Remembering one runner whose life was tragically cut short.
There are certain topics I try to avoid as a writer — religion is a big one, as is politics. This week, I’ve felt compelled to write about another “icky” topic, but I’ve spent the last few days pushing it aside, trying to find lighter, funnier things to write about. Still, the urge to write has only grown stronger and louder, until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. It’s not funny, but it’s important, so pay attention.
This week, the running community lost one of its own to suicide.
Not a single person would have guessed that Brian was suicidal, or even depressed. He was a father, coach, and fixture in the Dallas running scene — and a seemingly happy and healthy one at that.
Those who knew him are experiencing profound levels of shock and sadness. They also have a lot of questions: Did they miss any signs that Brian was suicidal? Was there something that could have been done to prevent this from happening? Why didn’t he tell anyone? Didn’t he know he was loved?
Everyone seems to be in agreement that there needs to be a conversation about mental health. Yet when it comes time to actually discuss, we all look at each other anxiously, as if to say “No, I’ve got my shit together. You need to start the conversation with other people.”
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This is especially true for runners, who can feel pressured to portray a mental state in line with their physical health. But sometimes, there’s more than meets the eye. Just because you can’t see depression on someone doesn’t mean it isn’t there — like Brian, we often don’t know when someone is fighting a battle.
For that reason alone, I ask all of us to err on the side of compassion. Smile at strangers. Tell the new runner you’d be happy to show her your favorite trails. Avoid putting down others just to make yourself look better. Tell your friends and family you love them, loudly and often. Treat each person with respect. Talk. More importantly, listen. Be kind.
Or, as Brian would say, simply:
“Be good to each other.”
* If you need someone to talk to, or if you are in need of advice to help a friend or family member, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help. Whatever your circumstance, your life has value and you matter.
About The Author:
Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke