PostSecret founder turns from blogging to charity

Monday, May 5, 2014 | 11:39 p.m. CDT
Frank Warren speaks Monday at the Missouri Theatre. Warren is the curator and creator of PostSecret, a website and book series featuring anonymously written postcards. Warren has received more than half a million postcards with secrets written on them.

COLUMBIA — Since he started PostSecret 10 years ago, Frank Warren has published thousands of strangers' secrets — tales of love, depression, crimes, work and just about everything else.

He might have lost interest were it not for someone's picture of a door, he said.

It was tan, wooden and strewn with fist-sized holes. "The holes are from when my mom tried knocking down my door so she could continue beating me," explained the handwriting on the picture.

More than a million people visited Warren's blog that day, and before long he had received two dozen similar postcards and even more emails.

The response helped convince him to keep going, but there was also something else: He grew up in a home of broken doors, too. So he filled out a postcard of his own, mailed it to himself and shared it with his wife.

"There are two kinds of secrets," Warren said Monday, speaking at the Missouri Theatre. "There are the secrets we keep from others, and the ones we hide from ourselves."

Warren started PostSecret in 2004 by printing 3,000 blank postcards and handing them out to strangers around Washington, D.C. Since then, he's published five books, created an app and helped write a play — and the secrets are still coming in every day.

He said he reads every secret mailed to him, and he selects a handful to share each Sunday on his blog. He has toured the world to promote his books and projects, and in 2008 he visited Jesse Auditorium at MU.

Over the years, he has raised more than $1 million for suicide prevention efforts. That includes the International Suicide Prevention Wiki, a PostSecret-curated directory of suicide-prevention hotlines, textlines and other resources. 

"Statistically, among us, in this room in the next 12 months, 25 of us will think about ending our lives," Warren said to the audience. "And 10 of you, right now, are sitting by somebody who will actually try."

At the end of the event, audience members were invited to stand and share their own secrets:

"I have high-functioning autism, and I made my first friend this year."

"My dog is the only reason I haven't tried to kill myself."

"I quit my job today because my boss didn't know my name."

"I still pee in the pool."

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