Reaching 100!

It’s been over a year since That’s All I Got! became reality. Since then 175 books have been in my personal inventory waiting for good homes to readers to inspire and educate. For a long time, 99 books have waited for 1 more to join them out into the world. That day arrived. On May 1, 2015, book #100 found a home!

It took a lot of time and effort to reach this milestone and I began to think it wouldn’t arrive. Here’s proof that patience does pay off. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible and to those who help share the message the book holds.

There’s too many innocent lives lost to the completion of suicide every year due to mental illness. There’s too many stories that need telling to help prevent another life lost and to educate others about mental illness and suicide. I’m surprised how many people have had their lives touched in some way due to a suicide loss. Just today, I listened as someone shared the story of another life lost to suicide, and this person asked questions that most people don’t due to the stigma still surrounding suicide. Help break this stigma-speak the story/journey-help others-share the message.

Out of the Darkness – Why we walk

Every year since 2009, the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, in Milwaukee leads me to help educate others and prevent suicide loss. In February 2015, I received an email from the walk chairperson announcing the date of the 2015 walk on October 4th. Having a secure date and location early allows more time to create awareness for the walk and promoting what it’s about. Even though more people sign up to walk, it brings a certain sadness for why we walk in the first place.

Before the walk, during check-in and registration, we receive honor beads to wear that represent why and who we’re walking for. Everyone wears blue beads to support the cause. In addition to those, I wear the red beads because I lost a spouse. This morning I realized that this year, I’ll also have purple beads representing the loss of a friend; my neighbor, Michael, completed suicide on February 11, 2015 after years of battling depression and other demons.

Here’s a listing from the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for all the honor color beads:

White – Lost a Child
Red – Lost a Spouse or Partner
Gold – Lost a Parent
Orange – Lost a Sibling
Purple – Lost a Relative or Friend
Silver – Lost First Responder / Military
Green – Struggled Personally
Blue – Support the Cause
Teal – Friends and Family of Someone Who Struggles

I discovered on Twitter this week through the National Institute of Mental Health @NIMHgov that “Suicide research is critically underfunded in the U.S.” and linked the Action Alliance Press Release article on the subject. We walk to help fund the research and education about suicide and how to prevent it from happening. Every week we watch the news to hear about another death by the completion to suicide in the U.S. or abroad from a child to an adult as a result of bullying, depression, another mental illness whether known or unknown. We need to step up and support the cause and prevent innocent lives from being lost!

Every year I form the team, Walking foRuss, and every year I walk. I may not have other people walking with me, but I walk with other friends’ teams to offer support and then to receive it. We all for a reason…we lost or know someone who lost someone to a disease still surrounded by stigma. Please help break the silence.

Out of the Darkness walks

Milwaukee Community Walk

Support me and team Walking foRuss

Prevent Suicide: A story

Last night I received a phone call from a friend seeking reassurance that she did the right thing.

She had received a message from a friend who threatened to potentially harm himself as a result of a job loss. Not knowing if he was serious or not, she took the initiative and called the police. The police went over to his residence for questioning and later took him to a safe place for evaluation. Because of her concern, he no longer wants contact/friendship with her.

After she told me what happened, she asked if she did the right thing. I informed her that she did. Had she not called the police and he would have inflicted self-harm, she’d carry the guilt for not doing her part to help him.

What’s worse: carrying the guilt around forever or losing a friendship?

I’m proud of her for doing the right thing. She potentially saved another persons life.

She sought me out because I have been on this journey even though I’ve never been in her shoes.

Please,  if you’re contemplating completing suicide or self-harm reach out to a friend, relative, or trusted individual. If you’re the friend, relative, or trusted individual, do the right thing and trust your instincts. You too can help save a life.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Preventing Suicide

Are people afraid?

On Sunday, September 14, 2014, the day after National Suicide Prevention Week ended, I hosted a table for a Little Free Library Grand Opening. A total of seven authors hosted tables at the event held at a church. The event last for 2.5 hours.

Disappointed came when I only sold one book. While the author next to me matched my one sale, he received more visits to his table. I think everyone had more visits/interests than my book did. I started to wonder if people are afraid of my book?

At the Health Fair a couple of weeks before, people stopped at the table (I sold three books at that event). During a church picnic people barely stopped by. The tables I’ve hosted a couple of my church functions were pretty quiet, but I sold more books. Go figure, then again the parishioners knew me and my journey.

Yes, a stigma still surrounds suicide. Some people won’t talk about it and others believe it’s a selfish act and not caused by a mental illness. People don’t always talk about things they don’t know much about especially if it’s only brought up when tragedy occurs and/or it’s covered in the media.

What are your thoughts? Do you think people are afraid to buy the book due to fear of what they might learn? Are they worried about what other people think if conversation around suicide entails? Conversations don’t hurt people, but sitting around and ignoring an issue that’s affecting more people, that isn’t going away, can hurt people.

Stand Up For Life

Over the weekend I watched the one hour telethon for Stand Up To Cancer. The stories and music touch the hearts and souls of everyone watching, pledging, and standing up to cancer–any and all. One person. It takes only one to get the idea to stand up as one to support a cause.

If one person after one person stood up for every cause, you’d have a domino effect. Then every cause would receive recognition and create awareness worldwide.

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All this week and everyday, I stand up for suicide prevention. This week has been designated to National Suicide Prevention Week. On Friday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) asks you to wear your AFSP, Out of the Darkness Walks, or Sevenly shirt(s) and take a selfie to stand up to suicide prevention. Just take a photo and post it to Twitter and/or Instagram with hashtag #selfiesagainststigma!

Stigma still surrounds suicide and it’s past time that this barrier got broken. The more people become educated on suicide prevention and understand that suicide occurs for many reasons with the main underlying reason being mental illness, the more lives can be saved. Do your part and STAND UP to preventing suicide.

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