Interview with Emily Dayton

Hi all! I want to give a big thank you to Emily Dayton for agreeing to do an interview with me. Emily began a suicide prevention movement, though they are not only a suicide prevention group, with her parents known as You Can NOT Be Replaced. At first, they ordered just 500 wristbands, but at their one year mark, they had over 14,000 wristbands circulating across the country. They run a very inspirational movement, speak at school assemblies, and do so much more. Talk about inspirational! Although September is suicide prevention month, I think that suicide prevention and Emily’s movement are important things to promote at any time of the year because you truly cannot be replaced. Please check out my interview with Emily below:

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1. Can you tell me a little bit about the movement that you and your parents started and why?

The movement that my parents and I started is called You Can NOT Be Replaced.  It focuses on the growth and strength of youth and families by promoting the irreplaceable value of each individual.  We started YCNBR after the seventh suicide that had happened in our community.  Yes, YCNBR started as a response to the suicides, but we are not only a suicide prevention group.  We like to think of ourselves as ‘up-stream’ prevention through understanding your worth and value as a person to make good choices.  Our goal is to be able to reach someone before they take the path that leads to crisis.  If we can affect at least one person where ever we go, whether its an event or a school assembly that’s all we need and that’s why we were supposed to go.

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2. How did you come up with the name You Can NOT Be Replaced?

We came up with name You Can NOT Be Replaced, the weekend after the seventh suicide. My parents and I were sitting at the dining room table talking about tragedy like we always did with each of the ones before.  I shared with them that I had this feeling like I was supposed to do something about it, but not knowing what.  Each person is so unique, their personality, talents, gifts, and when they’re gone, its forever. So I said out loud to them “Don’t they realize they can’t be replaced?”  It automatically struck me. ‘Why didn’t the boys who did commit suicide not know that?’  We decided to buy 500 wristbands to pass out to local kids. I have my graphic design certificate from high school, so I got busy on an instruction card because I knew I wanted the wristbands to be passed.  For weeks following I was bouncing off ideas from me to my parents and vice versa. We came up with, little did we know, our non-profit You Can NOT Be Replaced. Donations started coming in right away and we put up the website, Facebook, and twitter sites. Its grown from there. At one year we had 14,000 across the country.

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3. Can you tell me a little bit about how starting this movement has changed you?

This organization has changed me in every way.  Going through twelve suicides (the cluster was bigger than the students at my school) in the past five years and having so many questions that couldn’t possibly be answered was extremely frustrating for me.  But I took those experiences , took a step back and thought about what I was doing in my life. My decisions would not only affect me but the people around me, in the present but also in the future, so my choices and who I spent time with was important.  This organization has changed my thought process about those actions and has made me want to try and make a difference each day, whether big or small.

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4. What have you learned from this inspirational project you began?

I don’t know where to begin! I think I can speak for both my parents and I that we have learned an incredible amount of information and are continuing to learn new things every day.  The information that my mom and I have found on just the developing brain and the effects of substance use, exercise and food alone is fascinating. We are always striving to learn more.  But I have also learned that five simple words (You Can NOT Be Replaced) can be extremely powerful,  I would have never thought that initially.  We get emails expressing how grateful people are that someone passed them a wristband and told them that they are special in one way or another.  Some people have stopped cutting, some kids have turned bullying behavior around, it goes on and on.  Starting this organization, I guess I never  realized so many people would take that saying straight to their hearts. It really makes an impact. The  feedback from people, it makes me strive and work harder to keep pursuing and spreading the message.

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5. What would you tell someone who says that they want to start something inspiring, but are not sure that one person or just a few people can make a difference?

I never planned to start an organization.  That weekend my parents and I thought we were doing something for the community. We were ordering only a certain amount of wristbands, a onetime thing. When we kept getting donations and it just started growing very quickly, we knew we had an opportunity to make a difference.  It still sometimes doesn’t feel real to me.  But whenever I go to an event, pass a wristband, or just talk about it, I’m reminded that I love what I’m doing and I’m so grateful to be able to do it.  If someone has a passion for wanting to make a difference or to do something inspiring I highly encourage them to go for it. It doesn’t have to be huge. Small things matter and they add up to make big impacts.  They should strive for what they believe in, I know its so cliché to say ‘Whatever you put your mind to you can do,’ but it’s true.  If you have something that you want to pursue, get the right people on board and do it!

6.  How can people get involved in your movement?

People can get involved in so many ways in YCNBR; we’re always looking for people to come and get involved to spread the word.  Everyone who we have come in contact with has made a difference and affected us in a different way.  The easiest way is to get wristbands and start passing. Some people wear two, some people keep them by the door to grab on the way out, we’ve even had people load up their arms and go to events or runs and pass a whole bunch. You can have fundraisers for us, that helps us give wristbands to teens for free or go to a school for an assembly. You can use our character cards in groups. So if you’re a college student, you can do them with friends or go to high schools and offer to have a group after schools. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook or Instagram and share the quotes we put up.  If you’re local, you can volunteer with different events, tagging wristbands.  We have packets with T-shirts, wristbands, character cards, and our information that we give to pass out.  We’ll come speak at your event  or school and get  you going; they can email for information about that. Once you are finished passing your wristbands and spreading the word you come back to us and get more. When in doubt pass it! Because the wristbands are replaceable, but the person is not.  Of course send us your wristband stories!

