This song was very hard to record but, I chose to do so because being an incredibly vulnerable subject that not only causes me significant pain to reflect upon but it’s also somewhat difficult to reveal this level of personal emotional honesty so publicly because as you may have noticed, I have been less active in posting on behalf of End the Silent Epidemic and Friends for Life recently. For me, this is one of the signs that I am struggling significantly, because like many of you, while many of my days can be challenging, unless the situation is unprecedented, I persist and partake in as many of my normal responsibilities and passions as possible. When it comes to the honor, responsibility and privilege that is being the director of End the Silent Epidemic and Co-Founder of Friends For Life LLC, when I have to pare down my activity because of struggles, this is always the absolute last thing to go. So therefore, my infrequent posting is indicative of just how poorly I have been doing. But I have found that whenever I am in my darkest moments, turning to this community and sharing with you all something authentic and from the heart helps me feel like, even if I cannot meet my usual level, I can at least walk my talk by showing that IT IS OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY, and that there is TRUE & RARE STRENGTH IN PERSISTING & SHOWING YOUR AUTHENTIC EMOTIONS DURING TIMES OF ADVERSITY (rather than what society would have us believe and what stigma insists that we do, which is hide away when we are struggling and make sure to only come out and fix our instagram feed when we can showcase the most enviable and most often unrealistic moments in our live. By choosing to share this vulnerable moment rather than pretend things are better than they are or only post when life is going my way, I BELIEVE THIS IS A WAY TO ACTIVELY and TANGIBLY CHIP AWAY AT THE MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA. I often specifically choose to express myself through song because it is a very CONCRETE WAY OF ENDING THE SILENCE AND REPLACING IT WITH MEANINGFUL TRUTH! I choose this song, "Father Daughter Dance" by Kesha, because the past two years of my life have been perhaps the two hardest years I've ever known besides my very early childhood. My "father," although he in no way deserves that title, has played a devastating role in why I suffered then and why I am suffering now. Though my logical mind knows I am better off without him in my life, with it being well over two decades since he "disowned" me at the age of nine, for cutting my hair, a grave sin that had me officially cast out of the religious cult in which I was raised: Despite all the pain he caused me by "disowning" me, and far before that when he enabled the abuse in my very early childhood I sometimes find myself mourning the oddest things, like how I will never have a "FATHER DAUGHTER DANCE." I often wonder what it means that I think about these things and if I am the only one? Does anyone else have a parent who has gravely misstated them and they logically know that they are better off without them in their life but still sometimes regret the big life moments that will never occur because you don't have your mom or dad? Thank you listening to my video and reading my post. I hope it inspires a conversation in the comments below about anything related to this: such as others who've lived without a parent, those who've suffered abuse, neglect, abandonment or experienced the singular loss of a parent to death, (including of course death by suicide). It needn't be a parent, it could also be an important parental figure, adult or any loved one in general whose absence or presence in your life has either negatively or positively impacted you and you could discuss what you mourn regarding opportunities you will miss out on or memories you hold dear and treasure for getting to share with them. These are just some ideas to get the conversation started, feel free to take it wherever it needs to go to be the most supportive to you and the others within the conversation. Also, as a member, you can start your own thread (an article or multi-media post just like this that tells a story, posses a question, and ideally aims to start a meaningful peer-based support conversation: just press create new thread on the forum page)! Why One Must Sign-Up as Member To Participate (revamped our signup, takes <30sec, requiring nothing but an email address)! We want to explain why one is required to sign-up as a member in order to access the interactive components of our website (including being able to participate in the comments of this forum post, to crate your own thread, to use the private chat feature (like IG DM), to join passion-based special interest groups, and to RSVP to attend our virtual social, activism and educational events). Put most simply, sign-up process only requires two things, 1. an email address, 2. agreeing to the Terms. of Service, Privacy Policy, and Code of Conduct, because this empowers the site owners to legally remove harmful content and users to keep this a truly safe space. Please note we've completely overhauled the sign-up process based on your feedback, all personal questions and extraneous details have been removed and it's now a <30 second sign-up process that couldn't possibly be simpler in that it now only requires your email and the agreement to our policies (there are literally no down sides--it's 100% free, we will never share or sell your email address under any circumstances, or even send you forum updates unless you specifically click "subscribe to updates," you can unsubscribe or full-on delete your account at anytime, and you have the option to choose a non-identifying username if you prefer anonymity). So in summary not only is the sign-up process now easier, faster, and 100% castle and string free, but perhaps of equal or more importance we want you to know we only require sign-up so that we, the site owners, have a way of being legally empowered to host and safeguard an online forum where peer-to-peer based support for youth mental health, mental wellness and suicide prevention flourishes because participants feel safe sharing vulnerable and sensitive truths on this platform knowing that this is a true SAFE SPACE with an enforceable zero tolerance policy resulting in removal of material or users that stigmatize, silence, bully, shame, or are triggering, violent, graphic, hateful, or in any other way detract from the safety of the platform and/or disrupt our founding purpose.


