Sandra Dawson passed away on October 2, 2018. You may not recognize her name, but hundreds of thousands of people have been touched by her efforts on behalf of mental health and suicide prevention, most notably behind the @unsuicide handle on Twitter.
With nearly 25,000 Twitter followers and more than 26,000 tweets in the past ten years, she highlighted resources and help for countless numbers of people in the depths of depression. She also ran the unsuicide wiki, which offered those resources in a more static environment. Sandra was only 51.
Here’s what the Neurocritic had to say of Sandra’s passing:
Sandra was taken from this earth by the indiscriminate brutality of metastatic cancer. She died at North Shore Hospice in North Vancouver, B.C. at the age of 51. This horrific experience was not a “fight.” She did NOT lose a battle against the unchecked proliferation of malignant cells. Instead, Sandra saw the final phase of her life a journey. She was incredibly brave while facing the ravages of this terrible disease, and was ultimately accepting of her fate.
If you want a proper appreciation and tribute to her life, I suggest you read her entire tribute post. She met her wife (the Neurocritic) back in 2006, through — what else? — her amazing writing:
We met in 2006 through our respective blogs, The Neurocritic and Neurofuture. The neuroblogging community was quite small then. Neurofuture started in January 2006 — a blog about Brain Science and Neurofuturism that was ahead of its time (so to speak).
I’ve never had the pleasure or honor of meeting Sandra face-to-face. However, we did meet for the first time through our online work 11 years ago when she began writing for Psych Central. She helped out a lot in the early days after I had started working full-time on the website. In 2009, we transferred her video-oriented blog, Channel N, over to Psych Central. She was an avid and enthusiastic blogger and writer, and I enjoyed regularly reading her work.
Around the same time, she started the @unsuicide work on Twitter. @Unsuicide is focused on tweeting out mental health, depression, and suicide prevention resources, news, support, and more. To help with those efforts, she also began an accompanying wiki at Wikispaces.
Sandra loved writing fiction most, however, according to her tribute.
Earlier this year, she contacted me about keeping the unsuicide wiki alive, as the place where it was hosted, Wikispaces, was shutting down. She helped us move everything over to unsuicide.org (still a work in progress, as we continue editing and organizing all the great resources that were at the old wiki). I’m a big believer that fantastic, valuable resources like unsuicide need to live on, forever if possible. So I was very grateful that Sandra had reached out to us to make that happen for the wiki.
Although I knew her only in a professional role, Sandra was someone whom I truly admired and respected. She gave me and regularly renewed my hope for the world. And she was tireless in her advocacy efforts, which is a model I can only hope to emulate and carry on in some small way through unsuicide.org.
In Memory of Sandra Dawson
I encourage you to learn more about this amazing, creative, warm-hearted person who touched so many people’s lives. Sandra will be greatly missed — I feel like there’s a huge hole in the world now, missing her light and presence.
The Neurocritic’s Tribute: There Is a Giant Hole Where My Heart Used To Be
CREST.BD’s article: Sandra Dawson’s Legacy
The Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder (CREST.BD) is a multidisciplinary collaborative network of researchers, healthcare providers, people living with bipolar disorder, their family members and supporters. Sandra was a peer researcher with them since 2016.
In lieu of flowers, her family encourages a donation to: Paul Sugar Palliative Support Foundation
Photo credit: CREST.BD