Students and staff share hope for suicide prevention through personal letters

Starting in 2016, Julie Lehman, campus counselor, began offering t shirts to participants and supporters of suicide prevention week.

By Kendra Burkey – Horizon Advisor

Students who participated in suicide prevention events last September received a reminder of their contribution last week: A custom t-shirt from Julie Lehman, Hesston’s campus counselor proclaiming “every day a new day.”

Lehman started designing and distributing the t-shirts four years ago, the same time she started asking students, faculty and staff to share their stories surrounding suicide in the form of a writing exercise.

Last month’s events included a gathering at the prayer labyrinth. Lehman asked participants to share “stories surrounding hope in difficulty, resilience, and how they navigated dark times.” Four shared their stories, “Letters to Myself at a Hard Time,” with the Horizon.

Dear me,

Things are rough.  Your body is tired.  Soul is a wreck. Listen to the voices telling you you’re not good enough.

Listen to the deepest thoughts that popped up while you’re laying on your bed.

Listen to what you’re grateful for today.

Listen to what makes you smile silently.

Listen to your annoying alarm sound just to be more annoyed.

Listen to your “pouring rain”, but also listen to your small “smile moments.”

It’s okay to be sad, but it’s not okay to be sad alone.

It’s note okay to be sad for a long time, but take your time.

I promise you things are going to be okay pretty soon.

I just need you to hang on through the storms.


and hate,

and love you.


Hi Cory,

Man, you have been through a lot since you though everything was impossible.  You have learned to get out of bed when you need to, even when it is hard. You have found those people who stay with you through good and bad.  You have learned to put your own self-care first, so you can be better to your family. Right now, take that one step to find happiness. When life seems impossible, put on that “Stand in the Rain.”  Cry your eyes out, and then keep going. I won’t say things will get easier, but you will find so many things worth sticking around for.

You are so loved!

Dear one,

You can’t see it now, but you will feel joy again.  You can’t see how the clouds will lift and you’ll find yourself again.  It’s okay if you can’t laugh right now, can’t sing or create or be there for your friends because there is nothing inside to give from.  You’ll laugh again. What you can’t see now is that you will find strength in love; and hope – at first just tiny glimmers, then full moments, then the ability to dream again.  You won’t be able to predict or plan for it. But trust me – it will be there. Keep going.

You have no idea how loved you are.


Dear me,

It was 5 a.m. and you were exhausted from four days of working 8-5, driving 45 minutes to sleep in a hospital recliner beside your dying mom and leaving at daybreak to drive home and do it all again.  You saw the headlights of the oncoming 18-wheeler. How easy to drift across the yellow line and have it be over in a flash with a crash. You gave the steering wheel a slight left angle – tires getting closer, then over the yellow line.  You were being selfish then; not thinking of your mom who would be left with no one, or your loyal, trusting dog asleep beside you. He would surely die too. With both front tires over the line, the rig flashes its lights and gives a long blast of its horn.  Startled, you swerve back into your lane and arrive home safely. The next night you don’t visit the hospital, but stay home and sleep 14 hours straight. You wake up your usual cheery, positive self, ready to face all life’s challenges. The next year you bury your mom – and two years after that, your dog.  But it’s been 22 years since that night when 90 sad seconds could have tragically ended everything. In that time you’ve become a wife, mother and grandmother, had 3 rewarding jobs, made friends, taken trips and truly loved your life. Things looked grim that night. Hopeless was not too strong a word for how you felt.  But today I’m so glad the rig honked and flashed its lights; so glad you swerved back into your lane. The life you have now is so much more valuable than the 90 seconds of gloom on that night. If you ever feel that way again, please Wait, Rest & Pray. Things will look different in the morning after a good night’s sleep.


Carlota M. Ponds


dear self life may have hit you with the weight of a hundred cinder blocks you may feel lost you may want to curl into a ball and fall asleep and never wake up it may feel easier to just swim down but remember you didn’t cause it you can’t control it you can’t cure it 

and that is okay 

you need love you need space and you need time 

there are places to go and people to see 

you have a life 

you have life 

you can love are love and are loved 

your father and your mother and god the father and god the mother and your brothers and sisters in blood and brothers and sisters in Christ and brothers and sisters in humanity they love you they all love you and you love them 


in the moment it feels like hope is beyond your reach and that weight is too much to bear but take your time and the sun will come 

with love, alexander william harry mcgrath miller

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