The Andrew Miedema Foundation Golf Tournament
I call them The Group of 7; Jay Humphrey, Shane Powell, Justin Buset, Rob Menei, Mitch Komar, Kyle Paterson and Cole Patterson. These are Andrew Miedema’s best friends.
Here is the CBC Radio interview with Shane, myself and Lisa Laco; http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1301091907778
Each of these men has an incredible, vulnerable and authentic story of their own of loss to suicide. Collectively, with their unique and ever so diverse personalities, they give me such hope. Hope that things can be different for themselves, other men and a conscious need to understand masculinity.
They were instinctively driven by the immense love of their friend Andrew and their need to “do something” so that no other group of friends or family will have to suffer the pain of such a loss of a dear friend and loved one to suicide. Through some incredible conversations, their willingness to get vulnerable, get gritty and tear things apart, they now see part of their goals as creating an environment where shame, stigma and judgement are no longer barriers for men to say, ‘please help’. Each one of these guys knows full well that it’s not about changing others but rather changing themselves.
Suicide prevention is not necessarily about saving lives, it’s about helping people feel that their lives are worth living. Ultimately, we can only save ourselves.
This group of 7 is making a measurable difference in peoples’ lives in our community. They are also hosting a golf tournament today to remember their friend Andrew, raise money for Canadian Mental Health Association and to create much needed conversations on suicide. Their success is immense in all three areas.
Here’s a follow up from the golf tournament. Besides being sold out months earlier and having loads of amazing prizes, The Group of 7 Guys got 59 people to register for SafeTALK and each persons fees will be paid by the funds raised at the golf tournament. They also gave a donation of $10,313.75 to the Thunder Bay branch of the Canadian Mental Health Organization. It was an incredible day of healing, conversations and smashing stigma. Please read their thank you letter below.
Not talking about it isn’t working. Join us as we begin the dialogue.
The following is a thank you note from The Group of 7…
Thank You from the Andrew Miedema Foundation
Thank you to everyone who participated in and donated to the First Annual Andrew Miedema Foundation Golf Tournament this past weekend! Special thanks goes out to our sponsors and our host, Dragon Hills Golf Club. Thanks as well to Scott Chisholm (leftbehindbysuicide.org) who gave us the help we needed to start healing ourselves, and the tools that allow us to encourage others to watch for the warning signs of suicide. The tournament was a tremendous success – a fitting, if bittersweet, way to celebrate the life of our friend, Andrew Miedema.
Andrew died by suicide on March 7, 2018. We are still trying to come to terms with the questions, the stigma, and yes, the guilt. The one big question that will never be answered is, Why? Andrew seemed fine – not even fine, great! He was in the playoffs and renovating a house and organizing a hockey trip. He was making plans. We didn’t even know he was suffering from depression. We thought that there would be obvious signs. We were wrong.
How many other family members and friends have to go through what we are going through? We decided that we want to do everything we can to help others recognize the signs. Most importantly, we want to give courage to those who need help to ask for it. We used some of the money raised from the tournament to pay for SafeTALK sessions through the NorWest Community Health Centres. The half-day course is sort of like CPR training for suicide prevention. We are thrilled to report that 59 people have signed up. The remaining funds, which amount to $10,313.75, will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association to help raise awareness about suicide.
Men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. There is no singular cause for suicide, but men’s perception of their masculinity is a contributing factor. We feel like we need to look strong, even when we’re suffering. But we wish more than anything that Andrew would have said something to us, or to anyone else for that matter. Your buddy would have your back going into a fight – why wouldn’t he have it to save your life?
Don’t worry about being a tough dude. Get help. Talk to your friends. Talk to a family member. Or talk to a confidential help line like Crisis Services Canada 1-833-456-4566 (www.crisisservicescanada.ca). You can also learn more about the Thunder Bay-based Collateral Damage Project at leftbehindbysuicide.org.
Every day we wish Andrew had reached out to someone. Please, if you need help, ask for it. It’s scary, but your family and friends will love you for it.
Shane Powell, Justin Buset, Kyle Patterson, Rob Menei, Jay Humphrey, Mitch Komar, Cole Patterson