Have you ever lost someone to suicide? Whether it’s a family member, friend, or distant acquaintance, the realization that someone took their own life will shake you to the core.
In 2015 it happened to me. Lacie wasn’t someone I was close with, a few instagram messages and interaction here and there—but when we lost her, it rattled the community I was surrounded by and the aftershock could be felt by everyone. Only Human was already in the works and I had been collecting the stories of humans who moved through hard times. I felt called to not only honor Lacie’s life, but put a message out there that could ask others to fight for another day.
Mental Health support is at the core of what Only Human does. Each year we reimagine the Stay; Campaign with a new theme and new community resources. We partner with non-profits like The Trevor Project, Sounds of Saving, The JED Foundation, and Hope For The Day who all work to provide humans and communities with the support they need in hard times.
Over the years we’ve seen hundreds of tattoos, stories, and friendships born from this campaign and through this community. Below is the history of Stay; broken down by year and why we chose the themes we did.
September 2017 💛
The first Stay; campaign was launched in 2017 and a portion of the funds collected through sales went to Lacie’s family as they walked in a Suicide Prevention Walk. My first design was the “Stay;” icon itself. In 2017 I sold all my things, gave up my lease, and hit the road to spread the message. I had been on the road for nearly 3 months when I drew what would become an icon of hope for our community. The icon was meant to be a request to those around you who may be silently struggling—to Stay; because their story isn’t over.
Theme: Our fingerprints never fade from the lives we touch
After launching the original Stay; campaign, we knew that this was more powerful than just one year. So in 2018, we decided that each year we would reimagine the campaign with a new theme and put a focus on mental health 365 days of the year.
Through my years on this planet, I’ve realized that we all have the power to to impact the lives we touch. The shirt design included a hand print on the sleeve to not only signify the people we’ve lost, but as a reminder that our impact can be felt by others—even when we don’t realize it.
September 2019 🤟
Theme: Promise me tomorrow
A promise can be a powerful reminder that our life isn’t always about us, but about every person we’ve impacted, the ones we will impact, those who love us, have loved us, and will love us deeply. In 2019, our shirt design included a pinky promise. A promise that you’ll take it one day at a time. A promise that there is a tomorrow in your story.
September 2020 🎶
Theme: Life sounds better with you in it
Music has the power to save lives. Every time we’ve asked our community what tools they use to move through hard times, music is always one of the top responses. So in 2020, while in the midst of a pandemic that isolated people, we decided that music could be our answer. We ran 4 virtual concerts where we talked with the artists about their mental health journey and how music has been a powerful tool in their healing. We wanted people to know that no matter what hardship you face—life sounds better with you in it.
September 2021 🗣
Theme: Words matter
Sticks and stones may break bones but words have the power to destroy us. In 2021, we decided to put a focus not only on the words we say to ourselves, but how much your words can impact those around you as well. It was a call to reflect on how we speak to ourselves and others. I decided to design a shirt where we printed an entire letter on the back, so as you wore it out in the world, you could spark those conversations in real time with humans just like you.
July/August/September 2022 ☮️
Theme: Find peace in the pieces
Have you ever felt completely shattered in life? As though one day you woke up to the scattered pieces of your life with the challenge of putting them all back together? Our 2022 Stay; Campaign was designed for just those moments. When you feel like the pieces are too small to glue back together, we wanted you to know that you can still find peace. It could be the moment you feel like you can’t move on, or the moment when you realize you already are. I designed this shirt with a shattered effect on the bottom to signify those experiences. I wanted this to be a call to seek peace in your life no matter what you’re going through. That sometimes it can be easier to focus on the broken, but that there is healing in putting it all back together. You are stronger than you know and sometimes when everything falls apart, it’s because it was meant to be put back together in a different way. There can be beauty that comes from our hardest moments, but it will require you to feel the heartbreak of being shattered before you realize that you are meant for more. You can and will find peace in that.