Someone You Should Know: Choosing hope and advocating for suicide prevention
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A career woman, loving mother, and strong advocate for suicide prevention, Angela Drake chooses hope. Since the passing of her daughter, Brittany, she has been a crusader for mental health.
“With Brittany, we fought a very long battle with mental health. I was that big-mouth mama all the way through it and was fighting for anything and everything that she needed,” says Board Chair of the American Foundation For Suicide Angela Drake.
“Unfortunately just 5 days before her 18th birthday, on March 24th of 2016, we lost that battle. And Brittany took her life. And the support didn’t stop. My big mama mouth didn’t stop either,” said Angela.
She is a board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in South Dakota.
“I still choose to use that voice to advocate for better mental health laws. And for education for those who need it for loss support for survivors and just to make sure that there is better help out there,” said Angela.
In memory of her daughter, Angela founded the Fight Like a Ninja Scholarship Foundation and Hockey Tournament whose hockey nickname was “The Ninja.”
“That first year, Brittany died in March, and that first year, we founded Fight Like A Ninja in her honor. Brittany loved hockey and our hockey community was so strong and so supportive. We are growing not just into a hockey tournament but we are bringing education to coaches and we are bringing in a speaker for the girls just to give them that much more to take home to their communities,” said Angela.
“What started as just honoring just Brittany has grown into showing people that it’s okay to not be okay but it’s not okay to stay that way, and here’s how we can help,” said Angela.
Angela is the Co-chair of the Sioux Falls Out of The Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Brittany loved to help others. She would fight and battle you on the ice like nobody’s business but as soon as that game was done, she would be hugging you and shaking your hand and there to listen and support you in whatever you were doing and be your friend,” said Angela.
Through community efforts, foundations, and organizations, Angela seeks to find ways she can offer help or guidance to those struggling with suicide.
“I sat with so many people that were right where I was nearly 7 years ago and all I can say is I’m not going to lie to you, it never stops hurting. Your broken heart will never be back. It’s something that will change you forever. The pain never lessens. But it does change. You can start living your life again, and not just existing,” said Angela.
She encourages families to have difficult conversations instead of silence.
“As we learn more, we make decisions that we make in the time that we make them with the information that we have. When we know better, we do better. What I would tell myself then. Just keep fighting, keep learning and keep growing,” said Angela.
“If your gut tells you to do something for someone you love, do it. Ask the questions, and have the conversation. Make the appointment. Don’t hesitate. The worst thing that happens if you have a conversation. Your gut is never going to steer you wrong. A conversation is never wasted,” said Angela.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988
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