We’ll See You Tomorrow

World Suicide Prevention Day.

Four years ago, September 10 took on a whole new meaning. Every year I stop and reflect on my life, the lives of those I love, and I think about how grateful I am to still be here. And I light a candle for those who are no longer here.

I think about Luke and the life we missed out on. I think about the stories I’ve heard through the creation of this blog over the past four years. I run down the list of names I’ve heard and say a prayer for all of those who’s stories I haven’t heard.

Last year I added another name to that list: Shawn. This was my current boyfriend’s uncle – he was 19 when he took his life. Two weeks ago, I took the time to sit down with his mom and we talked about the stigma that surrounds the topic of suicide. Decades have passed since his death and, although some progress has been made, it’s not enough.

The topic of suicide scares people. Rightfully so. But just because it scares you doesn’t mean you should avoid it. People often think that, if they don’t talk about it, they can pretend that it’s not happening. Or, if it’s not talked about, ideas aren’t given to the individuals who might attempt or complete suicide. But that’s not the case. Suicides are happening. All around us. 800,000 people die each year due to suicide. This isn’t an issue that can be swept under the rug any longer.

So my challenge for you today is this: Take action. Talk about what today means. Share with someone that today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Share my blog, add a TWLOHA link on your social media sites, or share resources for someone to reach out to if they are depressed or suicidal.

Don’t let this day, or any day for that matter, pass you by without trying to make a difference.




Let’s Talk.

As summer nears an end and many students and teachers are gearing up for another school year, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of depression.

With the rise of social media incorporated into everyone’s daily lives (mine included) it can be easy to display a confident, happy façade. Instead of pretending that the world is full of butterflies and rainbows, let’s focus on having real conversations that matter.

I read stories about depression and suicide on a weekly basis, each one hitting close to home and reminding me of a time and place in my own life when these thoughts and feelings were all too familiar. Today I read a New York Times article shedding light on depression and suicide among students. It pains me to see that, since 2007, suicide rates among 15-24 year-olds have increased. I forget sometimes that, as willing as I am to talk about these subjects, they are still very much taboo, especially to our youth.

That’s why I love reading about non-profits like Active Minds or TWLOHA becoming more and more active on campuses across the U.S. I love reading articles like this one, a major newspaper, willing to tackle topics that are so important to talk about. We’re all aware that these topics make so many people uncomfortable and can be hard to open up about, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the conversation.

This article focused heavily on the use of social media and the effect it has on youth. Sure, a smiling selfie might look great, but do you really know what’s going on in that person’s mind? Instead of constantly posting on Facebook or Snapchatting, have a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Open up about your bad days with your roommate or close friends. I’m guilty of closing off others in light of having a difficult conversation, but maybe this is something we need to challenge ourselves with.

Talk about the things that hurt.

Share the things that upset you.

Ask for help when you need it.

And take the posts you see on social media with a grain of salt. Maybe we’re all just trying to put on a Face to make it seem like we’re not living in some dark, tortured world. Maybe our lives aren’t as happy and perfect as we make them appear on Instagram. And if that’s the case … it’s okay.

If you see someone shutting down, please speak up. If you don’t have a story of your own to share, then share Kathryn DeWitt’s story or share mine, but we need to keep talking about suicide and depression. We need to let the youth of this world know that there is a life possible outside of depression and suicide does not have to be the answer.

Giving Back

It still catches me off guard when I see someone wearing a TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) shirt or sporting a bumper sticker. It always takes me back to the first time I heard about this organization and realized how much of an impact speaking up about suicide, depression, and self-harm can actually make.

If you’re feeling generous this week and want to support a great cause, log on to the Sevenly website and support TWLOHA with your purchase.

World Suicide Prevention Day

For a very long time, most of my teens at least, the word suicide made me nervous. I didn’t know how other people would react to the word, and I just hoped they couldn’t see my cheeks turn red, or ask me any questions. The thought of talking about it openly among others made my stomach churn and it was almost unimaginable. To do this day, I still find it easier to share my story with strangers than with close friends or family. The stigma of this topic is still so prevalent today.

But I’ve always liked a challenge.

I grew up as a pretty timid person, I was scared of dogs for the first ten years of my life and the thought of jumping out of a plane when I was in high school never crossed my mind. But eventually I grew up. I became slightly obsessed with any and all dogs, eventually having my own. And one of the best birthday presents I have ever received was a trip to go skydiving. I overcame my fears. So I figured, if I could make steps toward facing some of the things that scared me most, even if they were small, then I could talk about suicide. I could share my own story. Those things matter far more than an adrenaline rush or owning my own pet.

But even as I sit here now, my hands still shake a little as I think about opening up further. As I think about the people, mainly the ones I know, that will stumble across this post. I still have fears about how others will view me if they know my past. If they really get the chance to see the person that I am or the things that I’ve been through. And then I think about all of the stories I’ve heard about people who didn’t get a chance to share their story or who’s life could have been positively affected if they had known they weren’t alone in their battle; that people have been down these roads before them.

So here I am. Saying that I am a survivor. And that I’ve known many people who have struggled, and some who didn’t make it to overcome their struggle. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. If you’ve struggled with suicide or depression, that is just part of the story that makes you unique. And stronger.

Today, and this week, notice the people who are wearing yellow in support of those who are struggling and notice those who are writing “love” on their arms. Share your story, or be willing to listen to someone tell you their story. Who knows, it could save a life.