Former Gang Member Founds Greeley Suicide-Prevention Group.
GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — The morning after Shannon Hawley tried to commit suicide by cop, he woke up angry in the Weld County Jail.
His chest hurt because when he'd charged the Greeley police officers who responded to his home that night, they fired a non-lethal beanbag round at him instead of using their guns. The night might have ended as he wanted it to — he was a drunk gang member and they believed he had a gun that night — but the officers were able to subdue and arrest him instead of kill him.
"I don't blame those officers at all," he said, five years after that night. "I provoked them."
Now he loves the life he once tried to end. His faith in God had a lot to do with that, as did getting sober, getting out of the gang life and growing closer to his family. It wasn't easy, but now he knows life gets better.
Confronting his own personal demons wasn't enough though, he said. He'd been thinking about starting a suicide prevention program for years. But when he heard about the three Greeley teens who killed themselves in the span of a week last month, he knew he needed to act. That's why he started a Facebook page, called Hope4_2Morrow, dedicated to spreading a message of hope and educating people about suicide. He wants to use the page to raise money for a scholarship that will be dedicated to a high school student who creates a work of art — anything from a painting to a dance routine — with a suicide-prevention message. In September, he plans to invite those student artists to a "celebration of life" event at Island Grove Regional Park. He's already got the slot reserved where they will perform their piece.
"Be raw with it, because it's a raw issue," he said. "But put hope in it. It's got to have hope in it."
The inspiration for Hope4_2Morrow has its roots in the difficult days after his arrest. Back then — when he was broke, on probation and not allowed to see his kids — the darkness felt crushing. When people find themselves in a vulnerable place like that, he said, suicide might seem like an option.
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