#11Reasons Day One

Hi friends.

Sorry it’s taken me until this late in the day to share this – I’ve been busy in Edmonton, Alberta teaching a great group of CMHA public educators about how to deliver a workplace mental health training program called Mental Health Works.

I’m glad that I could finally get to this though.

I’ve been thinking all day about the many things I’m grateful for in my life.

That’s something I do a lot. Sometimes it’s harder to remember things than others. It takes practice. But, I’ve found, the more we search for gratitude, the more we find it. Exercising this part of my self has had a wonderful impact on my life.

This was also on my mind today because of a new initiative I’m helping out with in the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th.

Myself, along with fellow mental health advocates / amazing people Lynn Keane (also a fellow NSB speaker), and Jean-Francois Claude, have decided to launch a challenge in the 11 days leading up to WSPD. For each day, we’re sharing one of our 11 reasons we choose to keep living.

We’re doing this in honour and memory of the 11 Canadians who die by suicide every day.

Each of us have been affected personally by suicide. We’ve learned first hand how tragic, and how unnecessary suicide is. We know that suicide is preventable, yet we’re reminded all too often of how we as a progressive, advanced, compassionate country are falling short of preventing it.

That might be partly because we still don’t know what to do. At least, we don’t think we do. I happen to believe that we actually already do have all the tools we need to stop suicide.

The only thing we really need is us.

I know. That’s a huge responsibility. It’s terrifying. It’s way easier to say that we don’t know what to do, than it is to say that we know what to do but we’re not doing it.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Involving ourselves in the movement to eradicate suicide from our society can be as simple as sharing a story.

If you can inspire just one person through your recovery, your change in thinking, your simple pleasures, then that’s all it takes.

So, this is us. We’re sharing our gratitude for everything that’s kept us going. Hopefully it serves as encouragement for others, even just one person, to reflect on what keeps them going too.

If it keeps you here, even for just one more day, then we’ve successfully prevented suicide. We’ve proved to the world that we can do it. We’ve proved to ourselves that we can do it again tomorrow.

On this first day of the #11Reasons challenge, I can think of no better target for my gratitude.

I’m grateful for you.

My mental health advocacy has been key to my recovery. Every time it’s gotten bad, I’ve invited you in, and you’ve made it a little less lonely. One of my many reasons for doing this work is so that I can repay you that kindness.

I’ve had a diagnosis of a mental illness for more of my life than I haven’t. I don’t think that I could have lived without finding a passion, a purpose, and a community like this. I don’t think that I would have come to a place in my life where I would be able to say, as I am now, that I look forward to the challenges and triumphs to come.

So thank you. Thank you for reading, and for sharing, and for staying.

See you tomorrow.

– Mark

ps. I’m missing a selfie with the sign – I don’t happen to have access to a printer! However, I’ll try to get some in for the following days. Please share your own #11Reasons on Twitter and nominate others to take part as well! More here.

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