In today's guest post, ReachOut Council member Brandon shares a powerful story of speaking out, taking action and rallying around the important cause of suicide prevention. Check it out and be sure to read his bio at the end of the post.
Suicide prevention has always been close to my heart because of my own personal struggles, but also because of the loss of my sister. Last month, I took my suicide prevention and mental health advocacy to the next level. On June 1-2, I participated in the Overnight Walk for Suicide Prevention by the AFSP. I planned to make this trip and journey with my dad back in April and through April and May I campaigned to my family, friends, and colleagues about how important suicide prevention and mental health awareness were. By making a video and also by spreading my message by word of mouth I was able to raise more than I ever thought I could totaling just over $2,000.
When the time came for my dad and I to head to Washington, D.C. the actual event was possibly the most enlightening experience of my life. With just over 1,500 people in attendance from around the country and world, I was able to see mass advocacy in a whole new light. The event offered time for grieving, reflection, and empowerment. We were also challenged to empower others and spread the word of how important mental health is. One of the most unique experiences during my experience was the honor beads that everyone collected. Each color reflected a different loss. When walking through the national mall, it was pretty powerful to look around and see how many people were wearing beads and how suicide affects so many people.
One of the main things that I gained from this experience was that suicide is something that needs to be talked about. Many times after someone completes suicide, the surviors (those directly affected by the loss) don't talk about it for many different reasons. Some may feel some guilt because they feel they could have done something to prevent the tragedy that rocked their world or they just have so many questions and feel overwhelmed. It was reinforced to us that night that it is okay to talk about it. It's perfectly healthy and that's actually what our county needs. Dialogue needs to be had in order for things to change. We need to speak up.
My mission in life is work towards a world where suicide doesn't exist. You can join me in that mission. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to share. Share your stories, share this article or ReachOut, or just share your care for the cause. It all starts with a conversation and that can be started by you.
Another way to get involved is to volunteer. Whether in person or online, volunteering can be a lot easier than you think and the benefits of your generosity of service are immeasurable. Together we can make a difference and save lives.
For more information, check out these fact sheets
When someone takes their own life: how you might feel
When your friend is talking about suicide
What to when your friend is distressed
Hey there, my name is Brandon Rohlwing. I am 19 years old and am currently a first year undergrad student at Roosevelt University. Living in heart of Chicago, I am pursuing two degrees: Sociology and Business. When I graduated I want to follow my passion by working in the nonprofit industry; specifically in the area of suicide prevention and mental health awareness. When I am not occupied with my schoolwork, I can be found exploring the city or hanging out with my friends. My current obsessions include Doctor Who, One Direction, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is my third year with Inspire and I look forward to continuing to help those who are going through struggles just like I have, and helping them realize: I’ve been there. I’ve made it through. And I am now stronger than I ever thought I was before."