Family Don’t End With Blood and National Suicide Prevention Week

 

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, which is roughly one death every 40 seconds. One of the biggest impediments to people getting help is reluctance to admit to struggling with depression and feeling like you can’t go on. The stigma around talking about depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts prevents people from reaching out and getting the help they need – it is crucial that we challenge this stigma and let everyone know that it’s okay to talk about how you feel, without judgment or criticism or censure.

As a psychologist, I’ve worked to eliminate that stigma and help people individually to find a reason and a way to keep living. One of the reasons we put together the book Family Don’t End With Blood was to challenge the taboos around talking about depression and suicide on a broader level – in a way that would be powerful to readers. Sometimes we think of “celebrities” as immune from those difficulties, so Family Don’t End With Blood is written by the actors from the television show Supernatural.  The actors who wrote chapters were all courageous in refusing to allow stigma to silence them. They wrote, with candor and emotion, about their struggles with depression, anxiety and self doubt. They allowed readers into their worlds, into their darkest hours, so that anyone reading the book would know that they are truly not alone. That it’s okay to speak up and tell people how much you’re hurting, and it’s okay to ask for help and to accept it when it’s given.

Sometimes we also think, mistakenly, that people who are “like us” are nevertheless much happier or more successful or more loved or whatever; we don’t think that they’re struggling in the same way that we are. So Family Don’t End With Blood also has chapters written by fans, who are just like you and me. They too write with courage about fighting against depression, anxiety, addiction, the feeling of not being “enough” – and of how they managed to keep going even when it was very hard.

Jared Padalecki’s chapter stands out for his willingness to speak openly about the time he almost gave up – and how he was able to let his friends and family and fans give him the support that allowed him to Always Keep Fighting. We hope, and all of us who wrote the book hope, that his words and his courage inspire others who are having trouble not giving up to keep fighting too. That everyone who reads his chapter feels validated in their own struggle and encouraged to continue on.

There are organizations out there that are doing amazing work trying to change the world. That’s why every copy of Family Don’t End With Blood benefits Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse, an organization that aims to educate about depression, to erase the stigma around mental health, and to prevent suicide.

For his birthday this year, in appreciation of Jared’s chapter and his AKF campaign, we also decided to do a fundraiser in Jared’s honor. He asked that the proceeds go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Most of the actors who wrote Family Don’t End With Blood signed a copy, and a very generous fan contributed almost $2000 to purchase it. We also sold a few tee shirts designed by Angie Siketa, and we were honored to donate all the proceeds to the Hotline, to support the important work they do providing a lifeline to those who need it.

It’s important to remember that we all need to hear encouraging and supportive messages from time to time. We all need someone who cares about us to have our back and to lift us up when we’re in danger of falling and carry us until we find our footing again.

So we wanted to give something to Jared too. Thank you to everyone who wrote him a heartfelt message about what his #AKF campaigns and his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood have meant to you. We gave those messages to him in book form at the last con (with beautiful cover design by Cris Griffin, who also did the gorgeous cover art for Family Don’t End With Blood). I hope your words encourage him just as his words have encouraged so many of us.

You can donate to any of the organizations below that are working to provide help to anyone dealing with depression and to prevent suicide, or give a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood to someone who needs to know that they aren’t alone, and that even lead actors on a successful television show struggle with depression and anxiety and need support sometimes.

Ask about it. Talk about it. Make it okay to talk about ALL emotions openly and honestly, and to ask for help when you need it.

And #AKF.

Jared and Jensen show each other how it felt to read the other’s chapter

There’s help if you or someone else needs it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for it.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Attitudes in Reverse: AttitudesInReverse.org

To Write Love On Her Arms: twloha.com

IMAlive: IMalive.org

Random Acts Crisis Network: randomacts.org/crisis-support-network/

— Lynn and Kim

Family Don’t End With Blood is

available at the links on the home page

 

Vote For A Hero! The 2018 Change Maker Awards and the Supernatural Connection

When we decided to write Family Don’t End With Blood, one of the main reasons was to break the silence around mental health challenges. If nobody talks about their challenges, we all tend to think we’re the only ones suffering, and thus we keep silent. That means we don’t reach out for help when we need it – and that is a dangerous thing. As a psychologist, I know the tremendous value of hearing other people’s stories, so that our own can be validated. So that WE can be validated, and thus feel worthy of the help we so deserve. Many of the chapters in the book are written by people who have dealt with a significant challenge – and have come out on the other side. Some of those are Supernatural fans, and some of those are Supernatural actors.

