National Suicide Prevention Week — ‘Providing a future of hope, not despair’
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, a week that holds meaning for many of us at Project Legacy, and for me personally.
On February 8th, 2012, my youngest brother, Steven Light, took his own life. A criminal defense attorney, he struggled with mental illness, addiction and trauma. He felt such despair that he saw no other way to end the pain and suffering he had endured for so many years than to end his life. One of my deepest sorrows is that my brother felt so alone.
Today, I see the reality of suicide on a a regular basis in the lives of our young people. Suicide casts its shadow over the lives of many of our youth, whether they have experienced suicidal thoughts personally, have had previous attempts, or have lost loved ones to suicide. Week after week, we sit in Circle processing the pain.
Some of our youth describe us as a family. As a place where they find the support they’ve been unable to find elsewhere — compassion, unconditional love, and a group that truly listens.
More than an after school program or club, this is what we are: A family, here for the long haul.
This past Sunday, I received a call from a young girl I haven’t talked with in a few years. She had left Project Legacy unwilling to stop using drugs and alcohol and unwilling to seek treatment. She was upset when she left.
But on Sunday morning, she contacted me. She sounded frantic and asked me to pick her up from an apartment complex. When I arrived, it was clear she was intoxicated, and she started sharing thoughts of suicide and self harm.
Shortly after, safely in our office at the Empowerment Center, I called for help from the paramedics. The officers who arrived were compassionate, kind and respectful, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude. They provided support to this young woman, and although she was not happy nor initially willing, she ended up receiving the care she needed that day, care that may have ultimately saved her life.
This work is not easy.
Suicide claims the lives of far too many of our young people societally, a reality that hits home for us at Project Legacy. But we believe that by providing a community — a family — of people who understand, who care, and who are consistently present, we can change the trajectory of our young people’s lives, providing a future of hope, not despair.
I am grateful for the volunteers who have stuck by us through the early days of Project Legacy. I am grateful to the many people who put their own egos aside to come together to build a community of love, respect, integrity, compassion and forgiveness. A community of people who don’t care about titles or degrees, but instead care for each other.
That is what Project Legacy is, a family of believers: believers in second chances, forgiveness, inclusion, and most importantly, believers in hope.
If you or a loved one has expressed thoughts of suicide or may be at risk of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Line for help at 1-800-273-8255.