This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk in Auburn, California. There were over 300 people in attendance and there is something really special about getting to speak with folks who know the specific pain and hurt a suicide brings to a family. There is an understanding that nobody else quite grasps.
I had several individuals come up to the booth I was hosting for The Gift of Second, and they were unable to finish a sentence without sobbing because the pain is still so fresh and raw. To be able to sit there with them, in their grief, and understand their sorrow without having to say a word brought tears to my eyes each time. The thing about suicide is we feel so alone. We feel as if nobody could ever understand. But, for one morning, 300 people did exactly understand. We know the questions we continually wrestle with in our minds. We understand the pain, the guilt, the shame, the unique grief, the stigma, everything. We get it. This weekend, 300 of us got the chance to be together and support each other on this journey.
There are about 50 AFSP Walks every weekend in cities all over the USA through September, October, and November, bringing people together to raise awareness, support prevention, and offer connection with one another. It’s beautiful and it’s powerful. The Auburn event had a really cool photo booth donated by the generous folks at Classic Photo Booth Rentals. I decided to pose for a few pictures alone, trying to repeat a strong message so many survivors need to hear.