This week on Mind Tap, Scott joins inspirational suicide awareness advocate, Daniel Hurd, as he cycles the Pocatello leg of his journey. Daniel Hurd, who is a suicide survivor, is bicycling the lower 48 US states towing a small black camper that he uses to sleep in. Dan and Scott discuss his epic journey, important mental health topics, and ultimately explore the topic of suicide.
Perhaps one of the most taboo of all mental health topics is suicide, the act of taking one’s own life. So far, in the Mind Tap series, we have discussed some of the risk factors for suicide, including depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. As a society, we do not like talking about suicide. However, a recent study published in the New England Journal of medicine, reported that throughout the world, approximately 800,000 people die by suicide every year. This accounts for 1.5% of all deaths. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in North America and the foremost cause of death worldwide among persons 15 to 24 years of age.
We have to address this issue. Fortunately, for all of us, there are some remarkable individuals out there, kick starting the conversation around suicide.
Daniel Hurd’s inspiring story is one of bravery, selflessness and commitment. Dan is bicycling the lower 48 US states for suicide awareness. He has been on the road for 2.5 years, rode 16500 miles and Idaho is state number 42. I began by asking Dan what started his epic bicycle journey across the US.
“So I attempted suicide three times and was planning a fourth when a friend got me on a bike after many years of trying. It changed my life.”
Dan’s journey is fascinating because its combines a mental stimulus with a physical challenge and a noble cause. I asked Dan how the goal of his journey have shifted over the past two years.
“When I started it was just like oh I’m telling people that this is for suicide awareness. But what happened was, I got more comfortable telling my story, which is what I want other people to do. The more I was comfortable talking about my story; I truly believe more people were inspired by it and got involved with this. People need to understand there are more options out there than taking your own life”.
Arguably, one of the biggest hurdles to addressing mental health challenges is that many people are afraid of talking about the issue. So, I asked Dan what advice we would give to regular people who may be concerned about friends or family.
“So the people that know people that are struggling, it’s important to be involve and willing to listen. A lot of us are so busy, or afraid to listen to other people’s problems, because we don’t know how to fix them. Be willing to listen, we can’t fix people’s problems all the time, but we can be an ear to listen, and do it judgement free. That’s what people need”.
When I first met Dan, what was striking was that he was towing a black camper heavily decaled with suicide awareness messages. He told me that towing the camper, which he has been sleeping in, across the US has helped him balance his mental and physical well-being, not to mention shed some 130lbs excess pounds.
“So many people just focus on their physical or their mental health, but you need a balance, a healthy balance”.
However, the unusual appearance of Dan’s camper has had some unexpected consequences.
“So many people thing that the camper looks like a coffin. To start with, I was like ah, I don’t want it to be that, but now I say yeah, it’s a coffin and it’s full of all the people we have lost to suicide. I carry them around with me. That’s why I keep going these days, all of the people I have interacted with. For instance, I have done 79 suicide interventions of this trip and those interventions is what keeps me going because I never know who I’m going to meet on this journey, who might be struggling, or who might see my crazy camper and be like yo man what are you doing”.
Dan is more than a full time advocate for suicide awareness, he lives it. Right after I rode with Dan, he was off to ride with fellow military veterans to discuss how to cope with PTSD. When I asked him how he stayed so motivated for years, he told me it what one pedal at a time. That phrase become the name of his non-profit organization.
The one pedal at a time movement is online at OPAATmovement.com. On the website you can find out more about Dan, track his progress on across the country, find key resources for those struggling with mental health, and find out how to donate and get involved.
My bicycle ride alongside Dan was inspiring. His story shows that although suicide can happen to anybody, it does not have to be the answer for those suffering with their mental health and that suicide survivors can go on to achieve fantastic things. I’d like to say thanks very much to Daniel Hurd, both for the inspiring work he’s doing, a for letting me share the road with him. Once again, I’d encourage everyone to visit the one pedal at a time movement website at OPAAT movement.com.
Join me for Mind Tap next Friday morning at 7,35am where we investigate what it’s like to be a Student During the Covid-19 Pandemic.