I love it when I read stories about local people making a difference. Amy Wolff of Newberg, Oregon, is one of them. A few summers ago Amy was deeply troubled and saddened by six teenagers in an Oregon district that had died in a one-year period, and another six had recently attempted suicide in a span of two weeks. Amy had two young daughters at the time and was keenly aware of the tragedy of suicide because her own brother had taken his life at 14.
Amy was overcome with a deep desire to do something that could make a difference. She wanted to be able to help others. She printed up 20 signs with the slogans, “Don’t’ Give Up,” “You Are Worthy of Love” and “Your Mistakes Don’t Define You.” She randomly knocked on doors in her Newberg neighborhood to ask people if she could place her signs in their yards. Everyone said yes.
Don’t Give Up Signs is now a non-profit and has distributed signs in all 50 states and 26 countries in six different languages.
Although the messages might seem overly simplistic, they have an impact. Last year Amy received an anonymous letter from a man in Salem, Oregon, who had suffered from depression for seven years and had been contemplating taking his life. On his way home from picking up a pizza for his family, he decided to take a different road and he came across a “Don’t Give Up” sign. It moved him so much he pulled over and started weeping. Then he drove home and told his family about how he’d been suffering.
Amy has found a lot of purpose in these signs. “I feel like I’m once again that 14-year old girl who said, ‘I have to make my life matter.’ Of all the things I’ve done, this one really matters.”
Recently in CHRO, we were asked to take a Suicide Prevention training. I wasn’t aware of the statistics and I learned some helpful tools for reaching out and listening to someone who is struggling or depressed. I never know who reads these blogs. If anyone is struggling and needs to hear this message, please know that you matter. Don’t give up, you are not alone. If you’d like to reach out, I’m here to listen.