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When I was 34, and he was 40, my gentle, brilliant brother died by suicide. The world lost a treasure beyond measure. In the years before and since, I've periodically wrestled my own dragons of depression. To transform grief and empathy into purpose, I've raised $80,000 for suicide prevention since 2010, and this winter I become a suicide helpline volunteer. All to say, anti-shame activism and suicide prevention have become central to my life. 


In September 2020, I formed a 5K team called The Company Keepers, to raise funds for Samaritans Inc, a Boston-based, nationally utilized suicide crisis helpline. Multiple members of our team lost loved ones to suicide. Together, we raised over $37,000. 


The night before the walk, we made posters to carry the next day, with messages I'd want to see in my own moments of deep struggle.  At the end of our stroll, as we gathered on the grass at Jamaica Pond in Boston, a teammate suggested we leave the posters behind, for passersby to experience.


Later that evening, one of my teammates and I returned to watch people connect with the posters. We were stunned by the response. People of all stripes and ages stopped and read not just one or two, but slowly read all 10 posters, taking photos and talking to each other about them. I heard one mom say to her little girl, "See? You get to have all of your feelings!" 

So this winter, with the stress of the pandemic continuing to take an incalculable toll on our individual and collective mental health, we decided to weatherize the posters and place them back at the pond for as long as the powers that be allow them to stay!


The 2020 5K for Samaritans was just the beginning for The Company Keepers. We even have our own mission statement! Each year going forward we hope to add new team members, and raise more funds than the year before, for Samaritans' life-saving work. 

We'd love to keep you in The Company Keepers loop. Please submit your email below. (Emails will be rare.) And if you're interested in joining our 2021 team please get in touch! 

We're also eager to create more public campaigns to reduce shame around mental health challenges. If you have ideas or would be interested in collaborating, we'd be thrilled to hear from you!

Most importantly, if you or a loved one needs a loving, listening ear any time of day or night, please call or text Samaritans: 877-870-4673 (HOPE). 

Here's to keeping each other company on the brave, bumpy road of being human,

Kyle Elizabeth Freeman & The Company Keepers


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