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  • Writer's pictureMallory Fuller

Drew Garcia: Life after Loss

Hi, my name is Drew Garcia. I’d like to start by thanking Mallory for this opportunity and for choosing such a worthy cause to advocate. Her efforts through the platform she's worked hard to attain have inspired me to share my own perspective on suicide, the prevention of it, the wake it leaves behind, and what it's taken me to move forward.

In August 2013 my life wasn’t all that different than it had been before then. Class and football were on the horizon, but I was still playing Xbox with my buddies instead of being productive. I'd neglected my summer schoolwork, but I was still ready to get my sophomore year of high school going. About a week into the end-of-summer ritual called “2 a Days”, all of that changed. After spending a day at practice and hanging out with him, I woke up to the news that my best friend, Jonny, had committed suicide.

At the risk of sounding cliché, Jonny was a great guy. His sudden passing truly changed the trajectory of my life. Immediately after, I noticed some not-so-great changes. Particularly my grades started to slip. I found it hard to enjoy the things I was a part of, because I did so much with my friend. I let my mental and physical health slip away. It sucked, and continued to suck, for a long time.

On April 28th, 2015, I was invited by Jonny’s family to join them at the Texas Capitol. They had been working hard with state lawmakers to write a suicide prevention bill in honor of Jonny, and it was time for testimony during the legislative session. Although I was originally only there to experience the senate committee, I ended up testifying at the end of the day. After the testimony and a few months of politicking, the bill’s language was hammered out and signed into law. It was a massive step for me coming to terms with what happened, but not a cure-all.

Since Jonny’s death, I have struggled with many things: depression, complacency, anger issues, weight, making friends, and finding healthy outlets for myself. High school was especially bad for all of these, because of how much was just a constant reminder of the traumatic event. Getting out of my hometown and going to college was the best thing for me. It helped me realize that there were things holding me back, preventing forward progress.

My time at Baylor served as a massive catalyst for betterment. Don’t get me wrong, all of my issues with depression, weight, complacency, and making meaningful friendships still exist. I don’t think they’ll ever truly go away. But, I have an outlet for them now. I got involved with clubs, organizations, and became close to a small group of people. I’ve discussed my struggles at length with a few of my friends, and I reach out for help when I feel it’s necessary. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m beginning to understand the lessons I learned from Jonny’s passing, high school, college, and life in general.

Ultimately, there’s no moving on from the loss of a loved one to suicide. It changes your worldview. Maybe it’ll make you cold, distant, and angry. Maybe it’ll force you to turn to unhealthy habits. If you compartmentalize it, or any traumatic experience for that matter, you can never grow as a person. That’s why you move forward, closing one chapter and forging the path for new ones. It’s perfectly fine to look back, to reminisce, and to learn from these things… but I have found that living in or trying to outright forget the past sets me up for disaster. I implore those who read this, if you only take away one thing from me, let it be this: communicate your struggles and accomplishments with your friends, family, and most importantly, yourself. That is the key to moving forward and not letting the hard times rule over you. I promise that there is a lot of love and a lot of understanding, don’t be afraid to talk to those you trust.

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