact in my life and they have given to me more than what I could ever give them. Some wonder how I can work in the area of suicide prevention and yet be so happy all the time. The truth is that when you have looked into the eyes of a 14-year old who shares with you the darkest moment in their life, you tend to see your problems and worries in a different light. I will never forget the day I was called to meet with a young boy who turned in his "Yellow Ribbon Ask 4 Help Card" after a group of kids told him about what they learned during the presenation I gave (he didn't attend due to being suspended) and shared the message that they wanted him to talk to an adult, because they cared about him. The boy then ran to the bathroom and hid behind the door, while the school councelor and teachers came to his aide. The school called and asked if I would come and see him. Sitting in a chair with his head down and tears streaming over his cheecks he told me about the pain he felt and his want to not live anymore. Next he described how he had made a plan to take his life and had already written a suicide note. After chatting for a while about music and art I asked him why he ran and hid behind the bathroom door? He looked up and said that up until that moment in his life he felt invisible and didn't even realize the other kids in school even knew his name. He pointed to his chest and said that knowing everyone cared made him get this "warm weird" feeling and he didn't know what else to do but run and hide.
That "warm weird" feeling was the acknowledgement that he was someone and had meaning in this world. It was a feeling he never experienced, but one that he said made him feel good inside. Then he said experiencing that feeling made him relieved he didn't take his own life. Through support from his school and family, he received the professional help needed. I met up with him a few years ago and he was doing well for himself. As he walked away he smiled, looked back and said, "thank you" to which I replied, "no, thank you." We exchanged a high-five and both went on our way. I often remember him and can't help but think about the thousands of people who walk around feeling as he once did "invisible." So many of us live in a world surrounded by people and with hundreds of "friends' on social media sites, but sit at home still feeling alone. From this story, I hope to share the message that you are never alone and to never lose hope. As they say, "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." While your troubles may seem never ending, things do and will get better with time. Most importantly, we should never be afraid to ask or get help. We're not perfect. We're only human.
I hope to connect with people from all walks of life to share the research, experiences, and stories I have come across since beginning my path to learn more about mental health. What can I say? I love the brain, people, and life! It feels so good to finally know that the information being held captive inside the giant box sitting in the corner of my apartment will now serve its true purpose. It sure has been an eye sore to see each morning, but has served as a constant reminder of things I have left to complete on my to-do list of life. Now, the only hard part is trying to decide just where to begin (hence the inspiration for my first blog post dated July 23, 2011).
So- don't ever stop believing in yourself, your dreams, and all that your heart desires and remember that a dream is a wish your heart makes.