The first friend I lost by suicide, his name was Jasper. And he was my gaming partner in crime. He was very compassionate and just cared for everyone like they were part of his family.
And then the second was one of my friends from my youth group, Tori. We hung out there every week. She was very bright and she had a great personality.
When I was told that 63 people a day die by gun suicide, it was heart-wrenching and I was surprised by that number, even though I have been affected by it myself. Now I realize that gun suicide affects way more people than probably anyone realizes.
Suicide isn't talked about until after the fact. I think that that's one of the reasons why there are so many; people feel like they're alone. They feel like they can't talk about it.
We need to reduce is the stigma around suicide and reduce the ways that people have access to lethal means to be able to take their own life.
Before all of the work that I've done in suicide prevention, I also was a believer that if someone survived a suicide attempt, they would try it again. But now that I’ve seen the facts, I know that’s not the case. The idea of second chances is a very important thing for people to realize.
If Jasper and Tori had a second chance, it would have changed my whole life. So many people would still have their son, brother, sister, daughter, and friends. And I think that would have saved a lot of pain.