To the Editor:
Every 28 seconds, someone makes a suicide attempt.
I had a personal experience with this myself, when I lost my best friend and college sweetheart, Jonathan, to death by suicide on Oct. 31, 2003, in Essex Junction, Vermont. He was just 24 years old.
Shortly after his death, I too found myself battling with the debilitating effects that come with having a mental illness. I had to leave the place I had made my new home for six years (Vermont) and return to Rhode Island – leaving behind my love, my life and memories of a man gone too soon.
It is here, back in Cranston, that I have made it my life's work to encourage, comfort and offer hope to our most vulnerable adolescent boys in DCYF care – giving them a voice so they won’t feel voiceless, offering them compassion so they won’t feel so alone, and helping them realize their own potential and human right to feel hopeful, to be loved and to be at peace despite obstacles they have had to overcome.
That is why, on June 9, I will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with my members of Congress and demand they make suicide prevention a top legislative priority.
I will ask my senators and representative to support:
1. Increased funding for suicide prevention research within The National Institute of Mental Health to a level commensurate with the suicide crisis in our country
2. Strengthened reporting requirements for mental health parity
3. Full funding of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
4. Maintain service member and veteran suicide prevention as a national priority
In my meetings, I will be the voice for suicide prevention. I will not be alone, though; I will be joined by passionate community leaders of the ever-growing movement of people who care about preventing suicide because they too have been affected by suicide. You can join us by calling your member of Congress and asking them to make suicide prevention the priority it deserves to be.