Throw a starfish back to the sea

You know that story about the starfish washed up on the beach?  It goes like this:

A woman is walking on the beach early one morning, like she does every day, and she sees that during the night, thousands and thousands of starfish have washed up on the shore.   Maybe even a million of them.  The beach is covered, for as far as she can see as she looks down the coast into the fog.

Alarmed, she begins to pick the starfish up, one by one, and throw them back into the ocean.  The sun rises in the sky and gets hotter.  She tries to work faster, because while the starfish can be out of water for a little while, she knows they’ll die if left on the land.  With the sun directly overhead, she stops and holds her hand up to shade her eyes; the beach is still a solid swath of starfish. 

Up on the trail not too far from the beach, a runner comes into view.  She realizes this is the first person she’s seen all day, and so she decides to ask for help.  Before she can get the words out, the runner stops and looks at the starfish and then at the woman, "I don’t know why you are bothering with that," the runner shouts to her.  "There are too many!  You can’t save them all!  There’s only one of you and there are thousands and thousands of them.  There’s only one of you, you can’t make a difference."

The woman looks up at the runner on the trail.  She keeps at her task while she answers, "Well, that is true; I don’t think that I can save them all.  Most of them are probably going to die."  She turns away from the runner and toward the sea as she throws in another starfish, "But I sure did make a difference to that one."

So, I bring this story up because I’m hoping that you’ll help throw some starfish back into the water.  I’ve been emailing with Reese Butler of, and Frank Warren of PostSecret about helping them get the word out that Hopeline (you might also know them as 1 (800) SUICIDE) needs to raise as much money as possible, as quickly as possible, to remain privately run rather than government-controlled.  (Watch the video on Hopeline for the full story.)

If a whole big bunch of people would donate just a few bucks, it will make a huge difference to the people who pick up the phone looking for help.  I’m really committed to helping with this fund raising effort however I can.  If you’ll donate, even a dollar or five, and leave a comment, I will match your donation.   

You can also help for free, by writing about Hopeline or by going to the site and watching the video there and running it on your blog. 

I would bet that all of us know firsthand, to some degree, about suicide.  A boy that I was head over heels in love with in high school killed himself.  I still have the textbook cover that he wrote his phone number on one day after school.  The guy who sat next to me in biology class shot himself after school one day.  I’ve visited friends in the psych ward after suicide attempts, received a suicide note in the middle of the night via email from someone very close to me but out of state (who pulled through and apologized profusely the next day).  One of my closest and longest term friends (however you’d say that) attempted suicide before we ever met.  I grew up with a guy who jumped off the Golden Gate bridge.  I went to the memorial of my friend, Dale, who hung himself on his birthday.  I saw how his wife and his two tiny little boys, who looked just like him, were crushed and broken with the pain of losing him.   I rode to and from Dale’s service with a mutual friend of ours, Andrew, who spoke at the service.  I remember that he talked about how for most of us, when things are awful and dark, we’ve got a light at the end of the tunnel.  Something; whether it’s faith or love or hope or responsibility or whatever, that inspires us to keep on until things get better.   But, Dale didn’t have that light.  It was just dark for him, Andrew said.  One of the women that I got to know through our blogs attempted suicide last year, and I’m so grateful that I will get to see her next week.  So very, very grateful.

Even with all that life experience, and more, I’ve been there.  I’ve been depressed enough that my thoughts scared the hell out of me.  I got help.  I am so very lucky to have that light in the dark.  I talked with Reese Butler on the phone last week.  He told me the story of losing his wife and why he started 1 (800) SUICIDE.   He’s making light for people who don’t have any.  I think that we can all find a few bucks to contribute.  I think we can throw a few starfish before we walk on down the beach, you know?

7 thoughts on “Throw a starfish back to the sea

  1. Suebob

    This is great, Jen. You don’t have to match me, but last week I donated my big blog ad money ($38) to Hopeline in memory of my 2 uncles, who both killed themselves. Yes, my dad lost not one but two brothers to suicide. It tore his family apart.

    Thanks for spreading the word.

  2. Katie

    Hi, I’ve been reading your blog since it was linked to from PostSecret last week. I’ve just donated $10 to Hopeline. I was planning to anyway and I think it’s wonderful that you’re willing to match readers’ donations to keep Hopeline going.


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