Tuesday was World Suicide Prevention Day. It was one of the busiest, most exciting days in TWLOHA history, with support for our “You Make Today Better” campaign coming in from people all over.
Jarrid Wilson had posted his photo a few days before, smiling in our campaign t-shirt, helping us spread the word. His support of TWLOHA always meant a lot to me, and surprised me in a way, because in addition to his work as a pastor, Jarrid was leading his own mental health organization, Anthem of Hope.
On Monday, the day before World Suicide Prevention Day, Jarrid tweeted about World Suicide Prevention Day, encouraging people to get involved. This was nothing new, as Jarrid was always posting good stuff about mental health. He was always pointing people toward hope and help.
In response to a tweet that i posted during a Reddit AMA that afternoon, Jarrid replied, “Love ya bro.” We never met in person but this was par for the course. We shared so many moments like this on Twitter. He was always encouraging and kind, always cheering me on. We were perhaps kindred spirits, teammates in this work of saving lives.
Jarrid died by suicide late Monday night, under the same roof as his wife and two young boys.
i stumbled upon the news of Jarrid’s death the following afternoon, Tuesday, World Suicide Prevention Day, around 5pm. My brain rejected it instantly. Impossible. The words could not be true. There was no way i could accept this information, especially on the day dedicated to staying alive.
i had hoped to write this blog yesterday but the truth is that i don’t know what to say.
Jarrid had the tools. Jarrid spoke the language. Jarrid had every reason to live. Jarrid died by suicide.
Jarrid’s life and work touched thousands of people. And so thousands of people are heartbroken. Thousands of people are shocked and grieving and confused.
There’s a lot i don’t know and don’t understand, but here’s what i do know:
i know my friend Mike called me Tuesday night to tell me he loved me, to tell me that he’s thankful for my life, my friendship, and my voice.
i know that Aaron texted, “Let’s promise to call each other if it ever gets that dark.”
i know that Dustin reached out to say, “Hey man. You doing okay? I’m thinking about you. Just want you to know I’m always here for you.” What Dustin said next was direct but i felt loved: “Don’t white-knuckle that shit. Don’t bury it under helping other people. You make my today better. And a lot of other people’s too.”
Their words meant the world to me. Because their words represent why life is worth living. Relationships. Love. Connection. Feeling known. Feeling seen. Invitations to be honest.
We are not alone. We are all in this together. Other texts and calls and messages have arrived, and i’ve been reaching out as well. It’s been a moment to check in, to check on, to ask questions, to listen, to remind people they are priceless, to say the words, “I love you.”
Tuesday felt like a month. Tuesday felt like a movie. So much good, so much hope, so much to celebrate, and then also awful news. A horrific reminder of why World Suicide Prevention Day exists, why National Suicide Prevention Week exists, why TWLOHA exists.
Perhaps that “why” is simply pain. We do this work, i write this blog, because so many people are in pain. Because so many people struggle. Because so many people feel confused, alone, overwhelmed, afraid, stuck in darkness. Because 800,000 people die by suicide each year.
And how do we move forward? How can we have hope when even someone like Jarrid can be lost too soon?
For starters, we will mourn with those who mourn. Hundreds of people have already rallied to help meet the needs of Jarrid’s family in the difficult days ahead.
Beyond that, we will continue to do this work that Jarrid believed in. We’ll lean on everything we’ve learned since TWLOHA’s surprising beginning back in 2006. We’ll lean on the thousands of messages from people who have shared what saved and changed their life. We will continue to reduce stigma by talking openly about mental health and about suicide. We will encourage people to get whatever help they need for as long as they need it. We will encourage those struggling to connect with professional help. We will serve as bridges to counseling, to support groups, to crisis hotlines. We will let people know that if they need to take medication, there’s no shame in that. i’ll take my 40mg Citalopram pill before i go to sleep tonight. i’ll go to counseling tomorrow afternoon.
We’ll get outside for sunsets, for exercise, for hobbies, and friends. We’ll come back inside to rest, because we’ve learned we need to rest.
We’ll keep showing up. We’ll keep checking in. We’ll keep saying, “I love you.” We’ll keep being honest. We’ll keep asking questions. We’ll keep listening. We’ll keep learning. We’ll keep seeing people. We’ll keep reminding people they are priceless. We’ll keep reminding people that life is worth living.
We’ll believe the air in our lungs might also be a gift. We’ll live as long as we possibly can, finding and sharing every good thing. We’ll be surprised along the way, by love and joy and wonder, by people, and by things that feel true.
We’ll make today better.
You make today better.
Thank you Jamie for writing this. In midst of the excitement of WSPD, it was also laced with sadness as some friends of mine and I were reminded of a mutual friend we lost in January to suicide.
Thank you Jamie- you put into words what so many struggle, including myself, to process. I know it can’t be explained, but its what we do now that we can control.
You’re incredible, Jamie. You continue to be a light in dark times. You make today better. Thank you
Thank you so much for writing this! I did not know Jarrid but had been following him for years and just like many other’s I was devastated when I went on twitter and saw the headlines. It broke my heart. I never thought it would have been him. I have struggled with mental illness like anxiety and depression for most of my life, but I’ve never struggled with suicidal thoughts and so I have no idea what someone who does might go through. I’m sure it something I will never understand but it must have been very difficult for him to make that decision as much as he fought for life.
