By Marissa Pane
I believe in the power of conversation.
During the past two years, I have spoken at concerts, faculty meetings, high school health classes, college events and plenty of other venues. Through the power of voice, I am able to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds. The one common ground is that these speaking gigs have only lived within New York State. I have driven hours to reach these destinations, but there is only so much land one girl can cover.
This is where the internet lends a helping hand.
Within a matter of seconds, my words are being received by people all over the country – hell, all over the globe. That instantaneous and unlimited reach is what drives me to keep creating for you. From the comfort of my bedroom, my voice is guiding you to reach new levels of positivity, hope, and recovery.
Why is this instant contact or direct link between you and me so special?
Because every second that passes could be the moment someone takes their own life or it could be the moment they decide against it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about one million people, globally, take their own lives every year. Essentially every 40 seconds another suicide is completed.
No matter who you are, those statistics most likely left you with an unsettling feeling. As an avid mental health advocate, those numbers really pack a punch because chances are you or someone you know has almost existed within those statistics.
Chances are if you’re a mental health advocate, you’ve also helped to reduce those statistics.
In fact, that’s the main reason why I’m writing this today.
As a young adult speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), I am the second part of a two-part presentation for teenagers called Ending The Silence. The first part of the presentation is education based – just sharing the facts about mental health, mental illness and ways to end the stigma. The second half of the presentation is when I share the raw truth about my experiences with mental illness. I talk about my childhood and early warning signs of mental illness. I talk about hitting rock bottom and accepting my mental illness, and most importantly, I talk about my journey through recovery to get to the life I’m living today.
My story, or any young adult’s portion of the presentation for that matter, provides the audience with hope. What seems like a story that could never reach a happy ending, is actually standing tall and strong in front of you – it makes anything seem possible.
About a month ago, I presented at a high school on a Wednesday.
What I didn’t know until now, is that after our NAMI presentation had concluded, one of the students who sat through the entire class without batting an eye had visited the school clinician later that day.
The student informed the clinician that he had a suicide plan and was going to take action that weekend.
… Let that soak in.
If our presentation had been scheduled a week later, even three days later, that student wouldn’t have heard a story of hope. They wouldn’t have had others to stand with and remind them that they weren’t alone. Almost as painful a thought, that school would be suffering from a suicide if we hadn’t been approved and regarded as an important topic to talk about.
Three short days was all it took to change this student’s perspective on life.
One 35 minute presentation is all it took to save a life.
If one life was saved from a 35-minute presentation, imagine how many lives will be saved from one blog post, one digital course, or one webinar…
The digital world we exist in provides us with limitless possibilities.
One small act of hope will radiate into something bigger and more beautiful than you ever thought you had the power to conjure. That’s a promise.
If you’re interested in becoming a mental health advocate, my free course, Turning Wisdom Into Words, is a great place to start. http://www.spiesfittofight.com/mental-health-advocacy-course/
Reproduced with permission, originally published here