Zia Larson’s Ray of Light Foundation was founded in October 2016 as a non-profit organization inspired by the love of a mother to reverence the life of her son. Zia pronounced (ZIY-aa) is a name of Arabic origin with the meaning ‘light, splendor, glow’. As such, the Ray of Light Foundation was conceived within the grieving spirit of Ms. Verneta Seaton to honor the legacy of her deceased son.
Zia was born on September 13, 1988 in Seattle Washington. His name truly personifies the very essence of his existence. His beaming smile and laid back personality brought ‘light’ to all those that knew him. He was an avid soccer player, taught swimming at the Washington Athletic Club and was a Lifeguard for the City of Seattle. His creative soul blossomed through his artistic talents. He graduated from the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.
Zia was diagnosed with schizophrenia during his freshman year at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. When living with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder there is a battle either to maintain sanity or to keep from losing it. Zia is a casualty of the battle that waged within him. On April 24, 2010 he succumbed to the mental anguish associated with the disease and died by suicide.
Many individuals and their families suffer in silence with mental illness. Quite often they are too ashamed to share their struggles. Many fear the branding of the stigma that society often assigns to those who struggle with mental disease. Others are uncertain or afraid to ask for help or for support in their struggles. A staggering number resort to actions that result in denial, social isolation, social confusion and years of suffering or untimely death.
Our society tends to recognize and reward individuals for self-reliance. Yet, the reality is that all of us, at many junctures in our lives, need support and encouragement so that we do not lose our way on our life journey. Interdependence is not a sign of weakness or frailty. To the contrary, there is power in unity.
Zia Larson’s Ray of Light Foundation intends to inspire hope for those in need of help as they struggle with mental disease and to encourage society to unite and confront our need for mental health solutions.