blossom, your awesome podcast, episode number 55 today on the show, David Woods Bartley is here with us. David teaches people how to journey from mental hell Nous to mental wellness. David is a member of the national alliance on mental illness and a national trainer for the groundbreaking suicide prevention technique known as Q. P. R. Question, persuade and refer. David is a keynote speaker and leads workshops and has even been invited to speak on the ted stage. David's goal is to shed light on the issue of mental illness, teaching people how to leverage curiosity to overcome our fears and use connection to create hope. I am so honored and delighted to have David here with us today. David, thank you so much. Welcome to the show. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
I I love doing podcasts. Um it's different than giving a speech and I get to interact with amazing hosts like you that are out there doing extraordinary work and changing minds uh broadening perspectives and really saving lives. I think that is so sweet thank you so much. I mean I am just so moved and touched by the work that you are doing and I mean talk about changing lives, it's really incredible work that you're doing. So give us um I know you had your own struggles and this is how this came about. So you know, as much of that as you'd like to kind of share and then tell us how this line of work did come about for You. Absolute. So my story begins to on August 31, 2011, and that is the day I was going to kill myself. As I like to say, that was the day that the monster in which I refer to as this really this demon, this enemy of in my case clinical depression and suicidal ideation on that terrible day convinced me of this really, this whole buffet of dark and awful lives that I was stupid and weak and pitiful, grotesque, ugly, literally, hideous looking, that I had become an embarrassment and a burden to the people in my life.
And if you look, if you read interviews from people like myself who have survived the suicide attempt, probably the most common responses is that on the day that they attempted suicide, that they held a similar belief that I did on that day. And that is this awful, awful lie. We hold this truth not as a possibility, and it's not logical in the sense that it's an absolute like we could we could measure it, But it is so and then that universal responses, I thought if I killed myself, I knew if I killed myself, everybody would be better off without me. Their lives would improve, not just a little bit exponentially better. My former wife, d my family, my friends. If I just killed myself this burden. This embarrassment. This discouraged this thing that had no redeeming value, it would be out of their life, this obstacle and they'd be better. And it is a tragic thing because in my case, nobody in my life said these things. Nobody said that I was ugly or stupid or pitiful grotesque, that I was an embarrassment of burden.
And certainly nobody told me no one even planted the seed that if I killed myself, I would be better. And that's the thing. So that the monster has this awful ability to suck somebody like me into a place of isolation and then work in our minds, not necessarily from a psychosis or or voices or anything else, but just these dark, awful thoughts. And the sequence is is that the dark awful thoughts held in mind, constantly ruminating for whatever period of time circulating around creates these overwhelming emotions which drive the action. So it's thought emotion action. So here I've come to this knowing and really at the core of suicide in my opinion, it's not about logic, it's not about reason, it's not about data, it's not about science. It's about one thing, it's about belief and we all have at least one personal belief that we are passionate about and standing firmly in that believe, it doesn't matter if somebody came to us with data says, Hey David, I have this report which empirically shows that your belief is wrong.
We don't care. And it's important that I think we understand that because the souls like myself who get to that terrible place, we are being driven for with a set of beliefs. Mhm. So here I am on this day, being driven fourth by these awful beliefs. The primary one that everybody would be better off without me. Deanna and I were living about two hours east of san Francisco and this beautiful 2.5 acre piece of property. And on that morning and the end of august in northern California, there's no chance of rain. And so so I woke up and took a walk around the property and then sat down with the computer and typed out this suicide note. Dear Deanna. I have decided that the time has come for me to go. I am choosing to end my life to be free of the pain in my heart and soul, the betrayal of my mind and the depth of self hatred that I feel. I have become a burden. I wish I never would. And a drag on those around me. I am a damaged shell of a boy not yet close to the man I should be. Everyone will be much better off without me. I am so very sorry. And then took the note off the printer and made a short 20 minute drive from where Deanna and I were living to what's known as the Forest Hill Bridge.
