On May 13, 2007 Dominique Blakely died by suicide. She was 19. Tragically, she is one among many. Suicide is now the second major cause of death among high school and college students. It is the second major cause of death for women aged 22-44 and the fourth major cause of death for men in the same group. With close to one million suicides a year worldwide and several hundred million people suffering from serious depression at any one time, depression and suicide are now recognized as major global health problems. The insidious and universal nature of mental illness makes this disease as serious as other life threatening illnesses.
Dominique was a giver. She intuitively connected with the suffering of other people and was always willing to give of herself in order to help them confront their issues. She was outspoken and up front about her own depression and eating disorder. She believed that sharing her experiences in a public way was important. As a fitting tribute to her, a non-profit fund has been established in her name, so that Dominique’s spirit can continue to help others who suffer.
There is so much we that needs to be done. Dominique’s bracelets will help do that. The bracelet was designed to benefit Dominique’s Fund for Suicide Prevention. We want to tell the world to pay more attention to suicide, and therefore mental illness. These bracelets honor the memory of those who have taken their own lives. It is our goal to have masses of people prominently sporting the bracelets on their wrists, to eradicate the stigma and make it ok to talk about depression and suicide.
About the bracelet design---it is similar to a silver one that Dominique loved to wear. It is aluminum and etched with a four-stranded French braid. Dominique loved her French heritage. She often asked her mother to weave her long hair into the braid. Eventually she was able to French braid her hair in less than 30 seconds; as fast as it took any other girl to put her hair in a ponytail! The bracelet is inscribed with Dominique’s Fund. There are two lengths to accommodate different wrist sizes. Most of all, the braid is a symbol of the way in which we need to intertwine the strands of our Hearts, our Efforts, our Learning, and our Promise—our HELP—to show the compassion for those who need us—those who suffer in silence.