Between songs, Robb Nash shared his story and talked to students who came out to The Robb Nash Project held at Westerner Park on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Motivational speaker tells Red Deer students he’s been handed 869 suicide notes

A Winnipeg speaker who encourages teens to make positive life choices has received the suicide notes of 869 young people.

Robb Nash returned to Red Deer this week, using music and conversation to connect with young people about the issues they face, such as bullying, addiction, self-harm and suicide.

By the time the last of three shows is held Thursday, youth from 22 Red Deer-area schools will be introduced to the award-winning initiative, where Nash shares his story of resilience and strength battling mental illness.

When Nash was 17, he survived a head-on collision with a semi truck. After a difficult recovery, he started a band that led to songs on the Canadian top 10 music chart.

For almost 10 years, Nash has been touring with his message of hope for young people. The connection has been mutual, with students surrendering to him the suicide notes they have written, and the razor blades they have used to cut themselves.

“We’ve been handed on this tour 869 suicide notes now,” said Nash, whose 2018-19 tour will wrap up in Ottawa this month.

He said the issues facing youth are consistent city to city and province to province, but younger students are now battling the issues that once faced high school students.

“That’s probably the most compelling thing to watch, and is also jarring: these young faces that are handing me razor blades and suicide notes.”

Nash said he tours to get the conversation started. To talk about the tragedies, but also the victories and triumphs.

“We live in a society where we’re told to deal with our issues and keep them inside. I had those thoughts. I went through all that stuff when I was a teenager.

“I kept it all inside. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. That’s why I do this, to encourage people to don’t keep this stuff inside. Make sure you’re talking to somebody.”

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