How “Purple Hearts” Changed My Life

Our Everly Mag Writing Leaders told us about a single piece of art that changed their life.  Whether it’s a song, book, television episode, YouTube video, or more, our leaders discussed why and how this piece of art made an impact.

This article was written by our writing leader MikaylaGet to know our Summer 2018 Leaders here!

Note: This article contains references to teenagers struggling with depression and suicide.  Read with a trusted adult or with caution.  If you are struggling with a mental illness, please reach out to a trusted adult for help.

I stumbled upon “Purple Hearts,” a TSN original, a few years back.  I was scrolling through YouTube and I saw the thumbnail of the big purple heart.  I was intrigued, so I decided to watch the video.  Little did I know that this 9-minute video would be the most impactful thing I had ever watched.

“Purple Hearts” tells the story of Daron Richardson, a young girl from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, who battled depression.  In November 2010, Daron tragically lost her life to suicide.  She was just 14 years old.  Daron had battled quietly; she never told anyone what she felt or what she was going through.  To many, she seemed like she was always happy and had a smile on her face.  She hid her struggles.

A fantastic resource from Do It For Daron (DIFD).  Image: DIFD

Daron’s friends, family, and hockey teammates started DIFD – Do It Fro Daron – which has now become a movement to end the stigma around mental illness and encourage young people to speak up if they need help.  Thee logo, a purple heart with the letters DIFD, has become extremely familiar to many people in Canada and around the world, especially in the hockey community.  Purple was Daron’s favorite color, and now it represents so much: unity, perseverance, power, and hope.

Before watching the video, I knew what depression was, but I didn’t really understand how so many people around the world and in my own community are affected by mental illness.  I had even seen the DIFD logo, but never truly knew what it meant.  The video taught me more than just about mental illness.  It taught me about teamwork, strength, and power.  It taught me to speak up for causes close to my heart.  It taught me to ask people how they were feeling and to make sure they knew that I would always be an ear to listen to any struggles in their lives.

Image: Hockey Canada

Do It For Daron has inspired me to get out there and make a difference.  It has helped so many people worldwide to get the help they need when they are struggling with mental illness.  Different sports teams across North America have had DIFD-inspired games where they raise funds for mental health initiatives.

Mental illness and mental health awareness has been a cause very important to me since hearing Daron’s story. I’m constantly educating myself and learning which I truly believe is one of the most important steps to take to in order to shatter the stigma. There are still so many people out there who really don’t know much about these illnesses. I now know that 1 in 3 Canadians will deal with a mental illness in their lifetime and that suicide is the second leading cause in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Over 200 Canadian youth take their lives each year. In the USA, the NAMI says that 1 in 5 people experience a mental illness in any given year.

Daron’s friend Rebecca supporting DIFD.  Image: Bell Media

The video, made in 2014, is still something I look back and watch often. It still makes me feel the way it did the very first time I watched it. It drives me to make a change. Although I never had the chance to meet Daron Richardson, her story inspires me and so many people around the world everyday. If you have a few minutes to spare minutes to spare, watch the video. I hope it changes your life the way it changed mine.

If you are struggling with mental illness, remember to reach out to a trusted adult and seek resources for help, such as NAMI, Suicide Prevention Lifeline, ADAA, or your country’s equivalent.

Watch the Purple Hearts video here, and check out the Do It For Daron website here.  A reminder that this video deals with teen mental health and suicide; watch with a trusted adult or with caution.

All articles submitted to Everly Mag are property of Everly Mag and the writer only and may not be copied, reproduced, or duplicated in any publication or entity.  Everly Mag © 2018.  All Rights Reserved.

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