If your summer travels take you anywhere along the Ohio River, odds are you will see 3 young men in kayaks, steadily rowing their way down the whole thing. All 981 miles.
For Jackson Gray and Tyler Brezina, this excursion is personal. In 2014 they lost their close friend, James Halley, to suicide. This tragedy deeply affected them and many others.
The grief and mourning from such a loss is, for some, incomprehensible; for others, regrettably familiar, and is a reality for which there just aren't adequate words.
In order to do something to help those suffering from suicidal thoughts, Jackson and Tyler created Race the River to raise awareness for prevention and fundraise for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Jackson, Tyler, and their friend Quinton Couch are currently on their 26th day of rowing, and have raised $5,700 of their $7,000 goal.
Guys, you are awesome!
You can donate to help them reach (or even surpass!) their goal here.
Their journey has allowed them to cross paths with strangers who have shared stories about how suicide has impacted their own lives, or the life of a friend.
The effect of suicide is vast and deep...and its incidence is all too common. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and kills 121 people per day. The contributing risk factors are multi-faceted, hardly black and white, and are being met with an ever-growing array of mental health resources.
Discussing mental illness and familiarizing yourself with risk factors and warning signs (they aren't the same for everyone) for suicidal thoughts and acts can be extremely important. Being supportive to those who are suffering, as well as encouraging friends or family members - or yourself - to seek help is one way to decrease the risk of suicide. Listen often and well to your loved ones; it is your connection to their story and their bond to you that makes up one of the strongest protective factors against suicide (SPRC, 2011). Even throughout your day, just being kind to everyone you meet can do more than you know.
Join Jackson, Tyler, and Quinton in your own way!
What 'small' thing can you do to brighten someone's day today? Bring someone coffee, write a post-it note with something you appreciate about a co-worker and stick it to their desk, or simply offer someone a smile that says 'I see you. And you are valued here'.
To the changemakers,
If you or a loved one needs support, please visit the American Foundation Suicide Prevention Support page: here. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24 hours a day.