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    Thursday, June 20, 2024

    Dagle's family and friends have used his tragedy to help others

    It was in the wake of Brian Dagle’s suicide almost four years ago now that his friend Kevin Miao posted the following lyric from Brooks & Dunn on his Facebook page:

    "I can't quote the book, the chapter or the verse. But you can't tell me it all ends in a slow ride in hearse. I know I'm more and more convinced, the longer that I live that this can't be, no this can't be all there is."

    Miao’s posting, so prophetic, has come to embody how Brian T. Dagle’s death has encouraged a new respect for life among so many others, even people he’d never met.

    Dagle, a 2010 graduate of East Lyme High and lacrosse player there, took his life as a sophomore at Castleton State College in Vermont. There are no words. But there has been action. And since, Dagle’s family and friends have done more than keep his memory alive. They’ve kept others alive, too.

    The latest example came Tuesday night. Brian’s mom, Ann, sat at a table just off the lacrosse field at the high school telling Brian’s story through Lax4Life, a national program raising awareness for suicide prevention in young adults and adolescents.

    This comes after the numerous other programs linked to Dagle’s name, most notably the Brian T. Dagle Foundation, offering healing, hope and support to people grieving the loss of a loved one or struggling through the uncertainties of life.

    Ainsley Bryce, a close friend of Brian’s, helped organize “Team Dagle” for the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention walk at UConn, encouraging survivors to share their stories.

    On the band plays. Louder every day. It turns out that the words in Brian’s eulogy, spoken by his father, Paul, have become the de facto anthem of Brian’s legacy: Don’t ever stop loving. Paul Dagle said. Don’t ever stop reaching out. Hold on to what you have. The Dagles have made sure of that.

    “It makes it a little bit easier, I guess. Softer to know that Brian reached so many people,” Ann Irr Dagle said Tuesday night. “It helps to know we are trying to help people. Kids especially. This Lax4Life game was created because young people were taking their lives. If we can reach out and help, it seems like the right thing to do. It’s what Brian would do.”

    Perhaps because Brian’s friends remember him as the kid most full of life. Maybe that’s why there’s such passion. Many of them attended the lacrosse game Tuesday. It’s another step. Rally around Brian and the game he loved.

    “You do a lot of searching,” Ann Dagle said. “I was searching, I don’t know, whatever. I found the Lax4Life program. Gary (high school coach Gary Wight) was good enough to let me do it here (Tuesday). I want this to be an annual thing.”

    There is some glorious irony in this, how a young man who took his own life has been responsible for saving so many others. Maybe, in a small way, it helps the survivors explain the unexplainable.

    “I’m in a better pace. Not in the place where I’d like to be, but I know it will take time,” Ann said. “Sometimes, you take five steps forward and six or seven back. It’s a long, long journey. Right now there’s a little bit of an upswing and that’s a good thing. Take the momentum when you can.

    “It’s important that people know and talk about it. We didn’t talk about it because we didn’t know. I didn’t know suicide was the third-leading killer of college age kids. The statistics are crazy.”

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

    Twitter: @BCgenius

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