I meant to start posting on Sunday, for the official start date of National Suicide Prevention Week #nspw however, time got the best of me, and I wasn’t able to.
If you are at all aware of NSPW you know that it is day 3! This year, I was only planning on creating portraits, and sharing my story through images and words on my blog. But a dear friend of mine, Brian, reached out and asked me if I would like to be apart of something bigger, with my schedule already being packed I wasn’t sure how much more I could take on. I sat on it for only an hour or so and decided this week only comes once a year, I can speak up whenever, but this week in particular is meant for victims and survivors. I am a survivor, and I knew that I couldn’t ignore the offer.
Brain told me that the reason he came to me was because he knew my story, and he thought that I could touch someones life in the Minneapolis area. What Brian does is remarkable, he travels to teens all across the country, and speaks up about suicide. He never attempted himself, but has encountered several suicides that affected him directly, and so he brings in people he knows from the areas he is in that have attempted, or had thoughts and then asks them to share their stories. That is where I came in. I told him in the very beginning, that speaking in front of groups, and writing are not my strongest qualities, and that there is a huge possibility that I will choke, or speak in a twisted mess and no one will understand me. That is when he told me “I understand that these are not your strongest qualities, so I would like you to bring your photography, let that speak for you first, and then open up, speak up and know that at least one of these teens will listen, and they will be captured and will admire you.” He was so right, and I just knew at that moment that my story had a purpose, and maybe not the biggest purpose in the world but a big enough one to share and hope that someone was listening, and that it could help.
As of today I have sat down with teens from 5 different schools in small groups and discussed my story, life, and their stories. I have viewed my photography to over 350 students on a big screen and expressed who I am through my photographs. As of today, 37 teens have approached me and said “Thank you” and as of today, my life has forever changed.
As a teen, I held a benefit show for To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) and raised money for the non-profit organization. I actually put together and hosted one, and put together another one while my two friends hosted it because I had moved. My church at the time was more than willing to let me host it there, and I had local bands that played. It was one of the first times in my life where I stood in front of a group of people and shared my story, however looking back, I was sharing my story while I was going through it still. You have a much better perception a few years after, and can share much easier with a bigger heart, because you really understand, you know how you have conquered your troubles. After you have healed you can tell your story in a much better light, and actually be there to help someone. That was something I learned about myself just recently, and I am so blessed to have gone through what I have in order to do what I have been doing.
Maybe you’re wondering what my story is if you don’t know already, and if you are thank you, for your curiosity, and the willing to read about it. I will be posting an entirely different post that shares my story, that I will later link to this post, and I will link other places as well. So keep an eye out if you are curious, and I love to hear your story, and what makes you, you. If your someone who feels the need to speak up about your history, please don’t hesitate. Speaking up is one of the most rejuvenating things, and not for yourself, but for the feeling that you’re helping someone, even if it is one person, someone is listening.
Again, I am no writer no matter how much I wish I was, that’s where my photographs come in. But in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week I have decided to take a chance and write my story, other than just telling it..
Thanks again Brian for giving me this opportunity this week, and I am so excited to continue “Speaking Up”