No matter how many times I hear my friend Kevin Hines deliver a key note on Suicide & Suicide Prevention, I am totally captivated. His presence, his story of fighting for survival, and the way he leaves the crowd hanging onto every word - is like magic. Kevin has been a keynote speaker and SuicidePrevention advocate for over 10years, and in every single word of every presentation I have seen - I am totally captivated and hang onto every word of the story, and when it came to me presenting today (Sunday) I realised I had so much to learn in the way I deliver my message.
Often at times when we talk in such a traumatic topic like suicide & suicide prevention, we often come across people struggling with previous trauma caused by the loss of a loved one; today was no different.
The isle I was sitting I noticed lady who looked to by a little overcome with emotion stand up, and quietly leave the auditorium wiping tears from her eyes in progress.
I stood up and quietly and followed lady outside, as I saw that she was visibly upset. I stopped her outside and in tears she told me how her son died by suicide 18months previous.
To hear the words in Kevin's speech was traumatic to this woman, the hurt was still so raw & like many of us who battle the demons of mental health & suicide, the story is oh so similar - we hugged I told her how I was a suicide attempt survivor and I am sorry for her loss as I can relate to her son and by choosing to end his own life, he just just wanted the pain to end..We hugged, talked more and she thanked me for taking time to see if she was ok. These stories have been too familiar, no matter the location right around the world. Helping each other and lending a shoulder to cry on, won't get their loved one back - but it will help to heal their pain.
Today I co delivered 2 sessions at Alliance for Safe Kids workshops with Kevin.
Kevin was due to open our session, which was perfect because I am someone who picks up tips and ideas to work off & I can gauge how the interaction is with the audience - so I was completely thrown off when Kevin was asked outve the room by one of the organisers - so I had to step up to the mark...
For the 1st time in my short speaking experiences, I was overcome by a tonne of nerves.
I eased my way into it and gained momentum with student interaction and before I knew it, my time was up - instead of only doing half of the session, Kevin didn't interrupt and when I glanced at the clock, I realised there was only 10mins left in the 1st group we had to talk to. Kevin wrapped up like an ace and we worked the 1st session perfectly.
The 2nd session I was a little more mindful of the timing, and wrapped up half way through the session in order to let Kevin's finish the day - as I will quietly admit I love hearing his story, as much as the students so will happy to sit in the back not only to hear his story but pick up tips on his delivery.
The one thing over the past few days that has been quite uncanny, ironic - call it whatever you will; is the random people we have come across in our path - all share a similar ripple affect of suicide & mental illness.
This morning in the gym while working out, we ask a stranger to take our picture. He noticed we both wearing The Enemy Within tank tops & asked what the shirt represents. I go onto tell how back home in Australia I have a suicide prevention charity called The Enemy Within; the man goes on to tell us the story of his son who has struggled with mental illness for quite some times. Hearing the comfort of Kevin and I both talking openly of our mental health struggles and psyc ward stays, eases his mind that his son is on the right path to recovery.
Another example was on the plane to Kansas, I sit next to a young lady who picked up on my Australian accent and we began to talk about how I came to the US - I tell her I was on a speaking tour with Kevin about our personal stories of suicide, The Ripple Effect Film & The Enemy Within Charity. She asks me - how do you find talking about it in front of strangers? My reply was 'this is my
Therapy - every day, talking to strangers is like talking to a clinical psychologist or counsellor - I speak about my struggles, and how I work hard everyday to manage it.
The reason she asked become the important, ironic, uncanny link I speak of. This young lady was an attempt survivor after a suicide attempt last year. We shared our stories, laughter and tears about the pain we kept hidden for so long, how her attempt she didn't want to upset anyone but wanted the head noise and brain pain to end - mirror image of the struggles I went through leading up to my attempt in 2012.
Suicide, and the ripple effect of suicide can cause so much heartache and pain, loss grief and sadness - but it can also share the positive side, the helping of that young lady become more confident, explaining the mind & thought processes behind a person who dies by suicide or attempt to end life by suicide - I'm order for her to have closure about her son.
I am a huge believer in Kevin's slogan Hope, Helps, Heal - because I see it in the eyes of the struggling every single day not just in my local community, district or even Australia - Hope, Helps Heal right throughout the world.
Tonight we are off to Kansas - maybe we'll run into Dorothy, Tin Man, the lion, scarecrow & Todo - where We have the Kansas County Mental Health Centre - 9 presentations in 3 days (6 high schools and 3 community providers)
8 states in 10 days, another airport, plane trip & hotel room - but I love my job of spreading hope & saving lives. So remember...
It May Battle Me; But It Won't Beat Me
Big love to all - especially back home!!