During his toughest battles with substance abuse, Robert Clark didn’t think he would still be here today. “For many years I wanted nothing more than to end my life. I have been hospitalized and saved more times than I can count.” After years of suffering from depression, substance abuse, and suicidality, Robert decided to reach out for help. Today, with the encouragement of his mother, support group, sponsor, and larger community, Robert celebrates his four-year anniversary of sobriety.
He considers himself lucky. “Today, I get to live. Tomorrow too. But some aren’t as fortunate. As a person with the disease of substance addiction, I see suicide happen regularly in my community. I learned that unless I take action, I can’t be of service.” After losing a friend and co-worker to suicide, Robert decided to take that action two years ago and created a team for the annual Samaritans 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention.
Team One Dose Is Too Close raises awareness for the ways in which substance abuse, mental health issues, and suicidality are intertwined. “I think it’s the biggest struggle in my community. When you’re going through those battles, you need support. There’s so much isolation. So much stigma. So much disappointment. You need love. You need patience. You need to feel like you’re not less than. You need to feel like you matter. The feeling of being connected, loved, cared for, and acknowledged is what one wants when they lose hope within themselves. I think back to how close I was to losing not just my own life, but the love I never realized was there all along.”
He channeled those feelings during his first 5K. Robert and his mother arrived early and spent time at the commemorative ribbon wall where loss survivors honor their family and friends lost to suicide. “Just to see loved ones being recognized… it really made the day seem even more important.” After completing his first 5K, Robert felt “on a cloud. I had never done something like this before. There was just complete freedom and happiness. Joy, inside and out. And there wasn’t even good weather!”
Rain or shine, knowing he is helping others is one of his biggest motivators to participate each year. “Putting myself out there and opening my arms to anyone in need is so simple today, but not everyone has a community to call on when times are tough, so the services offered by the Samaritans are so vital.” Now in his third year of the 5K, Robert says, “It’s empowering. That’s what it is. It’s empowering. You can take action and make a difference.”