Last November, a bright, athletic, popular 14-year-old girl, the daughter of a former NHL player, took her own life. Nobody had suspected anything was wrong, there was no indication, no hint that Daron Richardson was anything other than happy and well-adjusted.
And yet, on a cold Wednesday morning last fall, over 5,000 people found themselves gathered in a hockey rink, carrying out the unthinkable task of saying goodbye to her forever.
Today, Daron’s family took their grief and turned it in to action. At a press conference today, Luke Richardson said that from now on, February 8 – Daron’s birthday – will mark the beginning of an annual fundraising drive to support efforts in identifying and supporting suicidal teens.
“At that very tragic time in November, we made the decision to speak publicly about suicide because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of others,”Richardson said, speaking publicly for the first time since Daron’s death. “We are a close family. We spend a lot of time together. We talk about a lot of things; sex, drugs, alcohol, bullying and the Internet. But there was one conversation we never had. Mental health. Suicide. We hope and pray that you have that conversation yourself, or with a friend or family member.”
The Do It For Daron (D.I.F.D.) Campaign will begin with a Purple Pledge Day, where teens will be encouraged to give a financial donation as well as wearing purple on February 8 to show their support.
The Ottawa Senators will also hold an annual D.I.F.D. Youth Mental Health Awareness Night at their home arena. Funds raised will be donated to the Royal Ottawa Hospital’s program for early identification and intervention for youth at risk.
With suicide the second leading cause of death in youth, after accidents, this initiative will help identify kids who might be thinking about suicide. The aim is to save those kids, and to prevent any more parents from suffering the same loss as the Richardsons have.
The Richardson family is to be commended for being brave enough to share their story with the world in the hopes of getting the word out, so that hopefully, another child does not have to do what Daron did.
Photo credit: LionSuit on Flickr