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Let's come together in our 1st official act as the peer-support warriors of the FFL Forum, by releasing a video montage comprised of our diverse, brave, emboldened faces, voices, & artwork conveying a unified & most powerful message to raise awareness, smash the stigma, & "END THE SILENCE"!


What is the Initiative & What Role Do I Play?

This forum, meet-up and safe-space is built upon our proprietary Friends For Life peer-to-peer gatekeeping support modelbased on a foundational guiding principle of absolute confidence in the unparalleled passion, ability and desire of the global youth population to build a kinder, more #emotionally intelligent, equal, ethical & authentic world: a world where suicide is not the 2nd leading cause of death in people 10-34 years old, causing more deaths annually than any physical disease in our generation's population!


That is why, for our very first public action initiative as a PEER-TO-PEER SUPPORT PLATFORM, the FRIENDS FOR LIFE FORUM, MEET-UP, and SAFE SPACE would like to stay true to our guiding principle by placing YOU ALL AT THE CENTER of the initiative and also invite any interested member to take up a LEADERSHIP ROLE (see more below).


Video Montage:

We excitedly invite you to join us to be part of a powerful video montage showcasing all our amazing supporters from around the world coming together in one artistically produced video that conveys a simple yet powerful message in three simple and likely familiar words: “END THE SILENCE.”


How to Participate:

To participate simply submit a photo, 3-5 second video looking into the camera and either holding a sign, editing the photo with the words, or in a video cli, speaking the words “END THE SILENCE.” The deadline for submission is about 3 months from now but read the goals of the video below and if you’re as excited as we are after reading them, just grab your phone now and be part of this initiative within the next five minutes!


What Will This Video Accomplish (Goal of Initiative)?

1. What will this video accomplish? Each submission will go such a long way in helping raise awareness, smash the stigma, and END THE SILENCE by showing how many of us are bravely stand in the sun, proud of who we are and what we have survived and, for many of us, continue to contend with many if not every day. Talk about true strength and grit.

2. Why video format and why so personal (is there an alternative)? People may be able to toss aside statistics or write-off other representations of this crisis, and we believe this is in large part because it is easy to disassociate the catastrophic numbers, we hear from the actual human toll being caused. So, we’ve decided on making a video showcasing dozens upon dozens of the diverse faces of our community from across the globe, individuals bravely stepping-up to. showcase their humanity, because when viewers witnessing the video, the tangible human toll will be unavoidable, impossible to simply toss aside and go on ignoring or worse yet, stigmatizing. Viewers will be shocked by the vulnerability strewn across grown men’s faces, because we live in a culture wherein men aren’t allowed to show such emotion. Parent’s will no longer be able to put off this issue when they see the innocence absent behind the eyes of a girl not yet 11, a girl that looks just like their daughter or one of her best friends. Note there is an option to submit an anonymous version explained below. *