Now of course, everybody knows the iconic Golden gate bridge. Just two hours to the west. But the Forest Hill Bridge is almost unknown outside the small proximity that where it exists, but it's 730 ft. So it is 500 ft further off the ground than its more famous cousin. I parked my vehicle made my way to the midpoint, stretch my arms on the barrier and then bent over 49% of my body weight on the Rail, heading down towards the North Fork American River and 51% back at that moment. But first responder in response to a 911 call, somebody having looked at this scene and thought, dear God, something's wrong with this picture approached me from the left hand side and did the most essential thing that I think each and every one of us can do right now to beat this enemy of suicide is he created connection. Connection creates hope, hope as a weapon and hope saves lives. The monster of suicide has no defense against hope and with hope, all things are possible. And on a day I thought it would be my last day alive, it was instead the first steps in what has now been an 11 year journey.
I've had 11 years of life. I never thought I would. And this journey for mental health illness, mental wellness can now be here with you. Mm wow, okay, so, so many questions now, David. Um so, you know like there's this belief inside of you. But that was must have all of these feelings of unworthiness and all of this. I mean those came from somewhere right, Like, was it through childhood trauma and just a build up of that and I'm if so, assuming that's all of the work you've now done since then to find your own self worth exactly now, and, you know, there's an interesting so, for me, just to kind of, I'm gonna go back and forth on this. So, for me, the genesis the creation of of those horrific thoughts who create the emotions which drive the actions was this unfortunate, terrible confluence of two things. When you have two rivers come together, which is interesting that there are two rivers that come together right underneath the Forest Hill bridge, they create a vortex.
It can be easy to be sucked into this thing and drowned, which was the case for me. So, I inherited genetics, grandfather had killed himself, beloved father had suffered terribly from depression, died at 41 from cancer. But now, knowing the fight, depression just made him just hollowed him out. Cancer just came and scooped up remains just because we have a genetic predisposition of anything, it doesn't matter. It doesn't mean that we're going to suffer from it. You imagine, as it was explained to me to genetic predisposition is like, like, kindling for a fire, something's gotta something's gotta light, it has to be a match. And with mental illness with suicidal ideation with depression, these things that matches almost always trauma And for me, unfortunately, I had trump and it really goes to the point that you asked and mine was an incredibly difficult combination, one that I lost my father when I was seven And that at 11 years old had the horror of being sodomized and raped twice by boy scout leader. And the more work I do, the more I'm convinced is that while genetics can play a part, I think it's incredibly it's a very small percentage.
It's really, it's all about trump trauma, trauma leaves a mark, trauma kills a part of trauma is is this internal condition invisible to other people that is corrosive. It will literally eat you a lot and it does it very slowly and cruelly. And I ran across a quote from a woman by the name of jane levy who puts trauma in such an incredibly impactful and visual description, which she says trauma fractures comprehension as a pebble shatters a windshield. The wound at the site of impact spreads across the field of vision, obscuring reality, challenging belief. So before my nightmare of being raped at 11 years old, my belief. My whole set of belief was I'm good. I'm worthy. I'm loved. I'm okay. I'll be taken care of after that in unfortunately, both a literal and figurative sense the whole of who I am is split open and seeds of those dark, awful thoughts are planted into my very being.
And then over the course of some 40 years it became systemic and they blame to choke off all the truth of who each and every one of us are right, we make mistakes and we do stupid things, but it doesn't mean that we are sentenced to be devoured by this monster of suicide. But trauma kept inside this trauma that can heal. But on the converse of that, in the words of the great stage, mr Rogers who said if it's mention herbal, it's manageable. And I think the single best thing we can do in the creation of connection as this first responder did for me on that dark spot on that tall Tall bridge is in the words of Lady Bird johnson, given to give a person the opportunity to hurt out loud, open up and allow this pain to go forth to dissipate and help them relieve some of this weight and move in their own journey from mental health illness to mental wellness. It's possible. I know, because as mentioned to you before the show, in concert with other extraordinary people, we cannot be well alone, were not meant to be well alone.
We can do it in partnership, wow! Oh my God, David, that was so powerful. And um, you know, a couple of things here, first of all, I want to just commend you for sharing even, you know, those parts of the trauma being sodomized and whatnot. Because I think, you know, I know we're turning a corner here with shame and people being, especially men in particular feeling, you know, safer. I know some men who have been through similar things and they carry that trauma. I mean they run close to them. I'm good friends with them, so they were able to share in private, but they're holding that inside still and it continues to eat away at them. Um, but for you to share publicly, you know, the power of that in just I have to commend you, I just honor you. And I think it's so amazing that you can be out there with this and free yourself of this and show other people, um, you know that it is liberating and powerful to be able to share and let it go essentially.
