My name is Denny. I do some behind the scenes work with TWLOHA as well as a bit of speaking on the side. I’m writing you today because I want to share about an event Jamie and myself will be speaking at tomorrow.
A few months ago we received an email from a church leader in a small city east of Des Moines, Iowa named Altoona. He asked if we would come participate with his community in efforts to respond to a string of suicides that has occurred in the past six months at the local high school Southeast Polk-four students to be exact with the last one taking place in late November. Two of the surviving families whose boys took their life are funding a one day suicide prevention conference that will include Jamie, me and some local counseling resources.
You see, we’re going to this event not as “saviors” or heroes, not as the rescue squad who has all the answers and potions to fix things. We are going because we believe this small city in the Midwest matters. We believe that the families, friends and students who are going through this experience of pain and loss deserve to be heard. There is a need here and we are moved by this chance to share a story of hope and to speak into lives whose suffering is still so fresh.
Personally, I can’t identify with losing a loved one from suicide, so this all feels beyond anything I can give. But I can identify with a hopelessness and darkness that rips a person’s life apart. I can identify with the feeling of not having anything to live for, and feeling that I would be better off dead. But I also know what it is like to come out of this darkness and to live with hope. I know the taste of community and how this can change a person.
The event takes place at Lutheran Church of the Cross tomorrow, January 17, starting at 9:30. It will be open to the public free of charge. This will be an attempt to announce hope over hopelessness. We want this community to know they are not alone. We would love to see anyone who can came come out for this special moment.