My speech from our second 22 Push-up event on July 22, 2016 (not the best quality!):
Wow! Look at how many awesome people we have standing here!
Thank you so much for coming out to support our Veteran’s and our community in raising awareness of Suicide.
As you probably know, suicide knows no boundaries. It effects all people – regardless of our belief systems, our economic statures, our gender, or our political beliefs. Our Veterans account for an average of 22 suicide victims per day.
I started to do a bunch of research on suicide as I thought about what message I would want to share with you.
I stopped researching because although the statistics are helpful to understand the amount of people affected, it doesn’t help stop the pain people feel. I stopped researching because I understand what it is to be hopeless and dead inside.
In 1997, I attempted suicide.
It wasn’t (1) thing that got me there. It was many, many things over a course of years that slowly etched away at me. I had tremendous guilt. I felt like a failure. I felt more pain than joy. I felt like everyone would be better off without me and I was relieved to be ending the pain.
I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t say good-bye to my children or my family. I simply drove out to the desert to end it all. Afterwards, I literally heard this message: If you die, who will love your children as much as you do?
I’m not going to lie – I still wanted to die. I was angry. And that anger lasted for years. I didn’t feel an ounce of joy for months. I still did not want to be here and I thought about it every day.
It’s not hard to get to the point of suicide. It’s hard to come back from it.
How am I here today?
I reached out to people who understood my type of pain. Other survivors. And I worked at getting better, hard… with everything I had, every day. Complete strangers had simple things to say like “I understand”, “I’ve been where you are”, “what can I help you with?”
I learned to know the difference between what I could and couldn’t fix; to face one problem at a time. When I succeeded, I felt joy, even hope. I felt worthy. Respected. And blessed. Failures no longer defined me.
We, as a community, as loved ones, as friends – “We” make the difference in those we can help. We make a difference by taking one moment out of our day to say something kind or encouraging. By loving others.
Some will not survive. Others may survive another day simply because of an encouraging word from complete strangers.
In 1997, I almost committed suicide. And in 1998, I met Smiley. (We’ve been married almost 18 years.) In 2004, I started praying again.
We can make a difference by reaching out to our Veterans. We can check in on one-another (Buddy Checks), we can say “Thank you” with hugs and handshakes. We can attend community events to honor Veterans. We as a community can help others to feel worthy and cared about – even if it’s for just one more day.
Thank you for being here today!
— Lynne “Spirit” Hanson, Let’s Promote Hope™
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