No, and you're right and and you know, I can't emphasize enough that I would not be at this place without the support of extraordinary people. My family, my beloved now my previous wife Deanna, who is still a very, very good friend, incredible psychiatrist, incredible therapist. That that allowed me those initial opportunities to share this and now each and every time in the grace of somebody like you or an audience that I have a chance to share that part. It takes away one more flake of shame that it still attaches to. And one of the things in in emphasizing the impact of trauma. And I don't use stats for the most part, I don't I typically don't use a power point because I want to share personally and I front load my talks with the problem because I think what we're doing is in our passionate attempt to solve the problem with stepping over the problem, but we don't understand the problem. You know, I tell people I'm a touchy feely speaker and it's a good thing because suicide is a touchy feely thing.
Like it's all about feelings, it's all about emotions, it's all about these things and say, well, real men can't talk about their families. Well, Real men are dying from suicide. How's that working for us? And the one stat that I will use is it's interesting because if you now Sue, going to the internet and says, what's the percentage of people who attempt or do in fact kill? They kill themselves? How many of those people are suffering from mental illness? And unfortunately, what you'll read is it's 90%. And and that is not true That they have done numerous what they call medical analysis is which you probably know it took 50 years of data and it actually is the majority of people who attempt or do end their life by suicide suit are not mentally ill. Now, I live in the box of that, but I'm actually in the minority. And so the question comes up, my dear God with somebody who has no mental illness, because we automatically think that why would they kill themselves? And it's basically because of one thing, it's because of life. And I tell people and this Dear sister here now with you, the truth is, every single person in the world is at risk for suicide.
And it's not because we're mentally ill, it's because of this thing called life. Imagine that the horror of these shootings that we have suffered just here in the last week show, imagine especially with texas, can you imagine if you are a parent and your child was murdered in that way, that I think any of us could say, wow, that could get us into a place of hopelessness. And I think that's ultimately what happens is trauma of any kind trauma. And the fact that life suit can come up and change in an instant, can bring us into the place of hopelessness if there is no hope, there's no reason. And and with all that what I like to share with with what I call all people's souls, not from a religious perspective from, from the in fact, there's something greater inside of us and that greater thing gets damaged, it gets hurt, it's not broken, were wounded or injured, they've been, they've been hurt. And we think about life that the truth is human distress is not a mental illness, trauma is not a mental illness, but we automatically think it is when somebody is driven to that terrible point, we have to change that conversation just realize, you know what human distress response that we have to, that is completely normal, But we haven't normalized the conversation.
And and I had this realization the other day when I was flying back from the from the bed from my because of the problem of the unfortunately the incorrect information empirically, but also the prevailing attitude of society that anybody who is suicidal is automatically mentally ill, imagine now what the impact people who have suffered a horrific experience of trauma. And because society tells us, well, if you're contemplating suicide, you must be mentally ill. Imagine now what we are doing to that person who has been traumatized. We are convincing them that they're mentally ill. I'm like, oh dear God, right, this attitude, this prevailing thought is killing people, not just we're convincing them in addition to what they're not like we're working in partnership with the monster, were aiding and abetting the enemy. So I just said we have to change that. Mhm, wow.
So, David, now, you know, it's so interesting for me and I've shared um here and there and some of my writing and things um and I do intend on sharing this more extensively, but you know, I have a direct um connection to suicide because when I was 16 years old, my cousin killed himself and I found him and it was um and I've had insomnia ever since. And now, you know, I'm now actually recovering from that. But you know, I've spent so much time trying to understand this so much time with kind of, you know, self blame and shame around why didn't I do something, why didn't I know, why couldn't I have stopped it? How did I not know this, or why couldn't I help him? You know, and there were really no signs he wasn't mentally ill. And um I love that you're getting this out there, it was a, you know, traumatic shock to my psyche and um yeah, so I really appreciate you, kind of sharing this, you know, other insight and this other um kind of deeper, you know, understanding of this, that it's not just people who are mentally ill, it's never just obvious, it's any one of us could be, you know, fall victim to it or have someone who's feeling suicidal and is perfectly, you know, uh mentally well, but having some sort of belief system that's encouraging that, and and if you think about it too, and again, I just part of my purpose is just to flip this whole thing on its head.
