Preventing Suicide With the Power of Connection
“On behalf of those who fight for equality in a world that is not equal, not just and not ready for the change we are here to bring. I say unto you, bring us your tired, your poor and any immigrant who seeks refuge. For together, we can build not just a better country, but a world that is destined to be united.” — DJ Logic
The Grammy Awards represent the pinnacle of musical achievement and are typically reserved for the best in music. Fittingly, Logic joined best new artist winner Alessia Cara and five-time nominee Khalid for the final live performance of the night.
What followed was a towering, emotional, powerhouse rendition of his suicide-awareness track “1-800-273-8255,” which is named after the phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The song is a testament to perseverance despite the challenges of mental illness and not wanting to be alive, and a great deal of people can relate to that.
Standing behind Logic on stage alongside a handful of other suicide attempt survivors, suicide loss survivors, advocates, helpline workers, family and friends, I was in awe of his ability to reach millions with the transformative power of verse.
I’ve been involved heavily in the suicide prevention and mental health fields, trying to raise awareness, and above all else helping to support other fellow humans as they struggle with mental illness, brain disease and the fallout from substance use disorders.
I have gone on to work with John Draper, the Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, who worked closely with Logic and his team to make this Grammy performance a reality. The song, as noted above, instantly became critically acclaimed within the music industry — and calls to the Lifeline tripled after that performance.
Obviously, the Grammys are an important social and pop culture event and experience for millions upon millions of people.
Having the opportunity to stand up for change, arm-in-arm with other influencers, advocates, helpline workers, emergency personnel and families and friends was almost beyond description in terms of the impact it had on me personally. My wife Margaret supported me throughout the whole day. She is my greatest gift.
I make it a point to wake up each day and give it my best when it comes to working my treatment plan and recovery program. Listening to Logic rhyme about the country “becoming united” at the end of his performance was resounding and awe inspiring.
Alessia Cara sang to the beat: “It’s the very first breath when your head’s been drowning underwater. It’s holding on though the world’s only seeing light in the darkest things.”
My aim and my focus is to see light above the dark. To be a channel for change. And like Logic in his epic rendition Sunday night, let people know that, “They don’t gotta die today. They don’t gotta die.”
Tragically, every year the ripple effect of suicide reaches far and wide.
Every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide. Nearly one million people every year. It’s a shocking, stark reminder of the seriousness of this global devastation that is suicide, which touches nearly everyone around us.
These are motivating factors that keep me working hard to overcome my own personal struggle with severe bipolar disorder that I still handle on a daily basis.
I’ve managed to live 18 years beyond the day I was supposed to die.
I’m extremely grateful for that fact and it keeps me centered on my ultimate goal that I have in traveling the world — however, wherever and whenever I can — to bring my message of strength, resilience and hope to others, which is a shared mission of helping to reduce the number of suicides down to zero.
My documentary film, “Suicide: The Ripple Effect,” that premieres on March 13 in the United States, is playing in over 110 cities around the country, and has a release internationally within six other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, The U.K and more. It will be my first feature documentary film, co-directed and co-produced by my brother in mental health Greg Dicharry. This is a huge milestone and it comes the realization that there’s still more work to be done.
There’s still more people to connect with.
There’s still a message that stands out above all others that, like Logic, Khalid and Alessia Care each deeply believes:
I will continue to do my best instilling hope in others and sharing the love and support I have with anybody who needs guidance when they’re struggling with mental illness and substance-use disorders.
Our evening at the Grammys marks the day the paradigm shifted to giving respect, unconditional love, compassion and care to those living inside mild, moderate, to severe brain or mental pain. This will be the catalyst for a wave of change that is coming. And the good news is, we can all be a part of such great change, during a place in history when millions of people all at one time in one place learned that we stand together, strong, determined and destined to augment the way all look at survivors of suicide, both loss and attempts.
For more information on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and how you can help others who are in distress or need help, please check out the link here.
And for details about my upcoming feature length documentary film “Suicide: The Ripple Effect” and how to host a screening, check this out here.
One thing I know now more than ever, no matter the pain I still experience regularly with my bipolar disorder, no matter the regularity of my suicidal thoughts… I will never die by my hands. I will always ask for help, I will always work to #BeHereTomorrow.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
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Lead image provided by contributor