NovaXyon Entrepreneurial How Those Psychological Well being Advocates Are Remodeling Ache Into Function

How Those Psychological Well being Advocates Are Remodeling Ache Into Function

Trigger warning: discusses suicide prevention.

In an effort to raise awareness around National Suicide Prevention Month, Jessica Abo sat down with several entrepreneurs and mental health advocates to learn their stories and what they’re doing to save lives. If you or someone you know is struggling, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, text, or chat by going to

Marcus Black’s Story

One autumn evening, Marcus Black faced a life-altering encounter with death. He and his closest friends had a blowout which caused the driver to lose control of the car sending them flying off the highway “Dukes of Hazzard” style nearing a bridge into a deep ditch. After taking six trees down, they finally smashed into a massive tree, which crushed the car like an accordion. All four friends would walk away from the incident with no major injuries. The accident left the car shattered, and Black, questioning his purpose for being on the planet. “Prior struggles, and losing a close friend in an accident, led to extreme mental anguish and left me asking why? Why me? Why must I suffer so much pain, poverty, trauma and adversity?” But something about his accident made him realize he had been asking the wrong question. “The question was never why were all these things going on in my life, but rather what were they for?”

Today Black is a fervent mental health advocate for both Spacemvmnt and Generation Why who speaks at schools, businesses and events globally. For the past five years he’s run a mentoring program for inner-city kids teaching them that life is fragile and tomorrow isn’t promised. “I made a commitment to no longer be bound by fear, but rather to spend each day truly living and spreading my message of love, light, life and hope to all people in order to help them maximize their potential and purpose in life as well.”

Jordan Miller’s Story

Black’s friend, Jordan Miller, is the founder and CEO of Generation Why. He says he was motivated to start his company after learning the distressing rise of teen suicides in their home state of Oklahoma. “It struck heavily with me because I attempted twice when I was a freshman in college. And the turning point of making the decision from being not only a hip hop artist and spoken word artist, but taking the arts and turning it into an organization was when I found out one of my friends actually ended his life by suicide in 2015.”

Since its inception in 2017, Generation Why has traversed the nation, reaching more than 135,000 students. This year, Miller also created a mental health class and a leadership development program to help today’s youth tap into their purpose. “We service 20,000 students a year and it’s been a huge blessing. We have countless stories of students handing over notes saying ‘because you’re here today I’ll be here tomorrow’. And this whole thing resonates with me because if I was able to say something to my friend that ended his life I feel like he would still be here.”

Tammy Joy Lane’s Story

After Tammy Joy Lane came home from serving in Iraq from a suicide attempt, she continued to have suicidal thoughts and survived multiple suicide attempts. “I couldn’t get the care I needed and I figured out that by using kindness as my drug I was able to create a world that I wanted to live in.”

Today she works with people doing suicide prevention teaching courses to raise awareness on what to say, and what not to say, to someone who is in crisis; she also helps people understand how to ask for help before they need it. This way, when they are not okay, they already have the pathways to care up and running. She’s also a speaker who has presented at TEDx and at schools and corporations to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

How She Uses Face Paint To Start Hard Conversations

After she and her husband filed for divorce this year, Lane wanted to focus on something positive, so she started painting her face every day and posting the pictures to Facebook and Instagram. “I call it my year of joy!” She came up with the idea after a dear friend shared that when she got divorced, she wore a cape for an entire year. On most days, she paints her own face; but, other days her daughters do it. Wherever she goes, people stop her to talk about the pictures on her face, which opens the door for connection and conversation around suicide prevention. “The big question they ask is, ‘why is your face painted?’ I tell them I’m going through some hard things so I am doing a year of joy to help me have something to look forward to. I tell them I was in Iraq and struggled with suicide for so many years and having this daily joy helps me want to stay. Without fail, someone shares a story of their struggles or a loved one they lost to suicide. It helps us all feel less alone.”

Spreading Self-Love

Every day, whether she feels like it or not, Lane paints her face. Her hobby has even landed her a few jobs. When she paints kids’ faces, she reminds them how important they are and that nothing they do can make them any less valuable.

Ultimately, she hopes her daily splash of color inspires others to find joy in their lives and to seek help when they need it. “Every day isn’t going to be rainbows and sunshine. It’s up and down and all around. If we can create space for people to be human, it will be a lot easier on all of us,” she says. ““Find a community. Find people doing what you want and join them, support people in their dreams and people will support you in yours. And when you’re not okay, call or text 988. Make sure you have a few people you can call at 3 a.m. And start with one small thing today to create a world that you want to live in.”

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