IN MEMORY OF BEN LONGLEY
Ben Longley was born on March 18, 1998, in Harare Zimbabwe. He was the only son of Paul and Leigh and younger brother to Emma and Kirsty. In 2004, at the age of five, Ben moved with his family to the USA and Sioux Falls became his hometown.
For 22 years Ben was a kind, loving, loyal and fun-loving son, brother and friend. He had a thirst for knowledge and knew so many random facts on so many topics. It was this quest to know more about people, places and things that led to hours of debating with both his family and friends.
In April 2019, Ben started showing signs of a mental illness that shocked and ultimately rocked the world for all of us that knew and loved Ben. He fought so hard to find the answers to what was happening to him; however, the internal struggle and lack of a clear medical diagnosis, became too much. On July 21, 2020, Ben took his life.
This tournament is held in memory of Ben, the beloved and missed son, brother and friend, but it is more about bringing hope to the thousands of other men, women and children who find themselves struggling with mental health issues.
March 18, 1998 to July 21, 2020
Ben’s parents’ experiences have given them a perspective of what is working in the mental health ecosystem and what really needs to be improved. One resource that was helpful to the Longleys was a program called OnTrack that worked to help young adults who have had a psychotic break prevent a reoccurrence. Another helpful program was Avera Health’s rehabilitation program for alcoholism and drug addiction. After Ben’s suicide, they also received caring support from friends and members of the clergy.
One area where improvement needs to be made is creating resources and educational training so friends and family can help loved ones struggling. Providing basic training for recognizing issues and referring people to resources, as well as basics of self-care, could be included in the curriculum at universities.
We hope this golf tournament will continue the conversation pushing for better mental health outcomes for young adults.
Ben would be so proud to know his fight for answers is being continued and his thanks would be endless!