"Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by
If you smile
Through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile" — Nat King Cole, "Smile,"

In the classic tune, "Smile," the singer uses their opportunity to share a message of joy and positivity, even in the bleakest of times. Originally composed by the great Charlie Chaplin, with lyrics later added by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954, the tune has been graced with the vocal stylings from that of the legendary Nat King Cole, to the "King of Pop", Michael Jackson. No matter the singer, setting, or the ensemble, this song has no doubt brought many tears to the eyes of listeners around the world, and quite possibly has made a difference to someone who needed to hear it.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. It is a week that should not exist, and yet, it does. It has to. It exists because there are streaks of darkness that inhabit the world that we live in. And of course, mental illness, loneliness, fear and sadness are all components of this streak, and that is only the beginning. It exists in the same way some holidays and national recognition days in honor of tragedy exist.

The national tragedies and mass shootings and senseless acts of killing and oppression we have seen in the past decade should never have happened, but they did and there is no changing that. We can only remember and move forward, hopefully, with a bit more wisdom and fire in our hearts.

Suicide should not exist, but it does.

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-suicide

https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

This week is meant to spread awareness for the tragedy that strikes every single day, every 16.2 minutes on average. (dosomething.org) I believe it is not only a week to spark conversation and spread awareness, but to also make significant change in the lives of those affected by suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and those who have lost someone to suicide. With this, it is a week to continue to battle the ever-living stigma that surrounds mental health and address how big of a problem it is today.

By now, the words that I say here are all probably one that you have seen before. I have read article after article, page after page with similar, if not identical vocabulary, and it honestly makes me feel so mad. It is so hard to put into words how maddening it is that this stigma still exists. That seemingly no better words can be said. And...as someone who has been to the end of the road and has considered suicide as the only way out on more than one occasion...it is very difficult to put that into words as well. It doesn't mean that it can't be, but it is not easy. At all.

So, I ask of you...please learn and aid in any way possible. Reach out to people. Make the pledge and stick to it. No matter where you are, you can doing something even if it is just this — smile.

There are studies that show that smiling and spreading smiles actually holds great value and healing to people who are low and plagued by sadness and depression. It is in NO WAY a huge fix or cure, but it definitely does help. Remembering to smile throughout your day and to smile at others can generate a wave of positivity. If we were all to just smile a little more often, then maybe we would all feel joy a little more often.

Smile today. Smile at a friend. Smile at a stranger. Share your beautiful smile with the world and make the commitment to live for people. To help people who live in darkness. Turn the purpose of the week into the purpose of the year. Then, a lifetime.

Peace and love to you all. Let us be the light inside the darkness. And... don't forget to smile while doing it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255