What is Try to Matter?
Welcome to Trytomatter.com. I am so glad you have found us! It has been a few years since I have blogged here so I thought it might be useful for me to introduce myself and my vision. My name is Shannon. I created this website shortly after my older brother Matt died by suicide at the young age of 41. I was 38 at the time and had three young boys. His death upended my life and changed everything about order that I had known to be true in the world. It was my first experience with tragedy. I struggled mightily those first few years trying to make sense of what had happened and trying to help my parents cope through the incredibly painful out-of-order loss of a child. I had a hard a hard time knowing if joy would ever find me again. So, I did what I knew best and threw myself into trying to make a difference. That’s where the name come from - Try to Matter. I felt I had to make something good come out of the worst thing that had ever happened to me. It’s also a play on my brother’s name Matt.
Shortly after Matt’s death, I joined the board of the Virginia chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). I started and ran a large golf tournament to raise funds for this epidemic. I participated in a walk for survivors in Virginia Beach and Richmond. I could not believe how many thousands of people were walking in solidarity. How so many people had been affected. We were all members in a club that we didn’t want to belong. Connection was key and I felt understood. I also got involved in fundraising for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). It felt liberating to give back and to spread a message of hope to people who found it so hard to survive this unimaginable type of loss. I wanted to reduce the stigma as well. My brother’s death, due to his career, was front page news and we grieved in public. I wanted people to know if was okay to talk about mental illness and suicide. I spoke at a mental health event at my church. It was the first time I had publicly told my brother’s story and I could feel it impacting the people in the audience. I met other speakers that day whose families had been affected by suicide and there was instant camaraderie in sharing our pain and our hopes for the future.
My favorite part of advocating was a trip I took with my AFSP colleagues to Capitol Hill. We were there to tell members of Congress about different bills coming up to promote mental health. A highlight was meeting Patrick Kennedy. It was very empowering to feel like our voices were being heard and that we could make positive changes for people with mental health issues.
Fast forward a few years and I took a break. It was all a bit heavy and I needed to focus on myself and my family. I had to work through delayed grief and was so lucky to do a lot of intensive therapy that brought me around to the other side. My hope here at Trytomatter.com is that you will find resources on mental illness, wellness and suicide prevention. Whether you are here because you have mental health challenges or you have a family member struggling, I hope you find resources that can enrich your life. If you are here because you are a survivor of a suicide loss, I am sorry but know you are not alone. I hope this site fills you with hope. Healing and grieving are lifelong but know you will laugh again. My way forward has been through helping others and trying to make a difference. I hope I have.