Out Of The Darkness . . .

I am moved today to write about a fellow who has taken the difficult cards he was dealt and played them for all he is worth.  He has suffered from severe recurrent depression and has struggled to maintain a job.  He has continued to be the best father he can be to his kids and the best husband he can be to his wife.  And they have stood behind him . . . sometimes supportive . . . sometimes giving the kick in the ass that we all need from time to time.  Instead of wallowing in his sadness and struggle the way so many do, he has taken it upon himself to spread the word . . .

In a blue collar neighborhood that is so good at bustin’ people’s chops, he has opened the conversation about mental illness.  About Depression.  About Suicide.  The trifecta that he has struggled with for many years. And the neighborhood has rallied to his support.

He has been a vigorous fund raiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a national organization dedicated to educating the professional and non-professional public on issues related to Depression and suicide. They provide funding for scientific research, information for those who are struggling . . . and support for families left behind by suicide.

This past week, he and his family and friends participated and the annual “Out Of The Darkness” walk to raise money for AFSP, and last night held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser in a local church.  I was honored to attend this dinner and to have a chance to learn more about him and to see him in action.  I am moved and inspired by the work that regular folks do to make a difference about big issues.  Twenty years ago, there would be no mention about this subject.  It has always been true that everyone knows someone who has died by suicide.  Now, instead of looking the other way, we are being encouraged by brave souls like him . . .  to Look . . . to Talk . . . to Act . . . and ultimately . . . to Help.

At home later last night, my daughter suggested I look at the website for “To Write Love On Her Arms”, the way-more-cooler site that brings this message to a younger generation. And challenges them to look within . . .

What’s your biggest fear?

What’s your greatest dream?

The answers matter.

You matter.

I am passing along that challenge.

Look within.  Reflect on the story that you’re living.  Share your story.  Share your time.  Share your talents. Share your life.  Take a chance.  Make a difference.

–Dan Hartman, MD

PS:  Take a look at the websites for these organizations:




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