Hello, Earthlings! It’s time, once again, for the annual Project for Awesome. For twelve Decembers, the Project for Awesome has been a force for decreasing worldsuck by promoting charities and, since 2010, actively raising money for a wide variety of charitable causes.
So of course, as usual, I thought long and hard for the last month about making my own video contribution to the project…and still waited until the last possible minute to actually do so.
If I’m honest, I waited until after the last minute, instead opting to spend the last minute hanging out with my friend Jess, having Hanukkah latkes and picking out a Christmas tree with her roommates.
Instead of getting stressed over making a last-minute Project for Awesome video, however, I find myself thankful to have taken that time. The experience gave me a good perspective with which to go into promoting my chosen charity, which is (once again) the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
You see, after years of making videos about it, I wasn’t sure how to present the AFSP in a new way this time around.
I could give you the facts. I could tell you that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the eighteenth leading cause of death globally in 2016. I could tell you that 47,173 Americans died by suicide in 2017, and an estimated 1,300,000 attempts occurred in the same year. I could tell you that suicide and self-injury costs the United States 69 billion dollars annually. I could tell you that according to World Health Organization numbers, one person dies by suicide somewhere in the world every forty seconds. And I could tell you that suicide rates are, unfortunately, on the rise.
Alternatively, I could go personal. I could tell you about my plan to die in 2003, when I was just eighteen years old. I could tell you about my subsequent struggles, the times I needed help. I could tell you about the friendship that had the potential for years of adventures and collaboration cut short all too suddenly; a vibrant soul with so much life to live whose story ended well before her time. I could tell you about the friend who recently hit the one-year anniversary of finding his friend’s body, and having to lead his friend’s father to the place where it happened.
But the reason I’m glad, this year, that I waited until the last minute, and the reason I’m showing you these images of my last few days, is because I want to show you what surviving suicide looks like. Or at least what it looks like for me.
My life isn’t perfect. Like anyone, I struggle. I have good days and bad days. The good days don’t magically make the struggles vanish, nor do they completely cure my mind of the things that hold me back. And though people tend to say I’m strong, or brave, for how I face life, I don’t feel strong at all on the bad days. On the bad days, not making a permanent mistake is my victory. On the bad days, I need help remembering that good days even happen.
But whether the day is good or bad, I’m still here. And I’m frequently reminded to be grateful for that fact. I could have ended my life before it really got started. I could have done it a thousand times since. And as time moves by ever more quickly, I’m fast approaching a time in life when I’m statistically at a higher risk; the suicide rate is highest for those in their middle age.
But I’m still here. And every day –even a bad one– is a blessing. Because even if one day I find myself unable to get out of bed, wishing I could just back go to sleep and never wake up again, never feel that deep internal pain again…the next day may bring latkes, or baby goats, or a brisk outdoor ride on a sunny December day. Maybe even a surprise marionberry cider with friendly folks.
It’s hard to remember the good things on the bad days. When our brains are fogged by pain –especially constant, ongoing, chronic pain– it’s hard to remember the little and big things that make life worth living. But even when we can’t remember them, they’re still there. Even when we can’t imagine them, they’re just on the other side of a corner we haven’t peeked around yet.
If you feel there is nothing but darkness ahead, remember that you will have good days again. If you feel there is nothing but darkness behind you, I guarantee there is light waiting for you to find it, and even some that’s actively searching for you.
You are not the only one who feels the way that you do. And you are not alone. You will have good days. You will have bad days. But you are never truly alone in this world. There are people who love you. There are people who want to help. There are people who want to give you good days. Remember that. I know it’s hard, but please, try to remember that.
As for me, I went to sleep instead of staying up all night making a last-minute video, which means I’m already starting off this Project for Awesome better than I usually manage. So I’ll call this a good day.
For more information on the Project For Awesome, go to ProjectForAwesome.com, where you can browse videos about charities, vote for your favorites to receive some of the money raised, and of course donate to the Project for Awesome IndieGogo campaign. And no matter what you do, I hope that you also consider direct donations or at least a little of your time and attention to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Until next time, I’m Adam the Alien. Fare thee well.
- The Project for Awesome
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- My video about the AFSP on ProjectForAwesome.com
— go here to vote for the AFSP; please consider voting if the cause speaks to you!
- I realize I didn’t talk much, this year, about what the AFSP actually DOES to prevent suicide. Here’s someone who touched on that a bit more.
- Donate to the IndieGogo if you can!
- And join the fun in the livestream!
Make sure to watch as many P4A charity videos as you can, and remember to vote for the ones you like the most!
RESOURCES FOR THOSE WHO NEED THEM:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
The Trevor Project
“Concentration”by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License