After an almost-fatal car accident at 17 years old, Robb Nash considers it his life-mission to help teens who are contemplating suicide, because he knows too well about the struggles that kids are going through.
Before being resuscitated at the hospital, Nash was initially pronounced dead on arrival following his car accident. In the weeks and months that followed, he too no longer wanted to live as the accident had robbed him of any chance he had at a sports career. He was left feeling lost, and desperate to die.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in people 10 to 24 years old in Canada. The Association also found that 24 percent of deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds in Canada are the result of suicide.
A New Purpose for His Life
A musician by trade, Nash walked away from a record deal he had landed with his band, Live on Arrival, to instead perform his songs and share his anti-suicide message instead. He now travels Canada full-time, giving presentations to students in an effort to help them find meaning and purpose in their lives.
“I don’t want others to have to go through a near-death experience like I did…before they learn to live!”
He does an average of 150 shows every year, where he speaks openly with students about suicide prevention, and shares his own raw and emotional experiences as a way to better connect.
Nash believes there is at least one teen in every crowd that desperately needs to hear his message. That’s a lot of lives that he’s helping to save, simply by making them feel like they are not alone.
At the end of his presentations, many students have handed him their unused suicide notes. It’s a gesture that symbolically allows them to rid themselves of their suicidal thoughts or intentions. Nash explains, “It’s their way of saying, ‘I won’t be needing that anymore.’”
Recently, Nash took 120 of the signatures from suicide notes he had been given to a tattoo parlor, where he had the signatures turned into a wearable piece of art.
His tattooed arm is now a visual aid in his presentations as an inspiration and important lesson in ridding yourself of suicidal thoughts. If all of those other kids can unburden themselves of suicide, so can those in the crowd.
His tattoo is a powerful reminder that while depression may leave you feeling lonely, you are truly never alone.
Know the Signs
Suicide often stems from depression that goes unnoticed. Depression looks different for everyone, but Nash says a lot of students tell him that they’re told they’re too sensitive—a stigma that he believes our culture needs to remove.
He continuously tries to encourage audiences to embrace their feelings, rather than hiding them in shame.
Statistics show that even if you don’t personally struggle with depression, it’s likely that you know someone who does. It’s important to recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression in yourself, and also be able to identify them in friends who may be desperate for help.
Nash also wants people to understand that someone who suffers from depression cannot miraculously be cured by a motivational speaker or a kind gesture. It’s an ongoing struggle, but we can all help a little bit by simply being kind.