SD-based anti-suicide group mourns death of founder
Dennis John “DJ” Crawley-Smith, founder and early president of Lost&Found, died of brain cancer Monday at his home in Seattle, according to a news release from the organization. He was 30 years old.
Lost&Found is a South Dakota-based organization working to eliminate suicide among young adults by partnering with community leaders, training advocates, providing education and measuring outcomes.
Crawley-Smith grew up in Mitchell. His experience with mental health stigma and stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community fueled his motivation to help others at a young age.
Lost&Found started in 2008 as a Facebook network with a wish to “do more” to prevent suicide. In a year, that Facebook group grew to more than 3,600 members.
Crawley-Smith was in high school at the time.
“At the heart of this project was that we as a community can be better to our neighbors and friends to prevent mental health issues all while attempting to reduce the stigma surrounding it.”
After graduating in 2010, Crawley-Smith brought together friends from the Mitchell area to form the initial Lost&Found organization.
Then, after graduating from USD, Crawley-Smith joined the Peace Corps in 2015, serving in Tanzania for nearly two years until an emerging health condition — later diagnosed as brain cancer — brought him back to the United States.
Upon his return stateside, Crawley-Smith served briefly as a teacher in the Mitchell School District before completing a master's degree at the University of Washington.
Crawley-Smith then served as a census field supervisor for the U.S. Census Bureau. He married his husband, Ben Crawley, on Aug. 6, 2021.
Mourning his death are his husband; his parents, Pat and Veronnica Smith; his siblings, Shea, Emmy and Andrew; and many family members and friends.