There's a social media campaign going on right now called Time to Change. Its main focus is to end mental health discrimination. So right now, I want you to eliminate the stigmas you have in your head about mental illness. Forget what you know because, chances are, you don't know as much as you think you do.
Take my friend, Mike for instance, pictured in the center here:
It's so easy to jump to the conclusion that people who commit suicide simply don't know how much they're valued by their loved ones. Or we can't understand their deaths because they had so much "going for them." But the fact is, when you're in a frame of mind where suicide is a logical solution, none of that matters. It doesn't matter how much we're loved, how much success we've obtained, how much money we have or how many lives we've touched. All that matters is finding a way to stop hurting and for some of us, death seems like the only solution. It's not that we want to die, really. It's more like we just don't want to be alive, because alive = pain. And that pain seems never-ending.
I don't pretend to know every thought my friends had before their deaths, but I do know my own thoughts. And voicing these feelings in a public spotlight is the scariest thing I've ever done. For someone with anxiety, the last thing I want is attention focused on me; I know what people will think. I know what they'll say. And I know the assumptions that will be made. But if we want to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide, we have to start talking about it. We have to erase the stigmas, forget what we've heard, and we have to fucking talk about it.
This isn't a problem we can throw money at in hopes of finding a cure. Mental illness doesn't work like that. It takes being down in the trenches and getting soaked to the skin before you can make a difference. Will you do it?
Mike needed this. Nate needed this. Chris needed this. I need this.
If someone you know shows signs of depression, has thoughts of suicide or you've noticed they're just not dealing with the stress of life quite as easily as they used to, please reach out to them. Be an ear, be a shoulder, be a friend. If you can't help them carry their burdens, encourage them get in touch with someone who can: a therapist, a doctor, a mental health support group, or all of the above.
If you are having trouble getting through your day and thoughts of dying seem more promising than thoughts of living, please talk to someone. If nothing else, find help here:
National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
* My deepest gratitude to the McBride, Estimada, and Tully families for allowing me to honor your loved ones in this small way. As always, I pray for peace and comfort for your families.