In January of 2016, during my second semester of college, one of my childhood friends commited suicide. He was someone I had known since elementray school and had been a part of my daily life for years. A week or so after, another highschool classmate of mine took their life. And then 4 months later, a third classmate/friend of mine commited suicide. In a span of 4 months, 3 classmates, only two years apart in age, all took their own lives. As you can imagine this was unimaginably devastating for my hometown's community. We were all at a loss of words trying to figure out how something like this could happen. It was a time of my life I don't think I'll ever forget. I do believe it formed an everlasting comaradie and mutual support amongst our community that can't be found anywhere else. Even moving forward, I have lost dear family friends and coworkers to suicide. Depression is a sickness with no restraint. And now, after over a year of handling the Coronavirus, more and more people are struggling with depression and mental health. If there is any time to take action, it's now.
I have found that the easiest thing to do is to just talk about depression/mental health, and make sure it's not forgotten. It's a battle that's hidden and often is never discovered until it's too late. Make depression and suicide an easier discussion to have so that those struggling can feel more comfortable finding help. It's easier to fight with the support of those around you, than alone.
So once I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, and create a blog, I realized there would be a moderately-sized following. I figured I should take advantage of the opportunity and make this journey about something bigger than just myself. I wanted to find something that meant more to me than hiking the Appalachian Trail, and could also help other people. And therefore, I am hoping I can help raise awareness and support of those struggling with mental health. I decided on $2,193 because that's how many miles I'll be hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I want to raise the money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org). The AFSP is a voluntary health organization that is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. They are doing this by funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide in their mission.
If you are someone, (or even know of someone), who is struggling with depression, please talk about it with someone close to you. Even if you don't want to talk with someone you know, please reach out with a therapist, or explore the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org). They also have a 24/7 phone line you can call 1-800-273-8255. You are loved. You are important. You matter.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: afsp.org
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org (1-800-273-8255)