Creating a YouTube channel focused on suicide prevention in character might be the strangest thing I’ve done in my 59 years of life. The subject is evergreen but it is not the happiest topic you ever want to hear. After being a gun rights activist for thirty years that has been podcasting since 2007, video was something I did randomly. I never had a specific goal as I do now with this new channel called Spoon Says. I am hoping to save a life.
Many of us may know of someone who died by suicide. Some of us may know someone personally or even have had thoughts about suicide ourselves. I’ve learned a lot about this subject and still learning. I’ve been in jobs where suicide rates are high, military, law enforcement and now even the clergy. Without knowing the exact number, I believe;
One Suicide is Too Many.
So that is my mantra. In reality, there is no single solution to suicide prevention. The factors that influence suicide behaviors are complex and interrelated. Reaching out and building connections is an important way to reduce the risk of suicide. When I remembered what social media is good for, creating a channel to encourage engagement, share information and build relationships was a no-brainer.
Kenn Blanchard Show Podcast episode about Suicide
Why the guitar?
Many years ago I was traveling for work and new I would be spending long hours alone, so I bought a guitar with me to practice with. I had books, and videos. As I moved through the airport, I noticed how the guitar softened my profile. Somehow, with an instrument I wasn’t as threatening to some people as I had been. As someone that has been profiled, followed, harassed, and treated like a criminal on sight I noticed how that didn’t happen this time. I didn’t succeed in my guitar playing on that trip but I did take notice of how it felt having it.
Since the pandemic I had been teleworking for the first time in my life. I put in the time to practice and get familiar with the guitar again and now it is “clicking” for me. There is a joy in playing that I appreciate now. I love the challenge of trying to figure out how a lick was done by a guitar master. The more you learn, the more you understand how far you still have to go. That part is daunting. I’d like to be able to play in front of a large crowd with my very own blues band.
Music is universal as is the human condition. Depression, and mental illness can affect anyone. I am creating the Spoon persona, to be the advocate for the law enforcement officer, the military veteran, the first responder, the parent and maybe even someone you know that is going through a tough time. Spoon is a burgeoning blues guitarist. As he plays, he also shares inspiration, encouragement and reminders about living.
Being in character allows me to be direct and talk openly and matter-of-factly about a dark subject, like suicide. The stereotypical blues man is worldly, and usually nonjudgmental. I want to use this to allow folks to be let me listen, express and accept their feelings. I hope that Spoon with offer hope that alternatives are available. And through this infotainment share about persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
There are organizations that I plan to help with like The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. They’re committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness. Lifeline (suicidepreventionlifeline.org)
Digital communities and social media platforms provide important vehicles to express ourselves, find information, and communicate with one another. This is also true for individuals in distress who are potentially suicidal. Too often their posts go unnoticed or not responded to.
I remember reading a Facebook post from a friend a few hours before he killed himself. I never saw it coming. It affected me for months. While I want to be a great guitarist, I’d rather be a great human being and be there for the one person that follows Spoon.
In May 2021, my wife had a brain tumor removed. She lost the ability to talk, walk, and eat. She was bed ridden and developed bed sores. Here limbs contracted and atrophied. Over the past year, she has had life threatening illnesses. She caught pneumonia twice. She had two blood clots that were treated. She caught a fungal meningitis that was stubborn and took months to go away. My life changed.
Friends and family looked at me but I don’t think they saw me. I got the cards, and the dinners the first two months. I received the gifs, obligatory Bible verses, and YouTube video suggestions. 99% don’t know what to say or do for you. I was in a perpetual state of grief. No month was the same. No issue was the same. I stared into what felt like the Abyss. I stood in my living room as the little beach ball in my head spun around and around like a bad software program. I didn’t know what I needed, wanted or should be doing. I lost track of time.
I understood how we miss the signals that a person is in crisis. My wife is still recovering. It has been a roller coaster ride that isn’t over. I hate the uncertainty of everything. I hate how my conversations with doctors have been rare. Any information I get is from nurses and those that have experience in similar circumstances. Like I find joy in playing the guitar, I find joy in the prospect of helping another person not quit.
“The only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending that you’re not.”
Spoon understands and wants to help. If you want to help, please subscribe to this channel and help me get 100 subscribers so I can unlock some of the features that YouTube provides for creators.
Check out these podcast: Black Man With A Gun Show , Speak Life church , and Indian Motorcycle radio The Books, Kenn has written.