Connection can save lives, On The Power Presence: Mental Health Awareness Day


Editor’s Note: October 10th is Mental Health Awareness Day. If you are struggling today please see these resources provided by contributing writer, Tavia Avila: #988 lifeline, Forgiveness Exercise –, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ,,

Your presence is a gift.

One of the last times I saw and spoke to my brother, Aaron, he said, “My presence is your gift.” We were celebrating my graduation. Although he was trying to be partially funny because he didn’t buy me a gift, he and I knew there was truth to what he was saying, and his presence was far more important than any material object. I remember looking at him and replying, “Your presence is a gift.”

Seven days later, I received the heartbreaking news that my brother had taken his life. I only had 31 years with him on this earth, but we shared a lot with each other during that time. I often felt like we were in our world with our sense of humor, our depth, and how we could comfort each other through the darkest times.

I watched him search for meaning.

Aaron told me that he struggled with being on earth. I watched him search for meaning and fulfillment, and when his efforts did not meet his needs, he would turn to substances to fill the void. He tried to live a clean lifestyle and align with activities that brought him joy. I acknowledged his growth and positive transformation each time he got on a healthy path. When facing the consequences of his past choices, I would see him spiral into self-destruction again. I reminded Aaron that we all struggle and that he was worthy of forgiveness and living a good life.

A healing journey.

After my brother passed, I wanted to learn more about how I can support myself and others with thoughts and feelings of not belonging. I dove into a healing journey that consists of therapy, meditation, prayer, forgiveness, sobriety, community, being in nature, exercise, healthy eating, laughing, playing, adventures, and courses on mental health and suicide prevention, etc. When I reflect on Aaron’s life, I see that his search for connection with himself and others was a lifetime battle that went back to childhood. Now, I do everything to create a healthier and stronger relationship with myself to support others, including my son.

Prioritizing a healthy connection.

Suicide affects everyone. It is not biased to your age, your race, your class, your sex, or your religion. Prioritizing a healthy connection with yourself will create a positive ripple effect beyond what you can see. Your children will follow your self-care habits and, in turn, create a solid foundation for themselves early in life. In turn, they will positively influence those around them…and so it goes.

No one will ever understand the depths of me, make me laugh, and connect with me like my brother did. He taught me one of life’s most important things: connection can save lives and not underestimate the power of our presence.

Below are some resources that might be helpful for you or someone you know who is searching to strengthen their connection with themselves and create long-lasting authentic connections with others:

#988 lifeline 

Forgiveness Exercise –

 American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


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