Yesterday, on a sunny, clear-skied afternoon, a member of our Wolfpack family took a step that ended his life. Joseph Alexander Banks, or “Joey,” trekked up to the tall balconies of Dabney Hall and fell nine stories to his ultimate demise.
Today I sat in a private memorial. On a swing outside of Dabney, I looked to the roof, closed my eyes and said a prayer.
For him and for everyone whose existence was ended so violently.
For everyone who has looked or will look up to the rooftops wishing they, too, could take the leap.
For everyone whose voice has been stolen, the stigma around mental illness binding them in silence.
For everyone who has fallen or will fall victim to the darkness.
For everyone who slipped through the cracks, pushed aside until it was too late.
For everyone who envied the dead, feeling the wait for the end was far too long.
For everyone whose soul was so heavy, they could not feel the warm sun and cool breeze on their skin.
For everyone out there who feels they are past the point of saving — too far gone.
For a suffocating brokenness. For a fallen word.
People like Joey are not as rare as some may like to believe. They are all around us…in our classes, in our streets…perhaps even in the mirror…
The difference between Joey and I is one small step.
One step from the top to the bottom.
One step from life to death.
One final goodbye.
Just one small step.
One small step can end a life…but not all hope is lost. One small step can save a life, too.
A smile. A conversation. A kind heart. An open mind.
Will you be that one small step for someone?
Reach out. Be a friend. Love your neighbor. Step outside of your comfort zone. Stop the stigma.
Take the time to help someone take a step back from the ledge — I dare you.