Your blog is beautiful and it gives hope and I know it’s what Jarrid would want us all to do. Keep moving forward. Love one another and walk with each other through the things that people keep hidden. We got each other. We got Jesus.
OMG this was amazing. It’s like I just heard that message for the first time. Love you. I’m a text or call away.
Thank you Jamie.
I’m struggling specifically this week. You commented on my comment 🙂 @bobgoff I’m @htdrummond
Please pray with me and for me. I’ll pray for you too.
Thank you for being brave to talk about this! To processing not having all the answers, to sharing vulnerability. It’s hard, messy and doesn’t always feel great but so so important! Thank you, Jamie!
and when thats not enough for some people, we will be there for the family and friends they leave behind.
I read about Jarrid and it broke my heart. To me it was shocking but not surprising that someone struggling for so long died by suicide. I have struggled for years. We never know exactly the struggle of others but as you say we can let each other know we are here. We can connect. We can love in the face of pain. We can be unafraid to share our own journey in the hope that it leads others to healing.
Much love to all.
The news of his death really shook me. It terrifies me because he knew all the right things to do to ask for help, he knew all the steps to stay safe, and yet he still died by suicide. If he can’t face tomorrow, how can I know that one day I won’t be able to face tomorrow either. I know all the right things and I have a safety plan, but what if one day it isn’t enough. That terrifies me. His writing was always something I enjoyed. It is such a loss.
We’re so sorry that you are grappling with the passing of Jarrid. We hope Jamie’s words could provide you with some comfort knowing that others are struggling with this loss as well.
None of what we do is guaranteed, but we will keep going because we believe in hope and help, because we believe you are more than the darkness you know. Please keep reaching out and asking for help. Please keep living and allowing us and others to be there for you when tomorrow is difficult.
The Aslan Foundation
Love this. Thank you. ❤️
I wrote this about it:
In the words @levithepoet wrote on his Instagram post about Jarrid he mentioned that those of us who are dealing with depression shouldn’t feel that what we have to say can’t be stomached by others. If only he were correct. The truth is that there are indeed areas in life that others just don’t want to hear about.
And that leads to feelings of being alone. And when being hated comes along with it, it makes suicide seem like a viable option. At least it does for me.
I posted there that I get it, Jarrid. Because I definitely get it.
We understand what you are saying. Some people don’t want to hear about mental illness and those types of honest struggles. But we hope you do know that there are others who are honored to receive those stories and be part of genuine mental health conversations.
You can always reach out to us at [email protected], Donny. We hope you will. We also hope you will choose to stay.
Norman (Wayne) Bowlby
Hi, Jamie, I am currently about halfway through your book, “If You Feel Too Much.” I am 81 years old and have had difficulty with depression most of my adult like, partly due to a “ghost” that I’ve carried since age 13. In addition, I am currently suffering from pain from spinal problems
and dealing with Tinnitus. Is there a person or group in San Diego, CA where I live who is associated with TWLOHA?
We’re so glad you found Jamie’s book and TWLOHA! But we’re also sorry to hear that you’re dealing with depression and pain.
Much of our staff lives and works in Central Florida, so we don’t have anyone located in San Diego at this time, but through our FIND HELP Tool, you can find support groups and mental health resources that are available near you: twloha.com/find-help.
We hope you’ll use the tool to find a support option that works for you! You deserve to be seen and known and supported. You can also email us anytime at [email protected].
Bless you Jamie.
I started crying just seeing his picture, as I read your words. It is at epidemic proportions. My good friend lost both sons, 27 and 29 years old to suicide in 2016 and 2017 and I know 2 more very young people who both died from suicide in November 2015. I’m so sorry for the loss of such a kind, thoughtful, caring person. In life, it seems the most beautiful souls are that way because they do feel things so deeply. I fear that is the double edged sword that is our joy and our affliction. We all collectively and individually must soldier on and keep doing all we can to educate like minded people how to work on changing their inner dialogue that wants to automatically, whenever feeling depressed, leap to the quite unnatural desire (I say unnatural desire because people will fight with every fiber of their being to live through the most dire circumstances so I recognize in myself that my suicidal ideation goes totally against mankind’s inborn fervent desire to live to harm oneself that we battle daily.
Keep showing up.
You make a difference. You all do. My daughter, Vikki, survived as a teen because she found you all. She met you at a festival in Columbia after surviving a suicide attempt. She sound peace in art, photography, music. She survived, no she lived, fell in love and helped others until a year ago this Friday. She was taken by a car accident at 25 years, not suicide. I thank you all for the support she felt from you all when she needed just that connection. We are grateful. Keep at it!
We can’t even begin to thank you for reaching out to us and telling us about your daughter and her connection to TWLOHA. We are incredibly sorry to hear that she has passed. Please know that we are thinking of you and we hope that you’ll reach out to our team at [email protected] if you are ever in need of support or encouragement. Vikki was fortunate to have a mother such as yourself. We’re glad she found us and we had the opportunity to meet her as well.