"Your life is full of 'not yets,'" Sam Anthony Lucania shared with high school and junior high students at Lincolnwood in Raymond on Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 28.
Sponsored by Cross Over Ministries, Lucania shared a message of wellness along with his personal experiences with drugs, alcohol, anxiety, depression and suicidal behavior to help motivate students in all four school districts in Montgomery County–Hillsboro and Lincolnwood on Tuesday, then Litchfield and Nokomis on Wednesday.
His visit concluded with a free public event at The Event Center in Taylor Springs on Wednesday evening.
Lucania began his hour-long presentation to students by graphically demonstrating how he was found by his wife in 2013 on the verge of death after an overdose on prescription drugs.
"I am the face of addiction," the fit, energetic and charismatic speaker said.
He emphasized to students that their lives are full of "not yets," and encouraged them to focus on the positive things they will accomplish but haven't yet, and not give in to negative experiences they have yet to try.
He told students how his unwillingness to share his anxiety problems led to substance abuse, arrests, and his near-death overdose.
"I didn't want to die," Lucania said. "I just didn't know how to live."
He encouraged students to share moments of anxiety and depression, and to be willing to seek help.
"Don't be afraid to give up the person that other people think you should be," the speaker said. "Be the person you know you are."
Cross Over Ministries, sponsor of the two-day events, specifically sought out Lucania, a New Jersey native, as someone who could connect with youth in Montgomery County, where the suicide rate is higher than the state average, and both hospitals report increased rates of patients with depression.
Through hope, opportunity, mercy, and encouragement, Cross Over Ministries is a grass roots not-for-profit working to cultivate mental health opportunities and promote individual recovery and wellness through resources for mental health, recovery, and suicide prevention; assistance with co-pays and transportation; training opportunities; support and recovery groups; community awareness and advocacy; and story-sharing in the form of memorials and testimonials.