Jared Padalecki was the first Supernatural actor who told me that he had something to say and a reason to say it in Family Don’t End With Blood. He wanted to tell his own story of coming up against significant challenges of anxiety and depression, so that others would be emboldened to tell theirs to someone who could help – so that others who were struggling would truly know “you are not alone”. Jared had partnered with two important organizations to help get that message out there, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and Attitudes in Reverse (AIR). Both organizations do amazing and important work in fighting stigma, educating people about mental health, and providing a route for people who are struggling to find the help they need.

Because everyone who wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood was passionate about making a difference, we decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to two of the charitable organizations the cast supports – Misha Collins’ Random Acts and one of Jared’s partners, Attitudes in Reverse.

AIR was started by Tricia and Kurt Baker after they lost their son Kenny to suicide. AIR volunteers, along with Trish and Kurt and their therapy dog Miki, speak at schools and universities about suicide prevention and mental health, and have put together a powerful exhibition called “In Their Shoes.” Each pair of shoes in the exhibit is from someone with an important message, written in their own words on their shoes, and helping to increase understanding and empathy for those who are struggling. You can literally “put yourself in their shoes” and understand the need for help and breaking the silence.

I’ve donated a pair of shoes, and so have many of the Supernatural cast. Gil McKinney, Samantha Smith, Mark Pellegrino, Carrie Genzel, Rob Benedict and Louden Swain, Jason Manns, Lauren Tom, Chris Schmelke and many others have written their messages on a pair of their shoes.

Samantha Smith donates a pair of shoes
Gil McKinney
Carrie Genzel

Jensen Ackles donated a worn pair of sneakers, with the message “My brother, I’ve got your back….Always.” When Jared was struggling, Jensen was there for him, and his message reflects his unwavering empathy, understanding and support.

Jared Padalecki donated a pair of boots which have travelled all over the country to help raise awareness. His message: When life breaks you down, never give up. Always Keep Fighting.

Jared and Jensen’s donated shoes and heartfelt messages
Miki feeling safe and comforted between Jared and Jensen’s shoes 🙂

In the chapter he wrote for Family Don’t End With Blood, Jared opens up about his own anxiety and depression, and how sometimes it has been difficult for him to keep going. He writes with extraordinary candor and vulnerability, taking the reader along with him on a lifetime journey of self discovery starting with his own childhood and continuing through Supernatural and the present. Jared shares his story so that others can feel like it’s okay to share theirs – and to accept help, just like he did.

I’ve had an ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression most of my adult life… it did win a few battles along the way (though I am proud to say, I am winning the WAR!). One of those battles was in season 3, during the filming of “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” It was a day like any other: I woke up, worked out, memorized my lines, and headed to the set. But something I couldn’t identify (or, maybe, that I was choosing to ignore) was eating at me. Beating me down. Convincing me that it was going to win, and that I didn’t have a chance to stop it. I made it through my daily hair and makeup and was taken to set for a rehearsal and blocking of our day’s first scene. I got in the car and rode to set, and then I was sent back to my trailer to finish changing into wardrobe and to wait while the crew set up the lighting. I walked into my trailer, sat down on the couch, and I couldn’t get up. I could no longer, on my own, muster the will to carry on. I heard the knocks on my door and I knew my crew was ready for me on set, but I couldn’t make it out of my trailer. After a bit of time, Jensen came into my trailer to see what was going on, and he knew I was not okay. He had the assistant director call for a doctor, and he sat with me to talk. The doctor showed up a bit later and sat with me in my trailer to ask me a few questions. After some time, the doctor told me that his professional opinion was that I was clinically depressed, and I should take some time off from filming.

That’s when it hit me.

I couldn’t stop filming.

I couldn’t put my crew out of work for a day, a week, a month.

I also couldn’t face, or admit, what was going on in my head.

I met the doctor in the middle. I went home, and we pushed that day’s scenes to another time. After a long sleep and a long jog and a long bath, I was ready to show back up for work the next day. Supernatural has continued for many years after that. And then, seven years later, we went back to film at the very same house we were using the day I sat in my trailer and couldn’t make it to set. That day was the day I also launched the first Always Keep Fighting campaign. In over 200 episodes, over 1,600 filming days, and hundreds of locations, what are the odds?

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