Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Out from the Darkness: My 30th Birthday Fundraiser in Support of Suicide Prevention

I'm turning 30 on Tuesday. I've thought a lot about turning 30, but I haven't written much about it - until two weeks ago, when xoJane published a very personal piece I wrote titled "I Vowed To Kill Myself By Age 30 -- My Birthday Is Next Month."

You can probably tell what the post is about just by reading the title, but in case not, here's the TL;DR: When I was 20 years old, I was very depressed & lost & scared of living, & I promised myself that if I lived to 30, I'd commit suicide. Spoiler alert: I haven't, & I don't plan to, but hitting the big 3-0 is a strange milemarker for me in a way that it's not for many people, for people who haven't struggled with depression & anxiety their whole lives. I'm very, very happy to be here & am very, very proud of the piece I wrote. I'm also very, very thankful for the support & kindness I'm received in reception to its publication.

Having made it this far, though, I'm also quite cognizant of the fact that many others are not here yet, & many more never made it here at all. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that in 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available), someone died by suicide every 13.3 minutes.

I'm turning 30 on Tuesday, & there are a lot of material items I would put on a birthday wishlist, if that were a thing adults could get away with doing. But more than I want a new Longchamp bag or a rechargeable iPhone case or a Groupon for someone to come clean my apartment (see what I did there?), what I actually want is for other people who are struggling like I was to see their next birthdays, too - & the ones after that & after that & after that.

In honor of my own birthday, I'm making a donation to To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope & finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, & suicide. I waffled between TWLOHA & the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, both worthy organizations, but I ultimately decided on the former because it's made a name for itself as a safe place for struggling teenagers, in particular, to turn. Given my personal journey with mental illness - which was in full force during my teen years & early twenties, in particular - this seemed like the best way to help other people who are currently facing the same sort of battles I did.

Will you help me support To Write Love on Her Arms? Visit my fundraising page, www.stayclassy.org/kateis30, to make a donation in any amount. The process is fast, easy, & secure, & your donation is 100% tax-deductible.

If you have been moved by my story or by someone else's, or if you have faced mental illness & thoughts of suicide yourself, I hope you'll consider joining me in this worthwhile effort to give hope & save lives. You can make a donation in any amount, no matter how big or small, but if monetary support isn't in the cards for you right now, you can help me reach my goal by sharing this page on Facebook & Twitter.

Thank you for your support & your love & your kindness & your positivity. From the bottom of my almost-30-years-old heart, thank you, to so many of you, for helping me get here - & now, for helping others do the same.

Bring it on, 30. You don't scare me.


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