By: Brooke DiPalma
At fourteen years old, the world was in my hands. I never would have guessed that it would come crashing down right before my eyes. On April 23, 2010, I lost my father to suicide. On that Friday morning he dropped me off and said his last three words to me…I Love You.
From a young age, my parents influenced me to think and dream big. They taught me what it means to be courteous, caring, bold, and an influential part of my community. When my father passed away, I lost a part of me and was unsure how to get it back. Seven months later, I remembered the last three words he said to me, “I Love You.”
On February 11, 2011 P.S. I Love You Day was created with the help of West Islip High School Class of 2014. Our mission was that “Tragedy should not be the force for togetherness; Togetherness should be the force that ends tragedies,” a mission statement developed by WIHS Class of 2014 Vice President. In the first year, we gained local media attention. However, in the second year we realized that we had created something far bigger than ourselves. Due to a YouTube video I created, we gained media attention from NBC 4 New York and many other local media outlets. Each year the movement grew, leading to schools celebrating P.S. I Love You Day locally, then within New York State, and then nationally. I was fortunate enough to receive acknowledgement by the Nassau County Holocaust and Memorial Tolerance Center, HOBY NY Metro, American Legion Auxiliary Girls State and Girls Nation, and the Long Island Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
In 2016, 6 years later and over 60 schools celebrating annually across the nation, P.S. I Love You Day, Inc. has become an official non-profit organization and has stuck to its mission. On every second Friday of February, we hope that schools and communities wear purple to represent standing up against bullying, help those who are suffering from depression, and prevent suicide.
With my 20th birthday coming up this week, I cannot help but to reflect on all that we have accomplished—together. I hope to expand P.S. I Love You Day further and implement it within local communities, statewide, and then nationally on a grander scale. Together, we have been able to break away at the stigma that surrounds the word “suicide,” but we’re not done yet.
All the support, love, and success that has come from P.S. I Love You Day would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the thousands of people who simply believed in the idea I had six years ago. Most importantly, it would not have been possible without my angel looking down on me…
P.S. I Love You ❤