Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Suicide Prevention and Awareness walk-a-thon Speech 9-15-12

I would like to thank you all for coming today to the 3rd annual Live On Suicide Prevention and Awareness walk-a-thon! Today, you are making a difference… for some, it is a difference between life and death. 
In 2012 Calaveras County has already exceeded the national average in suicide deaths with a total of 15 deaths to date. This is unacceptable.
When I was asked by Kim Molina to speak today I was honored by her request, yet at a loss as to what I would say. Kim gently told me to speak from the heart. That, I can do.
Many of you may know me as a mother, an author, a journalist, a veteran activist, or simply a friend. Some of you may not know me at all, but what none of you know is that I am survivor.
On June 1, 2009 my best friend took her life. 

She was an amazing person. She lit up a room when she walked in. She would sing at the drop of a hat, dance when the music moved her and loved with every fiber of her being. She worked as a RN for many years but found a greater need for her skills in the jungles of Peru and the savannahs of Africa. When not on medical missions she would work with the blind teaching them the basics of brail, she would volunteer in the schools telling of her adventures abroad and how every person on this earth can make a difference and how every person is special. She would chat with almost every passer by leaving them smiling touched by her love. Her laugh, loud and strong was contagious and freely let loose. Her hugs were from the heart. She sang, she wrote, she dreamed. 
She is everything I aspire to be. 
She was my mother.
Why she left I cannot know, but the hearts she touched while she was here will never forget her.
What I do know, is that due to societies oppressive and negative outlook on suicide I was left to mourn alone, in shame. I hid for years the fact that mother had taken her life instead of reveling in the beauty she gave to world while she was here. I lied to friends and co-workers so that they would not know our shame. Those that did know the truth did not know how to behave, show me tenderness and kindness that I needed so desperately or adhere to their own beliefs that suicide is wrong and withhold their love? I could see the battle in their eyes and could only hope that someone would understand my pain, my loss, my need for love and understanding. For three years I waited for understanding and kindness, for three years I mourned alone.
As I stand before you today I know that I am no longer alone and I am no longer ashamed. The woman I knew and loved was an angel among us, I am proud to be her daughter and I will mourn her loss openly and without fear of others opinions.
The Live-On mission statement is clear “We are dedicated to breaking the silence and stigma associated with suicide.” I can only hope that I have helped in some small way with their mission.
Not only does Live-On help raise awareness for those of us willing to learn as we walk among the people of the earth, to watch for seemingly hidden signs, cries for help, and cries for love, but they also help the survivors, those left behind as they try to deal with the loss and the endless “What if’s?” and “Why didn’t I see?”  Those unanswered questions adding to the turmoil and pain of our loss.
Again I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being here today,  for showing your commitment to those that have been lost, those that have been left behind and those that we have yet to save.
With you…we can make a difference.

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