Sometimes great tragedy can bring about great good. Many people, like me, have experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one to suicide or overdose. But I believe that can be changed.
My hope in launching a new non-profit to the Cincinnati area, Project Fireflies, is to reduce suicide and overdose. This nonprofit outreach program was created to provide support to teens, young adults, and their families who are suffering from trauma.
The View After the Climb
Project Fireflies has been a dream of mine that started seven years ago when I lost my daughter to a drug overdose. Tragedies like this are not easy to endure, but it has made me aware of a need to raise awareness of the mental health impact that trauma can have in the lives of young people. It has inspired me to help others.
A Mission with a Vision
Ashlee had attended two rehabs during the years before her death. She was very proud of the fact that she had been clean for two years. The summer before she died, Ashlee had been living in New York for an internship in fashion design. Her dream was to have a career in the field of fashion. Unfortunately, while in New York she experienced a traumatic event which led her to use again. She died that same night. It was a horrible mistake that caused her to lose her life.
Project Fireflies’ goal is to reach out to at-risk teens and young adults before they start down a path that can eventually lead to tragedy. Our mission is to empower young people affected by trauma to move forward with strength and courage.
A Growing Need for Help
Suicide and overdose are problems that are becoming increasingly widespread. Here are some of the staggering statistics on drug use and suicide among young people:
- 50% of teens have misused a drug at least once in their lifetime.
- 43% of college students use illicit drugs.
- In 2018, 4,633 young people between the ages of 15 – 24 years old died of an overdose.
- Many parents state that they had no idea their child was using drugs until after they overdosed.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for 10-24-year-olds.
- In 2018, 6211 young people between the ages of 15-24 died from suicide.
- Combined, the number of young people between the ages of 15-24 who have died from suicide or overdose in 2018 could fill the entire Cintas Center at Xavier University!
These numbers are disturbing, and what is more alarming is that COVID-19 has caused the rate of suicide and overdose to rise. That’s why we’ve been even more passionate about moving forward with Project Fireflies and encouraging others to join us in making a difference.
Small Gestures that Make a Powerful Impact
Project Fireflies is everyday people finding everyday ways to help those in need of encouragement during difficult times. We believe that a supportive family and community can make a huge impact.
Some of the ways we help at-risk young people:
- Providing care packages with items that help them express their feelings
- Giving them resources to contact for support when they are feeling hopeless
- Organizing special events like a synchronized light show during the holidays
- Providing family experiences that allow for bonding and foster communication
- Financially supporting other non-profit organizations that are researching and treating addition and mental illness
How You Can Help
The first fundraiser for Project Fireflies will be a Halloween Bash at COhatch in Mason on October 24 from 7-10 pm. There will be live music, food, drinks, and a silent auction—all in a socially distanced indoor/outdoor space. Admission is free and you can register at our Eventbrite site, but space is limited to allow for distancing. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information!