On Sunday, September 10, 2017, many people from all over the world took a step back to reflect on a rather intense subject: World Suicide Prevention Day. Each year, individuals mourn lives lost and celebrate lives still thriving, as well as look for ways to prevent future losses of hurting people simply giving up on this beautiful gift of life.

In the town where I grew up, there is a bridge that borders two neighboring counties in the region. This bridge has become very well-known. However, it is not because of the highway it carries or the traffic that travels upon it, but for the number of individuals who have taken their lives by choosing to jump off of it.

So many precious lives, gone, in the blink of an eye. Forever. No turning back.

To me, the fact that a bridge, an inanimate piece of architecture, is known for it's mortality rate, is just unnerving. What has our world come to, that more individuals would choose to leap into death, than cling onto hope? But the worse fact is this: it is not the bridge that takes the lives of these precious people; it is the hopelessness and the pain that overwhelms their hearts and their minds.

I believe that we, as people living in a generation of more hopelessness than we can bear, have the power to make a positive difference that can put these awful occurences to a screeching halt.

Changing our world starts by changing the life of one person. Because by lighting a spark in one person's heart, that spark can be spread, and the fire of hope is ignited.

I believe in the power of a simple “hello.” Living in a world in desperate need of love, I cannot stress how important it is to reach out to people and have a listening ear as a companion. It’s so crucial to be open and honest with people. We’re all human, and we all struggle.

Some of us are dealing with different things than others, but none of us can admit that every day is peaches & cream or sunshine & rainbows.

The bottom line is, we all have cloudy days; but we ought to be humble enough to walk with each other through the rainstorms & the hurricanes.

Because, the truth: we’re all dealing with something. And each of our stories matters. We are not empty characters in the ripped, yellowing pages of a book that was left to collect dust on the shelf because no one cared to pick it up. We are living, breathing testimonies of hope. Our stories are the very depth and breadth of who we are.

No matter our past, present, or future circumstances - we are all so worthy of love and acceptance.

I hope that we, no matter our age, race, religion, or status, live for the moments we are able to share that authenticity with others. We each have a voice, and one that is worth sharing. We can rise by lifting others. Let us have the courage to reach out to those who we wouldn't ordinarily talk to.

Let's share stories and encourage one another. We don't have to know all the answers to everyone's problems, but we can, at the very least, walk with each other. Our words truly do make a difference. I've personally seen kindness in action, and it is unfailing each time.

The choices in the moments where we have the power to make a difference are the choices that define us.

Will we take a minute to get to know someone? Will we reach out a hand in support?

What could happen if we did?

I can't speak for anyone else, but I am a mess a lot of the time. I think most of us are, and that's why we need as much love and encouragement as we can get.

Let's share it with each other; we need it now, more than ever.

I am taking on a goal, and I challenge you to do the same: Talk to one new person you don't know, each day. It doesn't have to be an intricate, life-changing conversation. But simply sharing a little bit of yourself with someone else can lead to bigger things than we could ever imagine.

It could save someone's outlook on life, their hope...even their existence.

We're only given one life, so we might as well make the most of it.

In the words of the 2017 World Suicide Prevention theme:

"Take a minute, change a life."

For anyone feeling as if you can't live another day & you are out of hope, I promise you, there is more to life than the storms you're facing. Please reach out to someone for help. It does not mean you are weak; in fact, it shows you are incredibly strong.You are so deserving of this beautiful life, and this world would be so much less without you.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255