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Nikki Eining

“So many people showed up at a time they did not have to, or when it was not part of their job description. It saved my life.”
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City: Brookings, SD

Age: 38

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

On the first day of my sophomore year of high school, my best friend was killed in a head-on car collision. Two months later, my father had a brain aneurysm and was hospitalized for 31 days. That same year, in December, we lost my aunt to breast cancer. At 15, I was surrounded by death, loss, and grief, with no ability to process or understand why all of these things that were out of my control had occurred. With a history of experiencing maltreatment, this loss was devastating and allconsuming. I remember not wanting to go to school, not wanting to go to my job, and beginning to give up. I had quit things I enjoyedextracurricular activities, athletics, and more.  

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

Safe and supportive relationships. My friends, friends’ parents, neighbors, and aunts and uncles supported me when my parents were at the hospital for those 31 days. My student resource officerwho went above and beyond his job description was the one to tell me about my best friends accident and supported our class during such a difficult time. Teachers rallied for us to take care of one another. One day in the spring, following the fall when all of these losses occurred, I was at home having thoughts of what is the point anymore, and my SRO showed up and talked to me about not giving up on myself and even helped get me to school that day. I remember being in geography class and my friend telling our teacher, who was my golf coach, to let me rejoin the team because I needed it. So many people showed up at a time they did not have to, or when it was not part of their job description. It saved my life. 


Think about the system that affects our mental health in our society, including aspects that are damaging to mental health and aspects of the system that improve mental health. Based on your experience, how might we improve that system to build resilience and better address the mental health needs of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities?

We have to prioritize relationships over following the rules and complacency. We have to prioritize relationships over economic brackets and cliques. The potential in each of us is worth protecting. It takes safe, supportive, and appropriately challenging adults and peers to help us reach our potential when there are factors hindering it. 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

Our choice in how we show up in our relationships and our interactions with others matters. Greatly. 


In crisis?

Call or text 988.

Nikki's Resources


The Lost&Found Association came to life in 2010 thanks to a team of soon-to-be college students committed to making a difference in the lives of peers struggling with depression and suicide.

Today, Lost&Found is a growing education and advocacy nonprofit that serves students on 15 college campuses, offering resilience-building programming and connecting students in need with support communities.