7. Where do you hope to see your movement in five years?

In five years I’ll be out of school and hopefully working with my parents on You Can NOT Be Replaced with different events and school assemblies, talking to schools and groups.  I would love to see YCNBR expand and for us to travel around to spread the word and try to reach out to as many people as we can.

8. Where else can people go for help if they are feeling depressed or want someone to talk to?

If you are feeling depressed or want to talk to someone we have different resources on our website www.youcannotbereplaced.com , where you can locate different sources from blogs, suicide prevention websites, and other non-profit organizations, where you can find more information. Don’t keep it in! My dad tells a story about a festering wound that was covered up to get better. Don’t cover it up! Let the light and the air hit that wound and ask someone who knows your heart to help you find the help you need.  There’s always hope.

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9. Is there anything you would like to add?  

I would just like to add that you never know how far a simple act of kindness will go for someone.  So keep trying to do them because you never know who you will affect that day. That’s why we chose our quote ‘No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted’. Aesop

@UcaNOTBreplaced
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So what does everybody think?! Emily and I would love to hear your feedback.
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54 Responses to Interview with Emily Dayton

  1. hmarktaylor says:

    A great post, critical subject/issue, and effort. Congratulations, best efforts, and keep pushing ahead.

  2. Christine! What a beautiful interview! Thankyou for sharing.

    Emily – you’re doing amazing work. I wish you well for YCNBR. Beautiful stuff.

  3. We are Unreplaceable and irreplaceable

  4. You know, I recently started a writing series that I call “The Suicides.” It’s all fictional flash pieces in which someone ends their life at the end of a terrible and tragic story.

    Of course, my goal–as I’m quick to tell people–is NOT to inspire that kind of thinking, but to make people feel like they have something to identify with. I want to make people feel, and understand, that type of emotion–and, as I once did, to come to terms with it, and to continue living their life until its finally time for it to be over: to end itself all on its own terms.

    See, I spent most of my time in high school committing suicide in MY HEAD. By the end of any given day, I’d already daydreamed my death two or three dozen times. That time in life can get that way, for some. It’s an awful way to live, and I’m just glad I lived long enough to grow out of it. And I did.

    But I almost didn’t. One day, I was so depressed that I found a pistol in the cabinet. Not knowing whether it was loaded or not, I just put it in my mouth, and pulled the trigger….

    “Click.”

    What a stupid, selfish thing to have done! It wouldn’t have even killed me: the thing was a .22 calibur. I would have been a vegetable. That was about fifteen years ago, and you’re right–I couldn’t have been replaced. Having said all that, this is a really good thing you’re doing. Keep it up. I’m a supporter, even if I don’t cross you as one.

    • Thank you for sharing your story and for being so honest. I completely agree with you that you definitely could not have been replaced and truly made the right decision for yourself, along with all the people that love you. I’m sure Emily will be happy to see how you feel about your story and thank you so much again for sharing it ❤

  5. Pingback: Live Die Who Cares | Legacy

  6. Reblogged this on Oh My Blog! and commented:
    Suicide is a long term solution to a short term problem.

  7. Pingback: On getting a really good deal and then realizing that life is that and so much more. | Notes to Honor Good

  8. mcclaughry says:

    I LOVE this! And you are so right, not ONE of us is “replaceable.” You have done a wonderful thing with this. Thank you. – Virginia

  9. gracielynne62013 says:

    What a fantastic movement! Those words are so very powerful! Keep up the good work. 🙂

  10. Wow! This is great! I am so happy to see Emily and the others doing this good work! It really warms my heart. I will check out her website. thanks! Tomas ☼

  11. What a wonderful story and I LOVE the name she chose!

  12. eyekensee says:

    lovely interview… we need more of this…thank you emily (and your parents). Thank you Christine for this interview…

  13. adjpants says:

    I loved this post- what an amazing cause.

  14. Hi Christine, your interview with Emily is beautiful. Well done to Emily and her family. It’s amazing what they have achieved with their hearts right behind it. I hope it spreads like wildfire around the country to encourage anyone in that situation to ask for help. There is always an ear to listen, as most have been to a very low point in there lives so can at least comprehend what they are going through and empathise with where they are at. Go team! 🙂 Namaste

  15. Pingback: Interview with Emily Dayton by Project Light to Life | You Can NOT Be Replaced

  16. mamamlk says:

    Such an inspiring interview! It’s a topic that is so important, but not thought of as often as some others. I feel it’s too often overlooked. I love what Emily and her family are doing! Such a great non-profit!

  17. Keith Maginn says:

    Great interview, Christine. Amazing job, Emily. You are an inspiration and I applaud you and your parents. What you are doing is huge and so important. Please keep up the great work. You have found your calling and I admire you for having the courage to follow it wherever it takes you. You will go far and help a lot of people on such an important issue. Thank you.

