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How Suicide Affects Us All: What’s Your Color?

Your Color is your Why. What’s Your Why?

This past weekend I went to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City to join thousands of others as part of the "Out of the Darkness" walk put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. At different places around the event there were tables with thousands of beaded necklaces of different colors. Each color had a different meaning or significance of someone who was lost to suicide. As I stood at the table gathering my honor beads, almost too weak to stand, let alone to speak, I started to cry. There were multiple tables each stacked two feet high with the nine different color strands. The fact that the event coordinators suspected that many people would be dealing with suicide hurt my heart. The fact that they were right hurt worse.

Everyone should be wearing blue as an indication that they are supporting suicide prevention.

My daughter said “that’s the only one I want.” Me too, but I gathered more. I gathered three teal. My 25-year-old daughter attempted suicide for the first time at 8 years old. I’m glad I didn’t have to grab a white strand. It has been a long battle but she is still alive fighting hard to hold on despite a broken mental health system she repeatedly falls between the cracks.

My 16-year-old daughter started cutting 2 years ago after coming out as gay at school. Being rejected hurt, not just by mean peers but by unhelpful, unsupportive adults at church and school as well. The school’s response, “There is nothing we can do. Kids will be kids”. I am happy she is still here and for the support I found outside of school with organizations like Encircle, Northstar, I’ll Walk with You, and Mama Dragons. Today I dawn a Mama Dragon’s Pin and Necklace with my honor beads. Thank God for unconditionally loving and supportive people.

The last teal necklace is for my dear friend Topher. A beautiful gay man working to affect change in the LGBTQ community; to save lives while struggling to save his own. His goal is to start a nonprofit called OneBreath Suicide Prevention. He told me if we can get them to take just one more breath maybe we will have time to reach them, to save them, and if not they will die knowing they gave it their very best shot.

Which leads me to the green strand. The hardest to pick up. I don’t want anyone to know. February wasn’t my first dance with death but on that day I did what my friend said, I took One more Breath. With a bottle of Percocet in one hand and a cup of water in the other I cried on the bathroom floor because there was nothing else to do. That day, the bankruptcy finalized (after my work fired me 5 days after my dad’s death) I picked up the mail and read 4 shut off notices, and notification that the house was being taken and then a knock on the car window where a very nice Polynesian man said he was there to take my car. The uncontrolled pain from the recently severed ACL flared up and I grabbed the meds, some water and headed to the bathroom. I heard Topher say "Just take One More Breath" and I did. In that breath I thought of my kids and how they needed me. I thought of all the attempts before and how glad I was that those didn’t end my life. And then the words to my favorite song by Imagine Dragons and my motto for life came to my mind, Whatever it takes

Whatever it takes 'Cause I love the adrenaline in my veins I do whatever it takes 'Cause I love how it feels when I break the chains Whatever it takes You take me to the top I'm ready for Whatever it takes 'Cause I love the adrenaline in my veins I do what it takes

For my kids... I will do whatever it takes.