The other day, I met an older veteran at the McMenamins in Corvallis who told me the story of how he accidentally saved a man’s life. He met a man sitting at the edge of the deep end at the public swimming pool and for no real reason he struck up a conversation. He doesn’t even remember what they talked about. He found out much later that the man had made his mind up to take a relaxing swim before going home to shoot himself in the temple with a handgun. The simple fact that someone decided to speak to him, engage with him, changed his mind. The man who was going to kill himself went on to get his GED, associate’s, bachelor’s, and is now working on his master’s degree in writing poetry of all things. He has decided to use his words to fight for others and try to make the world a better place.
Another friend of mine went on to organize a group of veterans to save lives in Haiti. In putting together the group he’s given hope to other veterans who in turn give hope to people in our community and saves lives in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The good he does spreads exponentially through every life he touches and none of it would have happened if his suicide attempt had worked.
Another friend who used to be a student of mine a few years back messaged me on Facebook asking if I had any dog food. He knew all about the food pantry we have for people in need and all about the discussion groups and support networks I’ve put together at the post. He is in dire need for both, but he reaches out for dog food. From that small message I found out that he had attempted suicide a few weeks back.
Since 1999 the suicide rate in our country has increased by 24%. I can’t see it going down in these crazy times.
So, two things:
If you’re in pain reach out, even if it’s for a conversation or a bag of dog food. Every day after you decide to live is an opportunity to change the world for the better. You can fight for what you believe using words or you can literally save lives. You can take some ownership in the good the people you inspire do in this world.
Secondly, you don’t need to be an expert to help out. Sometimes it’s just about shooting the shit.
Listen, I’m no social worker, but in this year alone I’ve found jobs for dozens of people, fed dozens of people in need, created dozens if not hundreds of events for different categories of people to come together in support of each other, and I won a human rights award. Yes, the Emily Gottfried Emerging Leader of the Year 2016 award, me, the guy who spent the majority of his adult life training how to kill people and blow their shit up.
If I can do it, anyone can do it. While people give me credit for what I do at the post, the truth is, I’m not special. You can do it. You should be doing it. Especially in these crazy times we live in. People are going to need you more than ever. So do it.