In the wake of losing my brother in law, Dallas, to suicide in February of 2015, I was left with feelings of shock, sadness, confusion, anger, denial, guilt…you name it, I felt it. Most of all I was left with a hole; in my life, in my family, and in my heart. As with any loss, I struggled to find a way to cope with the grief and to support the ones I love. I needed to do something. I needed to find a way to help; to bring a light to the darkness that surrounded me. I couldn’t bring Dallas back, and I couldn’t help him with his struggle; but could I help someone? Anyone? Could I help others mourning this loss? Could I help others that were struggling? Could I keep another family from going through this? Could I help the man that I love with all my heart try to pick up the pieces of his life, after everything he had ever known and trusted in this world, had been shattered into a million pieces? The answer was yes. I could. I had to.
And so, The Legend was born. A memorial golf tournament to honor Dallas (The Legend or the Ledge, as many knew him by) seemed like a perfect fit. He was an avid golfer, was quite possibly the most competitive person I ever met, and loved nothing more than to spend time with friends and family. How could we help others mourning his loss? We could start a tradition, and give family and friends a reason to come together; to reminisce and to show each other support.
As time passed and planning for the tournament got underway, I searched for information to increase my knowledge; to help me to understand. I continued to research addiction, mental illness and suicide; the statistics were alarming! According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Centre for Suicide Prevention & the World Health Organization; One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness or addiction problem in their lifetime. There is a suicide on our planet every 40 seconds, and an attempt every 3 seconds. 90% of people that commit suicide have a mental illness, addiction; or both. We are surrounded by people that are struggling; yet no one is talking about it. We had to do something!
But how? Where do you start? After working in health care as a Registered Nurse for the last 10 years, I felt let down by the very system that was supposed to help. It had failed miserably. Mental health services and supports need to improve; assessment and referral procedures in acute medical systems need an overhaul; our government needs to properly allocate funding to provide more continuity of care, so people aren’t slipping through the cracks. Looking at the daunting task of igniting social and political change, I felt powerless. However, working in health care and the non profit sector has also taught me that to make big changes you have to start somewhere, and most often you will see the biggest change working within your circle of influence. I would say that bringing people together to start a conversation and reduce stigma is as good a place as any.
How do we help others that are struggling? By using the golf tournament as a way to get the word out! That people that we love are struggling, and that it’s ok to talk about it. That you yourself may be struggling, and that it’s ok to ask for help.
Research has shown that one of the most important protective factors against mental illness and addiction is the presence of a support system. Let’s support one another!
How could we keep other families from going through this? By increasing awareness and supporting suicide prevention initiatives. A portion of the proceeds from the tournament will be used to partner with the Safe Communities Committee (City of Brooks & County of Newell) to host a suicide awareness workshop for the community; one of the first steps in building a suicide-safer community.
Research indicates that many mental illnesses actually start in young adulthood, and suicide remains the second leading cause of death for young people in Canada. Further more, the root of addiction frequently starts in childhood, often related to trauma; but as Dr. Gabor Mate writes “that’s not [always] when bad things happen but when good things don’t happen”
How could we help others that are struggling and perhaps prevent suicides as a result of mental illness or addiction? By helping those “good things” to happen. By promoting a positive school environment and providing opportunity for youth to have positive role models, and to build resiliency, coping skills and a support system to count on. Choosing one of our beneficiaries to help us take on this hugely important task seemed like a no brainer! The Grasslands Innovations Project is a mental health capacity building project that operates in schools within the Grasslands Public School Division. It is an integrated, multidisciplinary, team approach providing promotion, prevention and early intervention, and addiction and mental health services to children and their families. The funds will assist Innovations to implement leadership and resiliency programming in one of the junior high schools, and the partnership with our foundation will help them to provide education and promote awareness about mental health and suicide.
How do we help? With your help! The support for the golf tournament in and of itself is so important to us. It honors a man that we all love and miss so dearly. It also serves as the catalyst for a community wide project aimed at raising awareness and reducing stigma through education, health promotion, social change, and government lobbying. With your help we can begin to build a legacy of compassion, support and understanding!
As the project has evolved over the past year, it has provided an opportunity to put our energy towards something positive. Many people have offered to help, sent generous donations and shown their support for what we are trying to do. Brick by brick we begin to build this legacy in honor of Dallas; and without even realizing it, I think that hole in my heart may be a little smaller. It has started to fill with little pieces of love, kindness, support, understanding, and compassion from those around me. Thank you for helping to pick up the pieces.
For tournament info please visit our Facebook Page at : FullCircle FDN for Wellness
To Register please email [email protected] and request a package.