The Phone Rings and My Journey Starts
Junior year of college. It was a Wednesday and I had two tests on Thursday, so I knew it was going to be a long day. I just didn’t realize how long. The phone rang, and my life changed. My older brother Mark was gone, and it was a suicide. I didn’t handle that very well and increased my use of alcohol and other substances. Not a great way to handle a stressful life event, and I wasn’t the only one struggling.
Eleven years later the phone rings again, and my younger brother Matthew decided to follow Mark. Matthew also made a forever decision. I lost two brothers to suicide and this thrust me into a very dark place. Therapy and sobriety lightened the room, but I still did not talk about my brothers publicly until 2010.
So You Want Me To Talk About It?
The Call to Speak
I worked behind the scenes of the suicide prevention movement by volunteering for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, but I never really talked about my brothers publicly until 2010. I was asked to speak at a fundraiser for five minutes and I barely got through it and walked offstage when this woman pointed at me and said you need to tell that story more often.
No way—-I was done, or so I thought. I got a call from a local college and they asked me to speak to some interns and in my opinion, it was horrible, but they liked it. Then another school called, and I was on my way. Side note: it was my first professional gig as they paid for my parking!
Transforming Lives Through Transparency
The Power to Change Lives
This talk is truly now a calling and has morphed into me telling my story to a real call to action for everyone in the audience to get comfortable talking about tough topics like mental health and suicide prevention. I have spoken to business leaders, military personnel, faith leaders, students, and basically anyone who will listen, all across the United States and even internationally. One school had 1,000 students show up and after the talk the sound guy told me that I had them the entire time. Because of my life experiences, losing Mark and Matt, and the volunteer work that I do for the cause, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to talk about this subject and the audience agrees.
All of my reviews on Facebook are 5’s and that is the highest you can go. Army, Air Force, Churches, Colleges, Businesses, Homeless Shelters, you name it I’ve spoken at it and the response is always the same—-great job and you need to keep speaking about this and nobody does it better!