Last year about this time I was walking 16 miles through the night around the streets of Dallas. I participated in my first American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Overnight Walk. Thousands of people joined together to raise money (a minimum of $1,000 each) and awareness about suicide. It was not a race because when you are talking about suicide, it is not a competition and everyone is a winner for being brave and giving a voice to the issue.
My sister will tell you, I am prone to hyperbole. I claim I just feel my emotions deeply so only the most descriptive words will do. Regardless, I mean it when I say a year ago was one of the most moving, impactful experiences of my life. It was the first time I felt complete peace and acceptance about my mom’s suicide. The thousands of others walking that night also had loved ones die by suicide or they themselves struggled with depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. Each person wearing a shirt with the names of those impacted by suicide on the back. We cheered for each other, we cried with one another,and we found strength in giving our grief a voice.
As I have mentioned numerous times, I am tired of suicide being stigmatized. I am tired of people being fearful that by talking about it will cause others to attempt. I am tired of reading and hearing about another person feeling so helpless they don’t see another option. I am tired of hurting for those who will walk a similar road as myself trying to make sense of someone dying by suicide.
This week the CDC came out with a report about the increase in suicide over the last ten years. When all the other major killers in our country have decreased, suicide has been on the rise. I want to also point out, those other major killers have received considerably more funding from the government for research while suicide continues to lag behind in funding support. That is why it is important to raise money for this cause. AFSP has stepped up to say more research is needed and fund much of it. They have developed and offer prevention programs and they lovingly offer programs to those who have lost loved ones to suicide. When I ask for donations it is not just because I am walking, it is because lives depend on the money raised.
After I walked last year, I had no words to describe my experience and today I continue to struggle to fully verbalize the remarkable moment. I knew then that walk was going to be the first of many and on June 4 I will be walking again only this time in NYC. This walk is different. While I continue to remember my mom when I walk, this has become so much bigger. I didn’t pick this cause, it picked me, and I will not rest until those who suffer are viewed the same and receive the same support as others. I will not be silent until the stigma is gone and those who struggle feel no shame in voicing their concerns. I will keep raising money until suicide prevention receives the same funding as other major killers. I will keep walking until we #stopsuicide. I will LOVE LOUDER.
Please support AFSP. No amount is too small. http://theovernight.donordrive.com/participant/amylgrosso