Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Breathing...

Photo by Szlea
On the past few posts I have commented on a number of major events in suicide prevention – some good news, some bad. This week offered another round of heartbreak as two more suicide deaths made headlines – both of them openly gay men, just days apart from each other. I find myself in tears again. More senseless death. The news can be overwhelming for those of us on the frontline. We care deeply and are putting everything we have into solving these problems from all conceivable angles. But honestly, there are too few of us, and our capacity to help is limited by so many obstacles.

I can’t tell you how many people have told me to “breathe” in the last month. As my roles in the suicide prevention field have become broader and deeper, I see so much work that needs to be done. At the national level, the Action Alliance is full steam ahead as some major players in the public and private sector weigh in on broad systemic change. On the local level, the Carson J Spencer Foundation is writing grants, conducting trainings, and expanding programs left and right. Last week I was working with the student affairs team at Johnson and Wales – speaking to their students and training their staff on building a comprehensive suicide prevention program. This week they are reeling from the aftermath of a suicide and implementing the crisis response suggestions we discussed just days before.

I feel so much despair and see so many promising opportunities. Others have noticed my rising anxiety as I work feverishly on one initiative and then another. Breathe, they tell me, breathe. The field needs you well, your organizations need you focused, your family needs you present. Breathe.

Photo by Darkpatator

So, today I took the dog for a run in the wooded trails near my home. This weekend, I made it a priority to breathe in the pine-scented air. I decorated the house with Halloween décor. I helped my boys find library books. I went to church and prayed; the sermon: “Creating Peace.” I cooked a dinner. I watched my son’s soccer tournament. I planned a vacation. I read non-work related books. I slept in. The anxiety lingers, but the soul is grateful. Breathe.

So many of us are overwhelmed with our lives. What do you do to find your center among the demands?


  1. Documentaries.

    Let my intentions and concerns out as a grove lets go butterflies. Adrift to new coasts and challenges/joys of other areas.

    Take me to a world not familiar to me.

    Learn me about others' woes, as mine lie adrift.


  2. Thanks Sally for doing a take off on my daughter's (Becca) words she spoke for me on my behalf at the SPCC Town Hall meeting in September. It was very painful to breathe the night my son died and I am sure many of us experience(d) the same thing happen to our bodies and souls when we lose a loved one.

    To me, lack of breathing because of overwork is quite different than the searing pain of loss.

    Nonetheless, again, thanks for picking up on Becca's words.

    Dar Emme, Founder of Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program

  3. I keep my priorities at the forefront of my mind, heart and soul.
    My own wellness, my marriage and my children are the only thing that matter in the long run.
    When faced with time constraints, tough decisions, what to say, when to have courage and take a stand those three things are at the front of my mind and then, and only then, are those tough decisions made easy.
    I focus on love, not fear.
    I focus on feeling good, not feeling the pain.
    I focus on love.
    I focus on love for whom ever has hurt me or has been hurt by me.
    I focus on love for those hurting from loss.
    I focus on love.