By Allyn Lewis
I frequently advocate the quote, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Time and time again, I find that this is always true. Even the people we look at as being strong, powerful, and put together – they have and are going through their own battles too. In my 23 years of life, I’ve learned that the key to living and succeeding, in any area, is taking your own struggles and finding a way to turn them into strength.
Which leads me to the story of my own strains and how I’ve found my own strength. My name is Allyn Lewis and I am a model, socialite, entrepreneur and suicide survivor.
On November 20th, 2008 I walked in the front door after school, and five years later I can still hear the words from mom stinging in my ears, ‘They found your dad.”
People say that it gets better as time goes on when you lose someone, but when you lose someone to suicide, it does not work that way. After unexpectedly losing my father to suicide, I spent years of coping and dealing with the pain and confusion. The minutes, hours, days, weeks and years following his death have brought me immense amounts of pain, depression and intense anxiety over losing anyone else close to me.
The matter of suicide is delicate and difficult to discuss and thus, it has come time for me to share my story. La Nuit Noire, translating to The Dark Night, is a platform I created to raise suicide awareness and prevention. While nothing will ever fix the loss of my dad, I am now at a point in my life where I am ready to open up about my story and can use such a disheartening event to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
It is with La Nuit Noire that I hope to provide an organization of support to those currently suffering from the loss that suicide creates, and to provide the public with the drive to share resources and education for suicide prevention.
Awareness on suicide is limited as the subject is often avoided and hushed rather than discussed in an effort to prevent it. These societal taboos create major barriers to delivering the care and support needed for individuals in a crisis and those affected after a suicide. Each suicide emotionally affects at least six ‘suicide survivors,’ identified as family members and friends of a loved one who died by suicide. Despite the statistical data, a major issue is the lack of understanding, and attempt to understand, why these lives are being lost.
It is not easy for anyone to open up on the topic of suicide, but I am. I believe that it needs to be discussed so that people understand this is a disease just as any other. We have galas, fashion shows and fundraisers for cancer, heart disease and a million other things. It’s time for an elegant event to be held to stop suicide. This is a cause that can be directly impacted just by spreading education and awareness.
Standing to be true, you never know what someone is going through and we can each make an impact in sharing the awareness of self-worth. Though my effort, I have designed La Nuit Noire, to shed light, bring hope, and provide support.
The first La Nuit Noire effort took place as formal ball held in Pittsburgh, PA on January 25, 2014 to inspire fellow suicide survivors, pay tribute to the memory of the loved ones lost and raise awareness in their honor. All proceeds in my efforts have gone to benefit The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. For involvement opportunities visit: www.lanuitnoire.org
Allyn Lewis is a 23-year-old Entrepreneur, Model, Socialite, Public Relations Specialist and Suicide Survivor from Pittsburgh. A University of Pittsburgh graduate, she is a partner and owner with Pretty Living PR, a PR firm specializing in fashion, beauty, lifestyle and events and is also the founder of La Nuit Noire an effort to raise suicide awareness. You can follow her on Twitter, and La Nuit Noir on Twitter.
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