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Project Jeb is designed to raise awareness about the male suicide issue. No politics, just designs folks can print off and post in their community to help raise awareness about male suicides.
The reason why I called it Project Jeb was because I did my first male suicide awareness walk with my dog, Jeb. The walk was him and I walking about 75 miles posting stickers up letting men know they matter. Some time later a man informed me one of those stickers caused him to reconsider his choice to become a male suicide statistic.
Jeb was at my side for that whole first walk, he helped save a life.
Jeb was truly man's best friend.
He was a Jeb-i Warrior raising awareness.
And with that I ask you to become a Jeb-i Warrior, help carry on Jeb's work and raise awareness about male suicides.
Become a force for good.
Jeb was family and my wingman. Yesterday he died, in my arms, even though I tried to resuscitate him. He was my dog and together we created some of our proudest moments and together we weathered some of my dark times. I say my dark times for Jeb rarely seemed sad, his tail always wagging barely a growl or bark ever. He was a Jeb-i warrior, his force; bringing smiles to even the darkest of days. You could always count on him to be at the ready with his light-saver smiles to brighten the darkest days.
His end, as far as I could tell, was peaceful and mercifully quick. He was laying down on the floor it looked like he was dreaming as he let out with some little yelps and his paws kicked a bit like he was chasing yet another squirrel as he had done 1000’s of time before. I was puttering about looking for things to auction off as fundraising towards this years male suicide awareness walk to Toronto (and about 5 cities in between). The same walk we did last year but because of a major announcement we decided to do it later than the original. If it wasn’t for the major announcement that Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was going to walk in Toronto’s Pride parade we would have done the walk around the first or second week of May. Right around the anniversary of my brother Anthony’s & Earl Silverman’s suicides.
It was last years walk that gave Jeb and I those proud and dark times together. The proud times were earning acknowledgement and respect from not only those who serve and protect but also the professional mental health community as well. These are all fine things to be proud of for a former blue collar worker and his pooch. But that’s not what I considered to be our finest moment. Our finest moment we would learn of months after the walk when it was discovered that 1 of the suicide awareness stickers Jeb and I posted played a part in a man reconsidering his participation in the statistics of male suicides.
There were lots of dark times on that walk. They were at the end of the day when I was processing what Jeb & I were doing and the various stories from the people we had interacted with. There are a lot of people out there who have lost loved ones to suicide and for the most part they aint afraid to talk. You’ll also hear what drives people to seriously contemplate suicide. Parental alienation was one I heard, there were others, loss of house, job, a lack of help for any one of the issues men face as they become adults in life. Things that if the sexes were reversed there would be plenty of attention paid to and gobs of government/ private money thrown at.
Jeb was also welcome at the shop of one of the sponsors from last year (health code violations for Jeb to be in stores that sell food, he was liked by the owners and staff at many local shops), the local vape shop. Matt and Coco are an incredible young couple who are entrepreneurs employing about a 1/2 dozen folks. Jeb and I would stop in for some vape juice, have a coffee and chat about odds and sods. Jeb-i warrior would use his force to elicit smiles from other customers as the furry Walmart greeter.
Matt walked part of those miles with the Jeb-i warrior and I last year. I had to stop in their shop yesterday, It was around 1pm. One of the 2 working employees came right out from behind the counter and gave me a hug as my phone was ringing, a call I kind of had to take, it was a condolences call and it came as I was getting out of a another call before that. Toxic masculinity at play here meant that I was grateful for the compassion and empathy. But I was rushed, dark skies were coming, phone calls too and I had not buried Jeb yet. I also knew that they had a business to run and as much as I know they wouldn’t mind mourning Jeb, reality demanded I move forward and give Jeb a proper resting place.
I had to leave faster than I wanted to and called Coco later on that night to explain why. Some of it was tied to print deadlines for the suicide awareness walk, the other was tied to the weather and the digging area.
I suppose I could have at that point in the day crawled into a safe space or gotten catatonic on tonic & some mind numbing elixir, but booze is not really a cure for reality. And the reality of the situation was digging around here involves a lot of moving rocks along with dirt. There was a fair bit of work to be done before I could rest and I had been up since the day before. Taking Jeb on his final walk to his resting place was not something I would ask of someone else nor would I leave it to someone else. He was my wingman, family. It was my responsibility to make sure everything was done right.
He & I spent many days and covered many miles engaging some of our very finest activism as men’s human rights advocates, and weathering the dark times that both life and advocacy work could throw at me.
There were other calls that came in last night. Half way across the country one of them. Another from Justin Trottier, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Men and Families CEO, Canadian Association for Equality. The expressions of condolences on the passing of Jeb made the seemingly unbearable situation bearable and were greatly appreciated.
Yesterday I thought I buried my wingman, family, my dog Jeb. But, today as I go through a cathartic process of thinking about the time I got to share with Jeb I realized I was wrong.
Yesterday I buried a Jeb-i warrior.