It's just I think that there is great work that's being done by amazing people. Great Kevin Hines, who who survived one of one of the I think 19 people know he of course won, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived Kevin's doing extraordinary work. There's a great, there's an amazing researcher, dr craig Bryant who wrote what I think is the best book on the subject called Rethinking suicide, and he has influenced my work as well, there's dr thomas joiner who talks about he has a what he calls the interpersonal theory of suicidal behavior and what what Dr joiner says is three things need to be present for a person to kill themselves. First thing is a sense of burdensome nece okay check a sense of social isolation or alienation check. And the third thing Sue is really interesting. I didn't understand it when I first read, it says an individual would kill himself with those two things in hand. They have to have what they call the acquired ability or the acquired capacity for death and what that means is somebody has to for whatever over whatever period of time has been able to overcome the strongest instinct in human nature and that is the will to survive.
And so how they do that is either repeated exposure to trauma or repeated. Like unfortunately, you dear sister have had to experience the repeated memory of trauma, the rumination of that self harm or just the habituation of thought that when those three things are together, a person most likely will kill themselves. But it's interesting and my whole on the positive side, really my messages is that connection creates hope. Hope is a weapon. You know, we think of hope as this soft cuddly thing and that's true. But on the other side of that coin, hope is relentless hope is ruthless in its pursuit of its enemy of suicide, of isolation, of despair, of trauma. And they hope will not stop and that's why I hope saves lives. And it's interesting if you read what dr dr joiner talks about, he said there is these three things were present, burdensome nous isolation and the acquired capacity for death. When those three things are present, there's one saving, there's only one thing.
And paraphrasing what he says, he uses the word that here's what he said, that the need for belonging is so strong and I would say the need for connection, the need for belonging is so strong that when satisfied even when these other factors are present person will not kill themselves, we have this and and what I like to say, I'm not saying this is easy, you know, you have had to work, I can't imagine what your experience must have been like to discover this beloved soul who had passed somebody that was so important to you and how that wounded you, how it hurt and didn't break you, but how you have had to work so valiantly over all these years. Two process to heal to bring your trauma to life, to mention it. So it's manageable. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah, it's been a you know, it's been a challenge and um uh you know, just like everyone, I am a work in progress, but I have done extensive work around that.
So um yeah, it's really something and now let me ask you, David, do you feel because I think it's it's so beautiful that you in that moment, right? Like divine timing. Have that guy arrived a minute later? Right, 30 seconds later. Whatever, what are your thoughts on that, do you feel um like now with this amazing work that you're doing and saving lives and speaking about this so powerfully and empowering others and offering hope, oh, do you feel divinely um kind of like there was this greater calling or purpose for you with this? Yeah. You know, and and I speak mostly in secular environment, so I try to keep it that way. I also preach a lot. I'm not a pastor, I'm a preacher. So all across the theological spectrum thomas. Paine has this great article or a great quote that says the world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good as my religion, that I adopt that as my creed.
And I'm I'm a freak about serendipity. I don't believe there are accidents. Now. Let me say when I don't believe you use the word life, um and we can interpret that any way that you would like to. I don't believe life has its fingerprints or his life's D. N. A. On any trauma. I don't I also don't believe not everything has a silver lining. I don't I don't believe that at all. My my situation, your situation, there is no silver lining in that at all. And yet life is always looking to respond to our hurt that the great Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote an amazing book called When Bad things happen to Good people. And he lost his beloved son Aaron the premature aging disease. And he hears a cleric trying to process all this and what he came to believe. And I'll use the G word here because he was too said he came to believe that on the day Aaron died, God's heart broke as much as mine. And so I think we live in a universe that is constantly trying to respond to our needs because life can be so incredibly awful and difficult.
And so I think what we need to do so is to recognize these serendipitous moments that that man, That officer on that bridge at that moment, the psychiatrist who in the hospital in the psych ward where I was for 15 days when I shared the rape and the sodomy for the first time and had regret because I still shared like you Shane He told me four simple words, he says it's not your fault, you know, to change your life and all these different little things. It can be, it's just so simple that I think if we recognize it for me and I'll use a him again, this is not about preaching evaluation, there's great him that's his his eyes on the sparrow. But he watches over me every moment of serendipity for Miss Sue because I've lived so much of my life feeling unworthy even to this day because they still have challenges, still have thoughts of killing myself, but I know what to do, spent so much of my life being in a place of isolation that serendipitous colic divine moment has me has gives me the experience like wow, all that life has to do and the spinning blue marble that's put in perfect proximity to the sun and the stars.
