Things happen for a reason…
I hear it all the time… things happen for a reason. There is no reason for some things to happen. I don’t care what reason you can come up with. I don’t care what religion you can put behind it. I don’t care what grand scheme you can back it with. Sometimes, the reason simply just doesn’t exist.
I posted on my personal Facebook feed a few days ago about how we have had several months of silence in our area as far as youth and youth suicide goes. I posted about how it felt knowing that we had done such a good job in helping our community. We have had a few suicides, mostly in areas that we have not worked in. All of them have been in adults. One really disappointing thing was that we approached one local business about sponsorship and they declined… and 2-3 months later one of their employees died by suicide. I find myself thinking constantly how cool it would have been if they had gotten onboard… and really pushed us to help them, not because they felt like they needed help, but instead because they did not ever want to need help. How great it would have been if they had supported us, and in turn asked us to come out and talk to them and their employees…maybe once, maybe once a month… it wouldn’t matter to us how often it was. I would just love to see a business get involved like that and use a local resource in a way that I have not seen before.
I can’t help but wonder if that had happened if this young person might have reached out to us. Would he still be here? I am not laying blame on this business. Moreso myself than any other person. Maybe if I had pushed this business more than just dropping off a business card, then maybe they would have agreed to something very small like $25 a month, or just not donated at all but asked if we would mind coming back to talk to their staff one weekend, or weekday. Maybe that person would have then gained a resource and the courage he would have needed to use it.
We have operated in silence for a while now. There have been very few people contacting us with issues. When they do, it is self-harm or cutting problems. They are calling us because they have friends who are abusing drugs or alcohol. We do help those people. We do everything that we can to get those people what they need because often times those issues lead to problems that in turn lead to suicide. We have had more “follow-up” calls letting us know how things have progressed for people we have worked with in the past than we have had new calls. Things have been going superbly well for us.
Today I learned that a few days ago, a 21-year-old youth took his own life in our area. Very close to where we live in fact. Just by happenstance, I was sitting here talking to a mom (for the first time in months) who is concerned about her child. I was getting her set up with the best solutions I could think of for her particular situation. I mentioned to her that today was turning into a nightmare for me.
While I was working with her, I had to take an emergency situation for a mother in Brisbane, Australia. I can’t give any information because ethically we put confidentiality at the very top when dealing with anyone. I will tell you that the only option the parent in Australia had was the contact police…and she did. I hope to get back good news from her soon.
After finishing with the Australia crisis, I found out about the suicide here in Gilbertsville. It is so close. The first woman I was already talking to was also about as close. She is not in a crisis situation; she is just concerned. It is really good to see a parent being proactive and acting before something turns into a crisis.
The thing is, though, it only took one of those three to really make me feel like we had failed. We have had months of feeling like we were on top of the world. Then suddenly we lose one youth in our area, and it all comes crashing down. Maybe if I had some way of getting the word out that we are here. If we had more funding to do some advertising. If I could afford to get the van we want to get, get it wrapped and start using it as an advertising tool. If we would have met our fund-raising goal to get ASIST training, and then ASIST T4T training so that we could start pushing suicide intervention skills training back into the community. All of the things I want to accomplish start wailing on me, nagging at me and making me feel like I had dropped the ball.
We are still less than a year old as a nonprofit organization. We aren’t supposed to have money. We aren’t supposed to be able to do all of the things we are trying to do. Technically, with the way nonprofits are designed to operate in year one and year two, we are supposed to be drowning, yet we manage to keep our heads above water…and keep breathing. We do that without a big parent organization over us. There is no “big money collector” guiding us. We don’t answer to anyone, and when we intervene, we do so in the most impactful way that we know how… typically we order a well-being check on the person involved. The police and an ambulance respond to the situation, and if all goes well… that person is either held by law for a few days until they are cleared and safe, or they willingly submit themselves to a behavioral ward in a local hospital. I hate asking the police to go to anyone’s house… but if it means that I get to talk to that person again at a later time to see how they are doing, I will call them every time that they demonstrate to me that they are in danger.
There are two sides to every coin. Now we have lost a youth in our area. Judging by everything that I can see, a very handsome and very promising young man. There is no reason for this type of thing to occur. Things do not happen for a reason. Things happen because the world is cruel and because people cannot or do not get the help that they need. This can be because they do not know where to get it, or because they just can’t find the energy to look for it.
I want to solve that. I want to be able to have the help visible in every way that I can make it visible. There has to be something that I can do to make that happen. Somehow I have to be able to raise funds for billboards, advertising, etc. I have to get companies like Tanager (they do electronic signage like you see in doctor’s offices all around the area… the TV’s that show advertising) onboard. I asked them so long ago if they would be willing to either quote us pricing, offer us a discount, or offer us an in-kind donation of their service.
Instead, when you approach a lot of businesses in our area, your emails just go unanswered. It does not matter if you are looking for in-kind service donations or looking for partnerships or sponsorships.
I have gone completely off-course from what I wanted to say here. Let me get back on it. The simple fact of the matter is that we are here because we want to accomplish a few things. We will accomplish those things with or without the help of others. So far, we have gotten some help, and some of that help has been astounding. I applaud the people who have really come out of nowhere and helped us in ways that we thought no one ever would or could.
Starting tomorrow, I will begin adding a new page on our website. I will post another announcement when it is complete. This new page will allow a person to anonymously provide us with as much detail as they can about a person they are concerned about. This will include the ability to upload screenshots of conversations, contact information, anything and everything that we may need to get in touch with this person or get emergency help to that person. The other use for this application will be that if a person feels like they are in need of help they can come and fill out the information themselves and ask for help.
Hopefully by providing one more method for reporting concerns for others and another method to reach out for help we will encourage people to speak out when they need assistance. There is nothing to be afraid of. There is nothing to be ashamed of. No one can work through every problem on their own. If you need assistance, ask for help. We are here for you any time.