It was 27-March and I was boarding a slightly later train than usual into the city when I saw a past colleague boarding the train just ahead of me. I said "hi", as I'm known to do. At first she seemed startled, but recognizing me she waived in my direction. As we got on the train it looked as if we'd each sit in separate sections. I often sit in the middle, open up my laptop and start my day on the train. She stopped turned and we ended up sitting together.
On the way into the city she told me about her kids, how busy her family was and how her husband was doing. All very busy but happy stuff. She told me about her current assignment at work and how she was finding the commute before I asked about old colleagues of ours that she still worked with.
By now you're probably thinking, "but Brian, what does your commute and old colleagues have to do with mental health?" Sadly it had a lot to do with it.
As we talked about our mutual people, the usual suspects were good. It took a few minutes but she came to it. One of our past colleagues had died by suicide last year. She spoke about the affect it had around her office, how it impacted peers and friends. We wondered about their family left behind. It was a tough but necessary conversation. It's not the first time I've had one of these exact conversations. It's heart breaking to think of anyone including colleagues you worked along side no longer being here.
I don't post this to be another sad reminder of mental illness and its pervasiveness, or it's unchecked consequences. I share it as a reminder that what we do with No Surrender Hockey Challenge in the face of it has meaning. It has purpose and it still needs doing because despite hashtags and social media posts, at the end of the day its our collective actions that will save lives. We can all take a sense of pride in supporting one another.
So look after yourself, educate yourself, be there for your friends, family and colleagues. Support campaigns and people who are bold enough to share their stories. I know I will.
Founder of No Surrender Hockey Challenge.