  18. btg5885 says:

    Christine, this is outstanding and kudos to Emily. I love the concept. This is one of the reasons I have been a big supporter of holistic gun control laws and related issues – mental health, poverty, etc. There are several points that show up in the data, that I would like to research more before doing another post. Households that own guns have a higher rate of suicide than other households. Teenagers and adults who are depressed may act on an impulse if a gun is present, which ends a life. You cannot turn back time once the impulse is acted on. This more than anything is the reason for more elongated waiting periods.

    The other one is there is a higher degree of depression on college campuses than in general society. College is great, but it is not the nirvana many think it will be – you do have to work, so some get disillusioned by this. This concerns me with some states (like my own) passing laws to allow guns on campus. We are solving a sensational and tragic, but unlikely problem, with more access to guns where depression is higher. Again, it only takes an impulsive decision and it is over.

    Thanks for pushing this issue. It breaks my heart to see a young life ended. Take care, BTG

  19. sow4hope says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS!!! I will look into this organization. People need to know they matter. Thank you again.

  20. sow4hope says:

    Reblogged this on sow4hope and commented:
    I had never heard of this organization before & Christine does a great introduction here. Read & be encouraged. You Matter! You can NOT be replaced!

  21. Congratulations! I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! I so appreciate your blog and your heart to truly bring light to the darkness! Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents with the rest of us! You can check out your nomination here: http://aheartofadventure.com/2013/10/04/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

  22. swedenole13 says:

    Heartwarming and such a great organization. Everyone should know about this. The name definitely says it all! Every person matters.

  23. Wonderful post! Compassionate people who started something to allow more people to help, drive that message that not one person can ever be replaced and that that person matters. When you see and hear about more organizations like this, it gives weight to our isolated and confidential dialogues with youths (I work on a youth line)…youths can finally see that it’s not just their parents or teacher, or best friend saying they are special. One youth thanked me last week for telling her it was not normal to feel depressed day after day after day…that it was beyond being “just a teen phase”. So, organizations like this matter A LOT! Blessings, CL

  24. Judith says:

    Bravo, Emily, you touched my heart with your profound message !

  25. Thank you everyone for such thoughtful and kind comments! They really do mean so much to us and help us to keep going. Thanks to Christine for taking the time to talk with Em!

  26. dmccann67 says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. It perpetuates the notion that caring and acting can lead to making a huge difference. ~Diane

  27. hiiiii friend….. read this post…. good one dear……

    Please get some time and visit http://authorpriyank.wordpress.com

    MY DEBUT NOVEL is coming out by march / april 2014…… i generally post
    excerpts of my novel, may be poem or few lines on my blog and i prefer
    writing on social issues…. am new to blogging, …..please read my posts
    and leave your suggestions, feedbacks… help me to promote my
    novel….please share my posts and blog links with your contacts,
    please tell your friends that my novel is coming up.

    My debut novel is based on a real life inter-community love story.
    It’s not just a simple romantic love story with the typical spicy
    stuff. This love story is a voice of the Indian youth against the
    existing notions and ideologies in the Indian society against
    Inter-community love (inter-caste and inter-religion love).
    Our society, our parents, our family still believes that love with
    someone out of your community is not good. They consider it to be a
    shame for the family, a violation of the cultural values and ethics.
    Every year, more than 1000 youngsters in India either commit suicide
    or they are killed just because of the fact they fell in love outside
    their community. My novel is an appeal to our society to stop
    believing in these old thoughts and insane beliefs. The novel raises
    the concern over the problems youth face from the families (sometimes
    even the worst situation arrives) through a real life inter-community
    love tale and tries to logically, spiritually make people understand
    that love should be allowed to live free. It shouldn’t be constrained
    in the name of caste or creed.

    Hope that this issue which exists in more than 85% of Indian families
    will get a voice through my novel which will be heard, thought upon
    and then accepted in the coming years. The time has come to bring a
    changes and make this nation a safe and happy place for true lovers,
    where every true love story should be made successful.

    Thanks. hope to get your support.

    With regards
    Priyank

    email: reachpriyank29@gmail.com

    Blog: http://authorpriyank.wordpress.com/

    facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Priyank.bits

    +91 8969022973

    • Hi Priyank! I think it’s great that you wrote a novel to try and help something for the greater good. Good for you! Thank you so much for sharing your story and I will have to check it out 🙂

  28. An excellent and timely interview. Thank you for bringing this website to our attention.

  29. Emily Dayton says:

    Thank you so much to everyone for the kind words, it means so much to us! Thanks again Christine 🙂

  30. Buzz says:

    Absolutely incredible interview Christine ! I found your blog the other day and it is truly outstanding – I’ve just started mine over here in the UK (been going for about a month know) trying to find and provide some of my own inspiration, and I just adore some of the stories you’ve discovered. Will definitely reblog you sometime on The Solid Foundation blog 🙂 all the best and keep up the amazing work!

    Buzz. x

  31. Hey everyone
    We just wanted to let you know we have a new site for our talks. http://www.YCNBRtalk.com
    and we just got in leather wristbands and hoodies for Christmas 🙂

    Thanks
    Melissa

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