I first visited an Out of the Darkness Walk in September of 2016, after losing my younger brother, Brandon Ray Brown, in December of 2015. Brandon’s suicide on December 8, 2015, just two days passed his thirty-sixth birthday, was the most horrific tragedy my family has ever faced. However, it was not as shocking as one would expect; I suppose we had known for a long time that suicide was as viable an option for my brother as living another day.
Conversely, I was stunned to learn the following statistic: Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. (AFSP, 2014) Brandon suffered from substance abuse from the time he was first introduced to marijuana at age twelve. It is an undeniable fact that his lifelong battle with addiction played a critical role in his decision to take his own life. Had my family, and I known how high the risk of death by suicide was for Brandon perhaps we would have taken as many precautions as possible to prevent this tragedy. The Out of the Darkness Walks along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provide the education and resources we desperately needed, but were completely unaware even existed. My hope is to work with this foundation to bring awareness to my community and possibly help the next family recognize the warning signs and prevent of suicide in their loved one.