Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over!

In June of 2016, I submitted a story through Project Semicolon for publication into a book that’s being designed to relate to young people 18-25 years old. According to the original email before I wrote and submitted my story told us this, “We have joined forces with HarperCollins to bring forth a book with stories and pictures of those who found the hope to continue their story. This book is being designed to be relatable to young adults in the age range of 18-25 years old. We are asking that all stories when written keep that age range in mind”. My story did just that and included the name of my book, That’s All I Got! Thrival: A Widow’s Journey After Suicide, because a lot of young people deal with suicide on a regular basis, especially when dealing with the pressures of college and the military.

I hadn’t heard back from Project Semicolon about my submission that is until Thursday night, February 9, 2017. I received an email from HarperCollins with a subject line of: “Your story has been selected for the Project Semicolon book!”. To quote the email, “Together with Project Semicolon, we are writing to let you know that your story has been selected to be included in our upcoming book, PROJECT SEMICOLON: YOUR STORY ISN’T OVER! HarperCollins is publishing the book on September 5th later this year. We are very excited to be including your submission, and we are grateful for the time and effort you put into creating it—you are helping to spread an incredibly important message all over the world…Please keep an eye on Project Semicolon’s social media in the coming months for more information on publication info, events, where you can purchase a copy of the book, and how you can tell people about this amazing project”.

It’s very exciting news! It’s also proof that patience and perseverance pays off. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the book in the coming months and I’ll share that information. Project Semicolon’s mission via their Facebook page is “Project Semicolon is a global non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire”. I encourage you to look it up and share its mission.

Suicide Prevention Week & Day 2015

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This week, September 7-13, 2015, is National Suicide Prevention week. You too can do your part to help prevent suicide. When you become educated about mental illness and suicide prevention, you help save a life or more from being lost to the completion of suicide.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015 is World Suicide Prevention Day. People will come together around the world to help prevent suicide. You can do your part by wearing blue, and placing a lit candle in a window at 8pm.

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I’m hosting a spot at a health and wellness fair to share my journey and to have copies of That’s All I Got! available for sale.

On October 4, 2015, I’m walking in the Milwaukee Out of the Darkness walk for education and prevention. You too can join and/or support a walk in your area. Let’s work to #stopsuicide ! #BeTheVoice #TalkSavesLives

Expanding Awareness

Canada this week (May 4-10, 2015) recognizes mental health as part of Mental Health week #getloud. This week has a place on the calendar every year just as the United States has mental health awareness week. The U.S. also has May designated as Mental Heath Month  #MHMonth2015.

Thanks to advice from a friend who suggested that I connect with Tweeters that relate to the book and my cause. I started doing this in the U.S. and Canada since everyone everywhere deals with mental health issues and needs to create awareness on suicide prevention. Last night, I received a notification on my smartphone about tweets regarding mental health week in Canada. I chose to browse the tweets and I found one from a Tweeter that also started following me: Wellness Mindfulness @911well

Instantly, I knew I had to favorite and retweet this message and I chose to add a message: ” Let’s talk about suicide! Stigma surrounds it & we need to break it!

Not only did I choose to share this on Twitter, but also on my facebook page and the walls for the Milwaukee Out of the Darkness walk facebook page and my own event page for the walk.

I didn’t know that the retweet would receive such a positive response. Besides the followers I have the hashtags reached further. Hashtags, universally used, may relate to programs, events, life, and anything you can think of and they’re reused over and over. I chose #suicideprevention because it’s something I believe in. I chose #MentalHealthWeek because that’s what’s happening in Canada this week. I’m thankful that through technology people reach across states, countries, borders, continents…across the world…to share messages. I expanded awareness to many people in another country. To reach out to those in need for hope and promise expands knowledge and knowledge helps prevent and cure illnesses, dis-ease, and innocent lives from being lost to the completion of suicide. I feel blessed to have received the opportunity to change lives.

#breakthestigma #suicideprevention #mentalhealth

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