Co-workers ride cross country for suicide awarenessPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Sometimes the people we meet at work become our closest friends. Such is the case with two Valley men. They not only shared the same interests, but experienced the same tragedy. They're hoping a cross-country journey will bring healing not only to them but others.
“He taught me how to play basketball,” Thomas Brown said. “He protected me from bullies.”
Brown and Zachary Chipps had more than just work in common. Both had older brothers they looked up to.
“He was my idol,” Chipps said. “I was 10 and he was 19. He was the coolest kid in school.”
Unfortunately, both of their brothers, Sean and Marc, made a decision that forever changed Chipps and Brown. The men ended up committing suicide.
“Most of what I had dealt with the first five years was anger,” Chipps said. “Once he left I thought he was selfish. I could have done something.”
It was through this friendship that the two men have stopped suffering in silence and began talking through their pain.
“When we came up with the idea of the bike ride, Chipps was the individual that actually, without even knowing it, gave me permission to be OK that I was a part of another community and that was of the survivors’ community,” Brown said.
He and Chipps are walking away from their jobs and family to take a seven-month cross-country bike ride dedicated to suicide awareness.
“I'm stepping away from my home and my comfort zone and as adventurous as it will be, it's going to be difficult,” Brown said.
The journey is called RISE: Revolution Inspired by Self-Evolution. The two will cover more than 7,000 miles with stops in 110 cities across 21 states.
“I think the thing we can't prepare for is our town hall meetings, discussions and forums,” Chipps said. “It’s the heart-to-heart real conversations [surrounding suicide] that we're going to have.”
Real conversations that will hopefully not just give people a forum to talk about suicide, but also a forum that gives them hope that help is never too far away.
“We are not going to see any true change unless we come together as a community and share some compassion, collaborate and help each other out,” Brown said.
Brown and Chipps plan to video blog the bike ride that kicks off on March 1. If you would like to help their cause with donations or volunteering, log onto http://www.risephoenix.org.
LA Frontera Arizona EMPACT-Suicide Prevention Center
Arizona Attorney General’s Veterans Task Force (CAMO)
Scottsdale United Church of Christ
Shadow Rock United Church of Christ
TUF: The Underground Foundation (ASU)