Somehow life now is paying attention to me. And so I think that the more I recognize that the more I see it and it gives me hope really the whole thing is it's all about hope because one thing never happens when people have hope. People never kill themselves. People never kill themselves when they're hopeful and we can always presence hope by way of connection. To go back to paraphrase with dR joiner says that the need to belong is so strong and when satisfied, even when these three things are present, the person lives, it's all about hope, it's hope. Mm Now for someone feeling hopeless, how where do they start to cultivate hope? So there's a couple different ways. I mean one that or a soul like me, you got to take care of yourself and and then and that's a little too vague. So I always have been advised coach supported to put what I call my self care on a pedestal Now. Self care is I don't know another word because I think, okay self care, gonna massage it in a bubble bath, you know that's great, especially if somebody's in there with you, but that's not necessarily self care in that regard.
So for me, the monster will eat all of me, It's just the entire thing. And I say body mind and spirit, however you define that whatever your interpretation is or not, so depending on what the severity of your circumstances and everybody has different severity, you can have situational depression, you can have situational trauma that you can heal, but for me it's about diet, sleep, exercise time outside, it's about counseling and therapy, it's about psychiatry, it's about the two meds that I take every day. It's about group walking, sitting with amongst a group of people, not in the therapeutic sense, but but can relate not so much, I feel you as I'm feeling with you and one of the great acronyms of hope is hearing other people's experiences. So I have this care of body care of Mind and then Spirit for me is not necessarily for for some who go to a place like myself, go to a house of Faith. Spirit is about purpose, it's about meaning in the words of the great Simon Simic, it is our why in the absence of a purpose or why there is no hope.
So. All roads of self care lead to hope when our body feels good, we're hopeful when our mind feels at peace and and clear and calm. We're hopeful when when we have a sense of purpose, we are hopeful. So an answer for two parts of this question answer first, it takes a lot of work. It does. I would love to say it's easy, you know, I would love to shoot for you to go to my therapy appointments and allow me to benefit. Can't you have to do this, but we don't do it alone. And then the other part is Its connection three most important words in mental health and suicide prevention. Our connection connection connection because in every single connection, hope is always there because our minds can't hold competing thoughts, can't think about killing myself when I'm in the presence of you at a minimum, I'm back to a place of neutrality on a bad day. But connection always because this need for belonging and connection is so strong. Hope is there. And I teach three methods, recognition, understanding and expression, teach people become a master at remembering people's names because we know what it's like to feel invisible.
Imagine when we just practice it, we give that gift of recognition to somebody who unbeknownst us on a day and it happens, they're suffering. And then how about if we leverage curiosity to create understanding because we know what it feels like when someone allows us to tell our story and then become masters at expressing ourselves, to letting people not just to hurt out loud, but to let people know how we feel about that William James, who is considered to be the the founder of american psychology says that the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated and it's not so much appreciated for what somebody does for who they are. Like I appreciate the fact that you are in my life. I now Sue Sue with you, I have this connection in regards to this latter point, you know, we can send a text which is a beautiful thing, we can make a phone call, we can we can do an email, but I teach people really, let's go back to the handwritten note because we all know what it's like, especially on a tough day, we'll go to the mailbox and there's that uniquely sized envelope that's handwritten has usually some very cute return address label and we know it's going to be good because if people think we're a butthead, they're going to send us attacks, they're not gonna use a stamp and and I share all these different notes that I have received over the years and there's just they always create hope.
So for for my brother, a sister who's out there suffering, you got to take care of yourself and it's a lot of work, you know, oftentimes it's inconvenient. Oftentimes I don't want to do it. Oftentimes I just want to be, which I get and I honor but always know also know what it's like on the other side of that. I know it had an interesting experience recently that I was on a plane, was early in the morning and was looking out the window on the window seat and for the first time, soon in my entire life had the clarity about what the impact of my death would be. Now. It wasn't about guilt, what it was, it was about work. I my death would have impacted people because I had a place of worth in their life. And I mentioned that one because it was an unbelievable experience. But also two for the people who trying to understand somebody like me. It's that it has taken me a long time to get to that place and I still forget it.
