Hug Someone | Tribute from Japan

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Last week, heavy sadness came down on the longboarding community. Friends that loved a dear downhill skateboarder outpoured their sadness online. Many, if not all, will forever be shocked about the news. Unbeknownst to many in the community that rode with this young man was the suffering he was going through. I was, and still am a little lost for words but I posted this.

Disclosure: I didn’t know him well enough to know for sure what his suffering was. We should never assume but it isn’t talked about enough so why not try to help others, that’s my thinking. A lot of the things I do for danpape.org are for people that are having immense troubles in their lives. Sometimes it’s clear and sometimes the signs can’t be read. Either way, we should all reach to help others the best we can. About 6 months ago I started to write an article on suicide in Japan. I haven’t had enough courage to publish it yet. This needs to be talked about more.



Posted by me on my Colabo Crew Facebook Page - Tuesday April 8

Suicide is never easy to accept. The outpour of people that are shocked with his suicide is a clear indication that he will be missed immensely. He was that guy that everyone liked being around, including me. When people mentioned him in conversation I immediately pictured his wonderful glowing smile. Hug a friend that needs it today. That embrace may end up saving his or her life.
Shred in Peace Bro

Colabo Crew - ed


The next day when I woke from my terrible, restless anxious & energy filled sleep I received this message. I was given permission to post it anonymously from the writer. It really resonated with me. It was from someone that has been actively involved in downhill skateboarding for years. He also was featured in this article. If you want to see another way he looks at things, please take a look. He’s brilliant, and super interesting. I respect him a great deal and his opinions.


Hey I saw your post and others’ about that skater’s suicide yesterday. I don’t want to start a debate or use that tragedy to advance an agenda but I do want to put in my two cents since you have become a mental health advocate (to me ADHD is not simply an educational issue but is primarily a mental health issue since the comorbidity of ADHD with other mental health issues is very high). I would have written this out in the open but I honestly do not think it would be well received, which I believe is a huge part of the problem.

My best friend killed himself when we were 27 (I had not seen him in a year since he had become engaged and was working in another town). At the informal wake we held a day or so before the funeral, our friends expressed shock and outrage. “How could this happen?” or “Why didn’t he reach out to us?” were a couple commonly expressed questions. Much of this was directed at me since I was the only openly “out” mental patient. It was frustrating because I wanted to give them the answers they desperately wished for, but I knew from experience that I couldn’t tell them the truth, that the signs were probably there if they were paying attention and were open to receiving them, but that many of us end up keeping our troubles to ourselves because we have already tried to get through to others (usually in subtle ways to test the waters), only to be rebuffed with simplistic platitudes that basically say “It can’t be that bad. Be quiet and toughen up”.

Sadly, little has changed since then. Mental health may have become a household topic but the stigma surrounding it is as strong as ever. (It doesn’t help that psychiatry is failing so many of us or in many cases making things worse, but that is another topic.) My own family is an example of the typical effects of stigma. While they are not openly hostile to me, they cowardly and silently turned their backs as my health got worse, when I became poor, when I became homeless, etc. They acted this way because it is easy and because it is still socially acceptable. “Not my problem” is what people like them think or say. Then they attend the funeral of someone who died too soon and express their grief and outrage and confusion and the pattern repeats itself…. <sigh>

I never thought of myself as an activist. But through my own experiences I know that this topic must be brought to peoples’ attention, that it isn’t just a problem for sufferers but for all of society.

Anonymous Downhill Skatebooarder

The hardest part of all this is there are likely countless cases like this tragedy that are unaccounted for, or go into the shame box. How can we help? That is what I truly want to know and have pledged to open the conversation more so we help.

The suicide rate in Japan is quite serious. It’s serious everywhere but even if the numbers have been dropping here, it’s really high. Shame is also an issue so a lot of cases are unaccounted for. There have been a campaigns and there are chat lines for people contemplating taking their own life but for the most part the issues are swept under the rug. Depression is not addressed the way it should be. Shoganai.

I wanted re-emphasize that I am a trying my best to be a voice for people that have ADHD or other learning challenges in school. Depression and anxiety are sometimes associated with these academic challenges so suicide prevention or at least helping is always on my radar. Always. not obsessed but intuitive to the people around me. It’s been 5 years since I had been with the longboard family back in Canada so I watched my video below to reminisce . Like Andrew Chapman said online (who is in this video), (one of the greats of DH Skateboarding)

“Today was turbulent and shocking for a community dispersing by time and space-

I had trouble putting it into words, Chapman did a better job than I.

A few days later I wrote.

“Having a tall boy for my man Bren. Kid was so cool. Instant liking kind of coolness. He will be missed.

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If I was back in Vancouver I’d be with my Coast sisters and brothers (today they did a memorial cruise) . But since I’m on the other side of the ocean, I’m having a toast in the middle of the afternoon. Not feeling so productive today. We all cope in different ways and mine is to pound a big can, it's my way of toasting to the lost souls of this world that couldn’t win on this plain. I’ve been very lost , but somehow I make it back. I'd tend to be believe it's my seeds. However, some , like him, aren’t so fortunate and are clouded by what they think is un-escapable.

If your friends struggle , get their back. And not just when it’s obvious, get it whenever, get it always. Cuz you just never know. :(

Repost from Les Robertson, love you as well Les. In many ways, you too are a rock.

"Hard times in the community this week. Join up with the Seawall Cruise tonight to share some love.

If you or someone you love is struggling with some challenges, please do not wait or hesitate to seek help. You are loved.

Suicide Attempt Follow-up, Education & Research (S.A.F.E.R.). S.A.F.E.R. is a free of charge, time-limited counselling service offered at Mental Health and Substance Use Outpatient Services.

A S.A.F.E.R counsellor can help you if:

1) You are feeling suicidal
Counselling (for up to 6 months) may help you learn new ways to cope with difficult times and painful feelings. S.A.F.E.R. can help you:

Discuss ways to keep you safe

Deal with painful feelings

Talk about what has happened in your life that causes you pain

Begin to set goals and feel more hopeful

Learn how to work on and solve problems

Build on your strengths

2) You are concerned about someone who is suicidal
S.A.F.E.R. offers up to three appointments with a counsellor to a person concerned about someone who is suicidal. During these sessions you can:

Learn about what to do, how to get help, and where to go for support.

Talk about your concerns

Get facts about suicide risk

Learn when to get help

Discuss ways to look after yourself

3) You are experiencing suicide bereavement
S.A.F.E.R. offers individual counselling (for up to a year) to individuals who have lost someone to suicide.

They also offer counsellor-led groups for those who are ready to work on their grief with others.

To refer yourself for any of these services, please contact the Access and Assessment Centre at (604) 675-3700.Hard times in the community this week. Join up with the Seawall Cruise tonight to share some love.

If you or someone you love is struggling with some challenges, please do not wait or hesitate to seek help. You are loved.

Suicide Attempt Follow-up, Education & Research (S.A.F.E.R.). S.A.F.E.R. is a free of charge, time-limited counselling service offered at Mental Health and Substance Use Outpatient Services.

To refer yourself for any of these services, please contact the Access and Assessment Centre at (604) 675-3700.”

Dan Pape