By accident, I came upon a surprising word that can be used for suicide prevention. I’d like to share a healthy idea that deals with the power of this word.
Some of you know that I am still on a quixotic journey to become a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It all began with a moment of laughter inspired by the show on a night when I felt suicidal.
I had been struggling badly with post-traumatic stress disorder after almost losing my life in a sexual assault. I was sleeping and sick one night when three men came into my home and attacked me.
After the rape, I isolated myself from the world. When I laughed at Stephen Colbert that night, it began my journey to learn how to re-engage with society.
Since then, I have been meeting total strangers each day for the last 1,226 days. I tell these individuals about my story of trauma and my symbolic goal to get on the show to share this massive collective story of hope and support.
Now I’ve walked up to and met 28,318 strangers across the country, and they have shared their stories of trauma, triumph, and support with me, writing on 433 foam poster boards.
One day, a man stopped me and pointed out that one word is written on my boards by those strangers more than any other.
I went home that night and thought about this one word, realizing that this word was keeping me from dying by suicide the entire time. I guess I had always somehow known.
Millions of words have been written on those boards, using 27 Sharpie marker colors. Fascinatingly, people have written those words in 89 languages. Still, it came back to this one word.
It is my name: Blake.
When we are suicidal, we may feel as if we are over here, while the rest of the world is way over there. We are no longer connected to people, and there is no one calling us by our name.
Each night, after I met these strangers for many hours during that particular day, I would go home and read these stories and messages on the giant boards.
These people were connecting with me through my name. Each night, they were pulling me closer and closer. I wasn’t alone anymore. That gave me hope to keep going on my journey. And it kept me going through the night until the next day when I would meet more people.
Our names are so important. They connect us to humanity. We are not alone and isolated when we hear and see our name.
It took 28,318 strangers to show me the healthy power of connection in that one surprising word: my name.
This happy article that celebrates surnames is brought to you by Ron Blake, who can be found at BlakeLateShow.com.