I lost a peer this past weekend to the pandemic. But, I did not lose her due to COVID-19.

I lost her to suicide.

When the news arrived this past Saturday morning that she had died, my community’s collective hopes were that this was an accident, as she was so active….mountain biking in the drier months, skiing in the winter.  As the day went on, news reports indicated that she didn’t return from a bike ride, and that local search and rescue was marshaled to aid in her search.  Authorities located her about seven hours after she was reported missing.

I did not know her well, but I interacted with her as a part of our local nonprofit world.  She was leader in her field, beloved by her staff, respected by her board, engaged in her community.  I saw regular posts during the pandemic about her engaged in outdoor activities with her partner and pet dogs. She attended my training sessions.  Served with me on a search committee to hire a new Executive Director for a local nonprofit.  Shared favorite European skiing locations and favorite foods from abroad.

I would have never imagined that she was struggling.

I don’t know if the struggle has always been there, or was exacerbated by almost a year of uncertainty, isolation and struggle.  Almost 11 months of chaos, change, and crisis. What I do know is that her death is not an isolated incident.

I have spent the last 48 hours wondering what I could have done to help her.  And, wondering what else I should be doing to reach out to others to check in on their mental health.

So, I’m reaching out today to see how YOU are doing.  And to say that it’s OK to not be OK right now.  There’s been SO much going on this year, and for many, it’s just TOO MUCH.

How are you holding up?  Do you need to talk?  Are you building in time for self-care?  Do you have regular interaction with others, even if that’s on the phone or via Zoom?  Do you have access to healthy stress outlets, like exercise, sleep, laughter, healthy food, lots of water, connecting with others?

Please know that you are loved, cared for and appreciated.  And, if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  800-273-8255.

Locally, in Teton Valley, the Mental Health Coalition offers free counseling and resources.