And so to flip it back to the brother and sister out there. What I'm sharing is that if you care for your body, mind and spirit, if you leverage the act of recognition, understanding and expression in every part of your life because it's reciprocal, that's a tenant of your own self care and something you can give to somebody else. I can promise you you will have experiences of hope, You will have these glimpses, these moments of mental health, the likes of which mhm I never thought possible. Mm, wow, that is so beautiful. David. Now, you know, let me ask you like this, discovering having this kind of epiphany in that moment on the airplane of okay, I have this place of worth with these other people. But was there was that not being conveyed to you? Were you in denial of it? Because I think a lot of people, right? We have people around us who love us who have hold worth for us and we are, you know, means something to them.
But we're not always having those deeper conversations, right? We're not people, we're not telling our loved ones. Hey, I really love you, you matter and vice versa. So yeah, No, no, exactly. And I think because I have my former wife who's still a great friend of mine, wonderful person and and you know, my family. So I had from the outside looking in and in the reality connection and people say, well, gosh, you know, does that kind of go against your theory? And I said it doesn't because what still was inside was the hurt that wasn't expressed. So All of that trauma that I had never shared all of this internal fight, this this invisible battle that that I was one of those smiling depressive and one of those smiling people who suffered with suicidal ideations for close to 40 years. And if my family knew the hurt, they would have allowed me to space to speak it that I become convinced that was the worst thing I could do both for them.
And because the monster had convinced me. So I think for those who are trying desperately to help somebody who's suffering. But I get this question a lot, which is a beautiful question that they say, you know, I don't know what to do, I've tried everything and I say, you know what? Ask him how it feels like the questions to three questions. The three initial questions from the first, from the first responder to me on that bridge. First one was David, would you please tell me what does it feel like to be the press? Now, that's a counter intuitive question thing. Dear God, man, why don't you just toss that soul of No, that's the question needs to be asked. That's the difficult question. And then he said, David, would you please tell me what is it like on your worst day? We said David, what's going on when you feel hopeless? And then he just listen. I think sometimes what we want to do is we want to give people our advice from good intention. But really people, people just want support and then he listened. And the great Rachel Naomi remen who wrote the amazing book, Kitchen Table wisdom says this about listening that are listening creates a sanctuary for the homeless parts in another person, person who is in the place of suicide.
They are, they're homeless, they're homeless mentally spiritually and psychologically. And the simple act of asking a counterintuitive question to allow a soul to her outside and thus creates a space and feeling understood, thus feeling connected. That's feeling hopeful for me, shifted my body weight all the way back so I was on the safe side of the rail, but dr paul Quinn it, who is the creator of Q. P. R. Which is like CpR for mental health, says it's the unasked questions that lead to tragedy and these are not easy questions, the difficult questions, but we gotta we gotta use connection, we have to use curiosity like a scalpel and they say with cancer, you got to get good margins, we got to clear out the hurt first before we can put something else in. I think what's happening is because of the uncomfortable it of the questions which I totally get, we're trying to add stuff on top, it's not going to sink down. So we got to do it different. We just we gotta flip it. And the other thing is that I share with you is we're never going to get to zero suicide, it's never going to happen because we're in this thing called life because life can jump up like it did in texas, like it did in buffalo, like it's done in these other places and change in an instant that will put us into a place of distress and trauma and which hope is no longer existing, but it doesn't mean that we can't save lives and we can do it in incredibly simple ways.
Drew Ramsey dr Drew Ramsey says this and what I take an hour to share in speech, he doesn't one short paragraph and this is applicable to to sue you and I and everybody else in here. This is his work. Someone you see today is thinking about killing themselves. Your smile, your question, your love could save them. Trust me. They told me it did. So someone we see today is thinking about killing themselves. Your smile, recognition, your question, understanding your love expression could save them. Trust me, he told me we can do that. We can save lives, wow, that is so powerful. David. Now let me ask you, you know, a purpose. I know I'm an avid believer in this as well. Like it just when people many times are feeling hopeless or lost, there's that lack of, you know, a sense of lacking that sense of purpose, right?
