Olsen: It’s always darkest before the dawn | VailDaily.com

Olsen: It’s always darkest before the dawn

Robin Olsen
Valley Voices
Robin Olsen
Jenn Winkeller Photography

It is our darkest hour as a community. Collectively, we are on our knees with grief at the unspeakable loss of one of our own. One of our beautiful children.

As parents, friends, neighbors and a community, we are all collectively grieving and wondering: What can we do to prevent this from happening again? What should we do? What do our children need from us to know they are not alone?

I say to you — no matter how bad things might seem in a moment — it’s just a moment and it will pass. Because things might look much better by tomorrow, but you must still be here to know that.

We all face and will face struggles. Life is breathtaking, beautiful and challenging and can make you feel alone in your feelings. Every adult I know has at least one story of survival or loss that brings me to my knees. I have many of my own. This is the human condition.

But I say to each of you — you are not alone in any way. You matter. Your life matters and the world is by far a better place because you are in it.

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Yes, you.

Jill Wijangco, a suicide awareness advocate and founder of Max’s Mission, who lost her 15-year-old son, Max in 2022, shared this recently on LinkedIn: “Impulsivity & the inability to pause ultimately cost Max his life. If he could have just paused, he would have realized his problem didn’t mean his life should end. Nobody’s problems are that big. Life is worth living & your big problem today will become smaller until one day you don’t even remember what the big problem was.”

Some sobering stats for adults and our children in Gen Z who were born between 1997-2012 are ages 11-26 now who are facing unprecedented challenges. This is without question or dispute.

  • Those in Gen Z are about twice as likely as people over 25 to battle depression and feelings of hopelessness.
  • They are also three times as likely as people over 25 to say they feel their challenges are so severe they would be better off dead.
  • Data tells us that social isolation increases your risk of death by an astounding 30% — with some estimates having it as high as 60%. Roughly 65% of people in this age group reported feeling lonely sometimes or always.
  • A 2020 survey found that 73% of very heavy social media users report feeling lonely compared with 52% of light users.

To quote suicide prevention advocate Leslie Weirich, who lost her son, Austin, to suicide in 2016:

“If we can’t see what’s going on here then we will never turn this tide around. But I believe information is power. When we know better… we can do better. And all the numbers are telling the story now. That no matter what age we are or what generation we fall into — we were wired for connection. We need it like we need air. There are tangible ways we can show up for each other every single day and turn these numbers around. It’s why I believe with all my heart that all of us can play a part in healing our world.”

In all of human history, Gen Z is the first generation to know the problems we face and to have the technology and resources available to solve them. You are indeed the future and there is nothing we cannot accomplish or solve together.

Hit pause. Take a deep breath.

We want to keep you safe. Do it in honor of all the children and teens who no longer have that chance and who will never have another birthday.

I promise each of you — your unique light and life can change the world. All of us in this community — we love you and we are here for you. You are not alone.

It is always darkest before dawn. A new day will always come, and I promise you that we all want to see each of you in it and we value and treasure you and your one precious life.

If you’re struggling or having thoughts of suicide, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” To 38255. To learn more and get involved, visit SpeakUp ReachOut’s website.

Robin Olsen is an Eagle Resident, a mom of two elementary school children, and a suicide loss survivor.

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