This past weekend I was privileged to be a part of the Kansas City Out of the Darkness Community Walk for Suicide Prevention. I was honored to be a part of the committee that worked to put the event together and I was blessed by the whole experience. I gave my first public “speech”, at least formally considered such, and I think it went quite well. The turn-out was rather small, quaint, and intimate. The weather was cold, almost frigid for October in Kansas City, but my heart was warmed…
I felt the warmth of love from family members there to support me and the walk. I felt the warmth of those present who needed this day, this event and occasion as an opportunity to honor a loved one and their memory. It was a warm experience, despite the frigid air, and one that I hope you may be inspired to participate in within your own community. Find one here, or find out how you can bring one to your area if there isn’t one already!
I thought I would share with you my speech, words from my heart that you might enjoy:
I’m here today for so many reasons…the most important of which is hope. A broad term, I know…but hope is what keeps me going and quite possibly what keeps you going as well.
I hope… I hope for you, for me, for my family, for your family, for strangers and for friends, for people near and far… I hope for a new understanding of suicide and what brings us humans to contemplate the taking our own life. I hope for a new understanding of what we can do to prevent the further loss of lives to suicide.
But, I haven’t always had hope and some days I do have to fight for it.
Just a little over 3 years ago, I had lost all hope, and it was not for the first time in my life…but it sure felt like it would be the last. I have suffered from depression and other mental health issues since a young age, and had been recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I was married, with two beautiful young children, living the suburban life…but I was miserable, desperate for relief from the emotional and physical pain I was suffering.
I felt as if I was truly a burden to all around me, unable to live the life I wanted, unable to be the parent or spouse that I dreamed of being, feeling as if I fell short in literally all areas of my life, I was hopeless. I felt as if the only way to help myself and my loved ones was by taking myself out of the picture, this was the only solution I could see. My mind was sick and I was unable to think of alternatives. I overdosed on medication one August day and ended up spending a little more than a month hospitalized in the trauma unit of an area mental health facility.
On my journey towards health and wellness, it wasn’t until a year ago that I found my way to this cause of Suicide Prevention, it was then, and after participating in last years Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Kansas City, that I realized I might have something to offer to this cause. I feel so passionate now about having the opportunity to cuddle my kids each day and continue the relationships in my life. I feel passionate about sharing the reality that those feelings of joy are possible again. I feel blessed to, although challenged in many ways, embrace life to the best of my ability with all that I can now. And I feel passionate about sharing my story and the story of hope.
I know that many of you here today have lost loved ones and you are here in large part to honor their memory. I, too, have lost loved ones to suicide. My grandfather died by suicide a little more than 10 years ago. I have also lost friends to suicide. I see and acknowledge the great pain on both sides of this coin and yet… I do have hope.
I see that in our efforts to honor our loved ones, and to even honor our own individual struggles, we can offer hope to the many who feel none… those who are suffering, those who are yet to suffer and those who suffer as a result…we can offer this because we are working to prevent this from happening in the future, we are working to spread awareness and share the importance of talking about this issue of suicide and the many issues surrounding it.
I think of the person who dies by suicide every 16 minutes in the United States, and the million that dies worldwide each year… and my heart aches because I know the pain personally, the same pain my grandfather felt, the same pain my cousin felt as he has made suicide attempts, and perhaps the same pain that your loved one felt. But also, beyond that ache, there is a shimmer… a shimmer of hope for the future, and my heart feels lighter because I know that we are all a part of that hope, together, and with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.