3. How will the video impact the stigma, silencing and inaction surrounding youth mental health & suicide?The more of us who can stand proudly as our authentic selves, NOT ONLY NOT ASHAMED of our mental health struggles but RATHER, PROUD OF ALL OF THE TIMES WE HAVE FALLEN & REFUSE TO STAY DOWN—a strength that frankly few who don’t struggle with mental illness will ever have to develop— will demonstrate to those who would continue to perpetuate the lethal stigma that is in large part responsible for the self-harming and suicide robbing us and the world of our brothers and sisters, that we will not be forced into the shadows they are trying to back us into.

4. How is this related to the peer-to-peer forum: Last but certainly not least, the final goal we hope to achieve is to offer hope and a safe path forward via this peer-to-peer platform for our peers who have not been able †ø travel as far along their healing pathway as some of us have. Those who feel completely alone in their struggle and are beginning to contemplate or have already attempted suicide, believing it is genuinely their only way out. Perhaps more than any of the above, we hope this video will allow us to act as PROACTIVE STEWARDS OF THE SAFETY OF OUR MOST AT-RISK PEERS, by publicly, proudly, lovingly demonstrating that struggling with mental illness and suicide IS NOT A WEAKNESS, LAZINESS, A CHARACTER FLAW, A BURDEN ON OTHERS, & CERTAINLY, IT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT ONE MUST CARRY ALONE! Our video will instead demonstrate how ONE CAN STAND PROUD IN THEIR AUTHETNIC TRUTH, whatever that truth may be, UNSILENCED, UNABASHED, and most of all, GENUINLY and DESERVEDLY PROUD. Why PROUD: for despite your life circumstances, emotions and or your own mind trying to convince you, in some cases on a daily and for a lifelong basis, your submission, showcasing your face or playing your unique voice for the world to hear, is PROOF POSITIVE that you are STILL HERE, because each day, no matter how hard you get knocked down or how deep you must dig to find it, you continue to choose HOPE and LIFE each time-I personally can’t think of anything worth being more proud of and I promise you, your submission, let alone the compilation of dozens of such submissions has the power to give hope to some of our most at risk peers who LIGHT THIS WORLD SIMPLY CANNOT DO WITHOUT!


Why Participate:


The best part of this initiative is that it achieves so many amazing missions simultaneously: Whether you’re doing it to raise general mental health awareness, smash the stigma, and END THE SILENCE, whether you’re doing it to help educate and hopefully open-the minds and hearts of those currently perpetuating this crisis, whether you doing this for that at-risk peer that could easily be your best friend or someone else you care dearly about, or whether you’re DOING IT FOR YOU because you DESEREVE TO BE DAMN PROUD of the fact that your STILL FIGHTING, THE FIGHT, we sure hope to see your submission ASAP!


Leadership Team:


WE ARE PEERS and A TEAM, ALL PEER MENTAL HEALTH WARRIORS armed with passion and good intent, whatever your skills set are encouraged to reach out to join the leadership team of this initiative. ANYONE WITH BACKGROUND IN VIDEO/PHOTO/PRODUCTION/EDITING: even if the time you have to offer is limited due to other commitments, any editing/production time donated by a skilled or semi-experienced producer could help us put together a truly professional and powerful final product that could take this project to a whole other level, so please consider reaching out if this is your wheelhouse! But again, all skill sets will be valued and put to excellent use!


*Anonymous Submission:


*If you would prefer your submission not reveal your identity you can submit a piece of artwork that excludes, you’re an identifying feature such as your face or voice and your contribution will still be incredibly powerful by play its own unique role in conveying the message, especially the more creative you can be in your expression if the message. You can use any medium from hand drawn submissions to computer-rendered images or anything else you can think up (ultimately please submit the highest quality photo of the artwork as the final submission).


