In the past several weeks, I have experienced a monumental convergence of personal values, life purpose, and career mission that has placed me on an unexpected path of service that feels deeply familiar and relevant. I've made a resolute decision that fulfills my service as a campus chaplain and fills my soul as a committed spiritual counselor. I want to do everything necessary to prevent college student suicides on my campus and every campus I can reach. This is a new professional focus but not a new personal interest.
A year ago, Scout Schultz---a friend, someone's child, a beautiful human--was killed by an officer on the Georgia Tech campus. Was it death-by-cop? (The term used for a method of suicide where a person points a weapon at an armed police officer, forcing them to shoot.) Yes, I believe so. Does it matter how they died? No, it does not. What matters is that Scout was hurting inside. Scout was fighting a fight they felt they could not win. At the memorial service, I completely lost my composure. I knew Scout. I considered them one of my people. This simply wasn't fair. Their life wasn't finished yet. They still had so much good to do in the world, and yet, hopeless.
Little did I know that I would go on to assist in two more memorial services for students who committed suicide before the end of that year. I felt broken and powerless. I had a wave of emotions too jumbled to express. The one thing I felt deeply in my heart and repeated in my head: no more. No more suicides on my campus, if I can help it. No more hopelessness in the amazing and beautiful lives of the young people I serve. No more helplessness.
Fast-forward to Fall Semester 2018 and Georgia Tech was devastated by three more suicides. This time, these losses occurred within two weeks of one another. Something had to change and I decided it was going to be me. Over the course of the proceeding months, I came to realize that my reason for being on this earth is to do what is necessary to prevent suicides on college campuses. My background as a chaplain, teacher, counselor and speaker allow me to reach an audience of students who not only may need help, but also, teach students how to be a good friend to those experiencing an emotional health crisis and how to spot signs of suicidal behavior.
Welcome to my journey. In the weeks to come, you will see changes in my messaging. You will see my consulting business, ApproachPath, disappear as it is no longer relevant in my life's true purpose. You will hear about my teaching, public speaking, and full-on-life adventures. You will hear me speak up for those who cannot, calling attention to things that need to be addressed, and provide ways you can get involved in this effort we call suicide prevention.
God put me on a very different path these past months. It wasn't what I was expecting at all but I know with every part of my being that this is what I am supposed to do. It's a far cry from being an airline pilot. It's also a far cry from being a leadership coach....or is it?