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Reaching out to hurting people

Posted on February 5, 2014 by Lethbridge Sun Times

Modern medicine has made great strides in the area of pain management. Sometimes, however, the pain is much deeper, residing where no medicine can alleviate it.

Robb Nash isn’t a doctor; he’s a musician. But he knows about pain, and he has a knack for reaching people where they’re hurting.

On Jan. 28, the Winnipeg-based Nash shared his story and music with young people at Lethbridge College, where he spoke about the vehicle collision when he was 17 in which he was found dead on arrival; his parents were even informed that their son had died in a collision.

But Nash was given a second chance at life, though it hasn’t been an easy road back. His body is filled with metal and he still undergoes surgeries. He initially didn’t know who he was or who his parents were; he had to relearn how to walk and talk. And, he said, he woke up “angry and bitter.”

He didn’t stay bitter, however, and recalls that “. . . one day I realized I’m still breathing. I should do something with this.”

So what he does is travel the country with his band, Live on Arrival, performing and speaking to young people in prisons, youth detention centres, on First Nations reserves and in schools, places where he finds hurting people with whom his story resonates. And he makes a difference in people’s lives.

Some of the testimonials on Nash’s website from students are powerful, to say the least. Some are from young people who were planning suicide before Nash’s visit, and others from those battling depression or difficult issues in their lives. Nash brought them hope and purpose.

Tuesday, as it so happens, was the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, which encourages Canadians to talk about mental health issues and break the stigma surrounding mental health. Bell Canada says this year’s awareness day prompted more than 109 million tweets, texts, calls and shares and raised more than $5 million for Canadian mental health programs.

A fact sheet on the Bell Let’s Talk website notes that suicide accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15-24-year-olds and 16 per cent among 25-44-year-olds. That doesn’t include the countless others who have pondered such action, as well as those who haven’t but are hurting nevertheless.

Sometimes all these hurting people need to help them turn things around is to know that someone cares; that there’s someone they can talk to who understands.

Robb Nash understands people who are hurting, and he’s someone with whom they feel they can share their pain. We can’t all be musicians who travel the country, sharing our story and inspiring others, but we can all provide a caring heart and a listening ear for someone in emotional pain. We can all be part of encouraging people to talk about mental health issues.

In that way, we can all provide hope and purpose for someone who needs it.

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