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Updated: Apr 6

Transgender Day of Visibility is a day for celebration. I made the below video as a celebratory montage to this occasion with the secondary purpose of hopefully starting a critical conversation about how we as peers (transgender individuals and cis-gender allies alike) can move the conversation forward and take action that will make future Transgender Days of Visibility occasions for even greater celebration because we will have done the work to make sure our transgender siblings are living in a safer world.


I must give a TRIGGER WARNING that the video ends with a devastating statistic: 42% of American youth who identify as trans have report having attempted suicide by the age of 19 according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Normally it would not seem appropriate to mention such things in the context of a celebration, but after watching an IG live put on by The Trevor Project, I heard how what one of the Transgender guests was celebrating this year was "existing." As a black trans woman, this individual discussed how given that she is literally taking her life in her hands each time she walks out the door, it is simply the fact that she is still breathing when she returns home each evening that is a celebration for her. This combined with the above statistic made me feel that a discussion, action, and change in this area is obviously so long overdue, and I felt it was my duty this Transgender Day of Visibility to start that conversation here and now! So please watch the video and then please read the questions below that have been designed to help provide a framework to start this critical conversation (however please of course feel free to venture outside these questions and take the discussion where it should and must go to make true, immediately and lasting change!


I would like to use this video to spark a two pronged discussion: For Tran-identifying members of this community please use this time and space to celebrate you amazing existence and tell us what you love about being trans. Conversely please feel free to share your fears or tell us how we can best serve you as allies. 2. To the cis-gender members of this community, I ask that you think of one way you can honor this holiday in a way that will somehow either personally touch a transgender individual in your life in a positive way and/or that will somehow address the above mentioned statistic: a suicide rate that makes trans youth the population officially most lethally impacted by suicide, already the #2 cause of youth 10-34YO. On a larger scale, besides this one day a year, how can we provide our trans brothers and sisters with the peer-support they need (which also includes advocacy and bigger picture work), to change the above mentioned, unthinkable statistic.

NO MORE SILENCE, NOT ON OUR WATCH.

Please comment below with your thoughts!


*I wish to acknowledge up-front that I am cis-gender and recognize my privilege and potential blind spots and apologize in advance if that privilege has blinded me to anything in this post that is anything but helpful & supportive of the transgender community, please comment if so so that I may learn and improve to be a better ally and advocate! Please watch and enjoy the video, which again is meant to be a celebration of transgender pride and visibility.


Here's How to Sign-Up (Video Demo) So You Can Join the Conversation:




In order to participate in any of the interactive aspects of the website (the blog or forum discussions, the special interest groups, or attending events to name a few) one must sign up as a member: this is different than committing to being part of Friends For Life which you can decide later and is entirely optional. Signing-up is 100% free, takes about 1-2 minutes , and for those concerned about privacy/anonymity, you can even change your username to something non-identifying to maintain your privacy (this means the only people who will have any access to information about you is two people: the owners of Friends For Life LLC, Emma Aders (aka Siri Khalsa) and Jaikar Beasley, who would only view/engage your sign-up info for the singular purpose of attempting prevent self-injury or suicide if an instance occurs wherein one of our members is in imminent danger. On the sign-up page there is a link to a detailed explanation as to why we ask for certain sign-up details, how we are ensuring your privacy and protecting your information. If you have any further questions about signing-up check out our FAQ section on the homepage and check out the below video wherein we walk you through the 1-2 minute sign-up process and demonstrate a few things that may ultimately may help you better understand why it's overdue time to spend the next minute or two creating your account so you can jump right in, hopefully with this conversation!





FAQs Regarding Our Website, Becoming a Member, & Privacy Concerns:



If you find yourself a little uncertain about whether or not to create an account because you have some lingering questions about how the site works, how and why it's worthwhile to sign-up as a member (a process that is 100% free, takes 1-2 minuets and allows you to remain anonymous if you so choose), how we protect your data and privacy and the integrity of this safe space, or anything else, please check out the below video that covers FAQs and if we don't cover your question, please send us any questions to info@ese.org!


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