LivingWorks, I’m back! To some, it may feel like I never left. I guess I really haven’t left… I know this is confusing, so let me start at the beginning.
My name is Khari Jones. I had the great fortune of playing professional football for 11 years, nine of those years in the Canadian Football League. After the 2005 season, at the ripe old age of 34, I retired from football. I knew I needed a small break from football before I started coaching, so for the next three years I spent my time as a broadcaster and actor (I studied drama in college). As an actor, I booked some voiceover gigs, commercials, and small roles in TV movies. But my most meaningful role was that of a co-trainer for LivingWorks safeTALK, a half-day suicide prevention workshop.
I remember working on the safeTALK videos and realizing this was much more than an acting job. It felt personal to me; I related to the message; I felt it was important. I am proud to have played a role in safeTALK. Imagine my surprise when I found out that LivingWorks continues to use those same videos! Over 500,000 people have seen training videos over the last 14 years. From what I have been told, in-class trainers refer to me as “our friend Khari” - almost like I’m in the room with them.
I got a glimpse of how far these videos have reached people firsthand a few years ago. I was coaching for the BC Lions and we were staying in a hotel in Burlington, Ontario, for our game in Toronto the next day. At the breakfast buffet, I saw a young man staring at me and smiling. I immediately thought, “He must know me from football,” and I say “Hi.”
He asks, “Are you Khari Jones?”
“Yes, I am.”
To my surprise, he reaches out to give me a big hug. He explained that he was there for a LivingWorks suicide prevention training session and he had just been watching me on safeTALK. They were on a break, so he brought me in to their session. The room was full of about 25 people and they were surprised to see me there in person, and they greeted me like an old friend. I don’t remember if we won or lost the game the next day, but I will always remember the faces of the people in that room. What they were learning is important, and I am so proud to have played a small part in this group and other groups’ suicide prevention training.
And now I’m back. I am the Head Coach of the Montreal Alouettes, I have a wonderful family, and this is the perfect time to reconnect with this life-changing organization.
I am working as an ambassador with LivingWorks to promote LivingWorks Start, a program that will literally save lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 800,000 people die by suicide each year. This online training program will benefit your life and the lives of those around you. I want to encourage everyone reading this to find it here, buy it, and watch it.
In my next blog post, I will share with you all why this is so important to me – how suicide has affected me personally and why I wish I had found the LivingWorks Start program sooner.
But for now, I just want to say how happy I am to lend a hand to this noble cause again. Please watch for social media posts, blogs, and interviews from me in the coming weeks. I’m proud to be back.