They don't know what their purpose is. They're not excited about something or working towards something. It's just kind of this monotonous thing. Um, do you, for you, is it like this kind of clear cut thing where prior to the suicide, there was this lack of purpose and now you're just fulfilled in your purpose. Is that fair to say? Well, actually, it's it was actually different. So, um my former beloved and I ran an incredibly successful and internationally recognized end of life. Animal sanctuary called a chance for list and the sanctuary was home to as many as 100 animals at any one time and we did no adoptions because we wanted the ones that nobody wants. So in that moment had extraordinary purpose. At one point we were the cover story in the life section of USa today. But as a high functioning depressive as as a smiling, depressive there I was moving forth, there was that sense of purpose.
But ultimately because of the pain and the trauma unexpressed became systemic. The purpose alone wasn't enough the same evening. So, um, but what happened is, and again, life responding to my cry is what I do now is I use the sanctuary doesn't exist anymore, but I use stories of animals from the sanctuary to wrap mental health and to give people of all ages, it's not just, hey, look at the animal, that's cute. But there's always a teaching point and and it's an extraordinary gift that I don't take any credit for because in moments of exercise or whatever, there's these ideas for stories come and they were because it gives people proximity to the subject without jamming it down their throat. And so now I feel like I have an incredible purpose and in terms of what my mission is, it's twofold one, I can put it two different ways. one, I want to make suicide, what I call a casserole disease.
So in other words, if you're in some sort of group or congregation when, when a member is in some sort of distress, we show up with something baked something yummy, some usually a casserole. But when somebody's been in a psych ward or a family member of a friend is has been suicidal or going through a tough time, we we tend to step back. Well what if we change that? What if we went to them with with something like to show up at their house and say would you please break bed with us? And another way I put it is I want to change suicide from a condition to a cause think breast cancer because when something becomes a cause stigma can attach itself to us. Can you imagine soon? Like if we spoke with any kind of disparaging tone of an heroic woman or man for that matter who has overcome and has survived breast cancer and we'd be taken out in the wood chip and rightfully so just beat. But so what if we got to the same place with suicide that becomes this cause? Which I think we're moving this way because again, once something becomes a cause it's teflon stigma can't attach itself.
And I think we'll hit that place of the of critical mass. Absolutely. Mm wow. Okay, David, you are just, oh my God, you have so many insights and I would love to circle back and do this with you again, go deeper because I feel like we're just kind of scratching the surface here, this is like a kind of a, you know, a never ending conversation, there's just so much um wisdom that you're bringing to this and shedding so much light on it and I just think it's so amazing. And so first of all I want to just thank you today for your time. You have been so incredibly just inspiring and um I'm touched and moved so and honored to have had this time with you and the feeling, the feeling is mutual. And I would love anytime you would like me anyway, I can serve you and I'm here as your servant. Um and I'm happy next time we get together to tell you lots of animal stories and they're great, they're great stories, they're just, they're so good.
I get so excited because I'm like, I don't, I don't have the wherewithal to come up with these stories. Like they just, it's amazing. They just pop into my head. I'm like, that's such a great story, Oh my gosh, it really can pay. And also is teaching. I mean they're very, I don't always like to say, look, not just they're cute, they were teaching point. So I yeah, I would like any time you need just call and I will answer, oh, I love that, yes, and I would love love, love to have you share those animal stories. I mean it sounds amazing. So that's exactly what we're gonna do next time and now in closing, I would eat Already shared like so many amazing insights, so much wisdom, so much just great practical tips and guidance. But in closing if there were one powerful message, your hope for the world, one thing you'd like to leave us with, what would that be? You know what? And this has come to me. Thank you for the question is for the soul who was suffering get in those tough moments and one I would say I am so sorry that you're suffering.
What I would also say is I would say have hope, hold on pain ends. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm not trying to minimize your pain but what I know is to hold on pain end. And if you can ask yourself, consider this one question that somebody asked me one thing, what would it be like if you felt like you were working? Remember when someone checks in question, that would be that changes everything. The brothers sister who's out there is just just hold on pain ends and just if you can ask yourself, what would it be like, what would your life feel like? What would the feeling be like if you're worthy because the truth is you are hmm, wow, I love it. David, you've been awesome. I thank you so much. Thank you for allowing me to be here.
This is like it's a good day. I love it. Thank you so much. Mm