Running For Carlos
Auburn, Calif. – Jacob Huston’s friends and family set up a picnic area at the entry of the overlook. A board is displayed with the words ‘Trail Angels Run’ spelled out in silver shimmery letters and notecards of names and a photo of Carlos Cruz Espinoza fills the empty spaces on the board. Over the hill, Jacob arrives from his latest run as he takes a break to rest and refresh. He requests only two things – sugar and caffeine. For the past 20 hours, Jacob has been running in the Auburn hills to honor his best friend’s memory and raise awareness about suicide prevention. With a look at his watch, Jacob mentally prepares for the next hour as he says “only 14 more miles until I hit 100.”
On Oct. 21, 2019, Jacob Huston’s best friend of 15 years, Carlos Cruz Espinoza, died by suicide. The news shocked Espinoza’s family and friends as they never suspected Carlos was experiencing suicidal thoughts. “Days, weeks, and months come and go, but the pain from that day has never left,” said Jacob.
As an ultra-runner Jacob combined his pain and passion into a cause that speaks up for the victims of suicide and those affected by it. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Oct. 20, Jacob began running with the goal of continuing to move until 6 p.m. on Oct. 21 while raising funds for WellSpace Health’s Suicide Prevention Crisis Line through a GoFundMe page. Dozens of friends and families joined his cause any way they could whether it was running, walking, or driving.
48,000 people in the United States died by suicide in 2018. The number of friends and families affected by suicide cannot be measured. Questions without answers plague loved ones’ as they struggle to think of any warning signs or if there was something more they could have done. Over a 20-year period, suicide rates have risen 35% with suicide rates 3.7 times higher among men.
The best way to save the life of a loved one is to know and spot the warning signs of suicide:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Expressing guilt, shame, extreme sadness, or hopelessness
- Withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away important items, or making a will
- Taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Eating or sleeping more or less
- Using drugs or alcohol more often
Unfortunately, the signs are not always as obvious or as long-standing. The idea and action of killing one’s self could happen within the same day which is why it is important to follow up with friends or family and start to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. Be open and honest, be there, and listen. With COVID-19 implemented lockdowns, WellSpace Health’s Suicide Prevention Crisis Line received twice as many calls in June 2020 than in the same month the year before. It is more important than ever to reach out to loved ones and remind them that they are not alone.
The day that Jacob lost Carlos may never leave his mind but he hopes his run will spark an annual discussion, reaching more people each year.
If you wish to donate you can visit the GoFundMe page here.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).