Blogging has been such a great outlet for me. This community has given more to me than I could have ever imagined. I am so grateful to have a place to voice ideas and even some random ramblings. For a while I’ve been thinking that I have a great opportunity to also use my voice to help others and create awareness. So today’s post is different from my usual. It is one that I hope helps somebody out there. Your time is valuable and I so appreciate you taking the time to read this today.
It used to be that I would donate to any and every cause, then reality set in and I realized that if I wanted to pay the bills, I needed to really focus on causes that are meaningful to me and not feel guilty when I don’t donate every time I’m asked. Unfortunately if it’s meaningful to me, it usually means that something misfortunate has happened to someone in my life.
Ten years ago, my dear friend Laura lost her brother to suicide. Unfortunately, Laura is not the only person in my life that has been struck by this tragedy. The sad truth is that a suicide attempt happens every minute of every day and someone in the U.S. dies by suicide every 16 minutes.
For the past four years, Laura has honored her brother in the Out of Darkness Walk. Thousands of walkers gather from all over to walk 18 miles through the night starting at 8:00 pm and ending around 3:30 am. This year the walk is on June 9th in San Francisco. It will be Laura’s fifth year walking and I have yet to join her in the walk. One day I will walk with her, but for now, I want to help any way I can. I’ve asked Laura to share more with us about the Out of the Darkness Walk and what it does for suicide prevention and those touched by suicide.
I would say that what I find important about doing this walk and contributing to this cause is to help to break the stigma of suicide and mental illness. For many years, families have been living with the tragedy of a suicide of a family member or someone who suffered with mental illness and kept it a secret because they felt it was something to be ashamed of. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has helped to bring this stigma "out of the darkness", and into mainstream conversation. Additionally, with their research, they are helping to detect depression and mental illness at an earlier stage so that interventions can be used. They are also helping to bring materials to schools, such as educational movies and teaching materials, so that students and parents are aware of the signs of potential suicide.
In my own experience, the Out of the Darkness Walk has provided me with an opportunity to heal; to meet a community of people with similar experiences, to bridge conversations about my own family's tragedy, and to share with family members and friends the opportunity to create something positive in its' wake. Each year I have been amazed by the generosity, support, and kindness both of the donors and of my fellow teammates who make such a financial effort as well as a time commitment to be a part of the walk.
Laura has seven members on her team. To be able to walk, each team member must raise $1,000. Three of her team members have met their goal, but there are still four members that need to reach their goal to walk.
My hope today is not to make you feel guilty or obligated to donate, but to create awareness, provide resources for people and help break the stigma of suicide. There are so many causes out there that it’s impossible to help them all out, but if this is something that touches your heart and you would like to donate, please go to Tommy J’s Pit Crew page on the Out of the Darkness website. This page will list Laura’s teammates and the amount raised for each team member. If you choose to donate, please choose team members who have not yet reached $1,000. Any donation is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to read this today.