On Sep. 28, 2019, thousands gathered in front of the capitol for the Out of The Darkness event to advocate for suicide prevention in memorial for their siblings, spouses, veterans and family members.

Kylie Johnston, a 14 year-old student, spoke at the event to share her story in losing her father to suicide when she was 10.

Four years ago, I lost my dad to suicide. When I turned 10, I made my first seat at the Out of The Darkness walk in Portland, I spoke out at two other survivor walks and spoken to students at Lucina park college. I have also been interviewed by a few trusted articles about suicide. When I lost my dad, I was still going to school; it was my 4th grade year. When I first found out my dad has taken his own life, I never told anyone until my 5th grade year. Now, I am in seven grade and, as I grieve and accepted my dad’s suicide, I had to deal with the stigma of suicide that still sticks in society. I had many people say that I make these speech’s, or even talk about losing my dad, for attention; but believe it or not, I make these speeches to spread the word about suicide and the outcome so that, everyone knows, especially those who are struggling with mental health, that they are not alone and someone cares. I never thought it would hurt to lose someone more, my dad’s suicide left me guilty and angry because I did not see the signs. If anyone here today is thinking about ending their lives, the people in your life care. They may seem like they do not, but it will only leave your loved ones with a hole in their hearts; there are resources to help you. I encourage anyone who may be personally struggling or dealing with losing someone to suicide to start counseling if they haven’t already. If it was not for counseling, I do not believe I would be where I am today. You can believe you were not affected, and you can say you are okay, but it is okay to not be okay. We all go through different grief journeys, but you shouldn’t have to go through it alone. My dad and I had a rocky relationship, he was loud but deep down he was a kind, creative, smart and strong person. In his final months, he would always tell my brother and I that he was fighting the fight. How he felt alone, and how he was still struggling with my parent’s divorce. He would always deny that he needed help. Which is why I want you all to know that mental health is a battle worth fighting. I want you all to know that you can talk to myself, the wonderful volunteers or someone who is standing beside you. You choose to…share stories, help each other through different stages of grief

Kylie Johnston

We all have our own struggles to beat, and sometimes it is hard for us to admit it because of our stubbornness. Though, just as Johnston said, “it is okay to be not okay.” It is not meant to be easy, but help is out there.

Towards the end of the event, they raised multi-colored beads up in the air to symbolize those they lost. Banding together to help each other through loses that are already hard to deal with and marching to the streets to make their message loud and proud.

Video courtesy by Josh Wolf

I encourage you to give the Suicide Prevention Hotline a call if you are struggling. You will never know what happens if you do not try.

If you’d like to support the National Suicide Hotline, I will leave a link to how you can get involved here. Also, if you’d like to support my journey to showcase what is happening, feel free to like or donate whatever you find necessary. I appreciate your support.