September 30, 2016
On June 30, 2016 the world lost one of the most amazing, kind, brilliant young men to depression and suicide. Ryan Peters was only 19 years old, but his death has left an incredible void in this world. He had a heart of gold, a fantastic sense of humor and a contagious smile. He was highly intelligent, was a gifted writer, enjoyed music, appreciated classic literature, and played both the guitar and the piano. He was a dedicated employee at a nursing home, caring friend to many, and was a beloved son and brother. Although he had struggled with depression and anxiety from an early age, he didn't want depression to define him. He wrote in a sophomore English class, "I am Ryan Peters. I am survival."
Although Ryan was talented in so many ways, his greatest gift was his ability to help others who were struggling like he was. He was unable to help himself, so he poured all his energy into making sure those around him knew how valuable their lives were. He made sure they knew that no matter what they'd been through, there was hope. In one of Ryan's journal entries from 2013, he expressed his anger and deep frustration with the mental health system in our country. He desperately wanted the world to know that depression is a serious issue that can't be taken lightly. His words are ones we need to take seriously:
"I believe that my past has refined my character, but that I have the ultimate decision in whom I want to be. I want to be great. I want to leave a legacy. If it's idealistic and stupid, I don't care. I want to review my life and know that I've left something to be proud of. I want to make an impact on future generations. I may not be able to make that great leap into prosperity, but I might be able to influence someone who can. I could make a difference. Everyone can. I want to stand up and let everyone know that they belong. That they can make a difference."
Ryan left an incredible legacy, indeed. And now it's up to us to continue that legacy for him and for all who struggle with depression and anxiety. We need to make a difference!