Jan. 10, 2017 changed the life of Sgt. 1st Class David Maser forever when his then 15 year old sister, Dawn, took her own life.
“She was the light for every person she ever met,” said Maser. “Just like her name suggests; her kindness and love warmed everyone like the morning sun.”
Maser said she always took care of people and he felt that he had to try and take care of people too. So Maser sought a way to help prevent the tragedy of suicide. He began to work with others that made suicide prevention their mission and assisted in fundraising and awareness efforts. Now he said he is competing in a triathlon to do just that.
“The triathlon has always been on my bucket list,” said Maser. “I felt that I needed to do something to bring more awareness to the crisis of suicide and doing it in my sister Dawn’s honor makes it all the more special for me on the bucket list.”
The Bear Triathlon, held in Bear, Delaware, is being held May 19 and is a platform that Maser is using to help awareness and nonprofit entities that promote awareness. The Olympic distance of the race includes a .9 mile swim, 23 mile bike ride and 6 mile run.
Maser also serves as a suicide prevention officer in the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard. He said part of his duties are to deliver the semi-annual briefings to the unit and to help encourage Soldiers to talk about things that may be affecting their performance, home life or personal growth.
“The stigma that seeking help from a professional is bad, is definitely on the decline and needs to continue to decline, as veteran suicides are also on the decline,” said Maser. “I have had a few come to me, some just to have a shoulder to cry on or vent about some stressor. I also have had to take direct action.”
Maser said of all the statistics the one he thinks that is important is that for every one suicide there are 280 people who sought help.
“We should think positive even though this is a negative topic,” said Maser. “There are people getting help and that’s what people should do. We want to focus on that number going up.”
Maser said he had to ask a person if they were thinking about suicide and if they had a plan.
“I thought it would be hard to ask but when you care about a person you start to worry about them,” said Maser. “That’s an internal trigger to start engaging in a conversation to get a feel for their situation.”
Maser said there are a few people he knows about who have done something to fix the stressors in their life and they are doing well.
“Those are the stories we should be hearing and encourage them to speak about it,” said Maser. “They help people realize they are not alone and have a greater chance to gain their own courage to get help.”
Maser said if you are having issues, please talk to someone; your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, friend, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or send a text to 741 741.
“I miss Dawn and seeing the way she always seemed to put a smile on everyone’s face,” said Maser. “This triathlon is not about me and my bucket list. It’s about spreading awareness and taking action to get people talking more about suicide prevention and help those who are stuck, hurting, bullied or depressed.”
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