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It Shouldn't Take a Tragedy to Spark a Conversation About Suicide

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With the recent suicides of people like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, I feel it’s important to talk openly about suicide.

We shouldn’t only be talking about suicide because someone has lost their life — we should be talking about it beforehand. There is such a stigma with suicide, having suicidal thoughts or self-harm. “It’s selfish,” people say. “It only creates more pain for those around you.” And while I do agree suicide hurts those who love and care about you, I don’t feel shamming someone into living is the best way to go about helping them. If you’ve never felt suicidal, I imagine this can be impossible to understand.

That’s half the battle though, trying to get people to understand.

It is so incredibly difficult to explain and to let someone know what you are feeling. We don’t want to feel embarrassed, or judged. It’s not like we want to feel suicidal. It’s not like we want to have to tell those we love that them loving us just isn’t enough to make these feelings go away. We don’t want to hurt anyone with our thoughts or actions, and a lot of the time, we don’t want to hurt ourselves; we just want whatever pain we are in to go away.

A lot of times we don’t know how to tell you this, or who to tell. We might fear the stigma around medication, therapy and being hospitalized. I know I did. When I was 16 I tried to kill myself for the first time, and honestly, I wasn’t sure I was happy I had lived. I was hospitalized, sent to therapy and put on medication. I was closed off when anyone asked me how I was doing. I didn’t want them to worry I might hurt myself again.

I am 22 now, and since then have been hospitalized many times for suicide attempts and for the fear I might act on it. At 18, I became vocal about my issues with anxiety, depression, bipolar and self-harm and what I got out of it was amazing. I found out that people I went to high school with also had mental health issues they struggled with, and they were very supportive. I found people I didn’t even know really appreciated my openness about mental health and it had an impact on them. Of course, not everyone is going to understand, some people don’t want to and some people are just mean when it comes to mental health issues. I won’t lie and say those who have said negative things to me, like telling me to kill myself, didn’t hurt. It did, and it made me think about doing it, but I found something in myself that makes me want to live.

People are unreliable, they leave. It’s critical to find something in yourself. Something inside you on the darkest day of your life that just kicks you in the ass and tells you to keep going. I believe talking and getting treatment are just as critical. I know how hard it can be to even leave the house sometimes, to get to therapy, to talk and be open with someone. That’s why the Crisis Text Line (741-741) is amazing, as well as the Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255). Both are confidential, available 24/7 and filled with people who just want to help. I find it increasingly important that more people are aware of these tools that can help them in a crisis. Everyone should be aware of the help that is out there and should know that it’s OK to not be OK. People like Lady Gaga, Kesha, Prince Harry and many other celebrities have spoken out about their mental health issues, and you should feel the same freedom to do so. It shouldn’t take the death of someone by suicide to spark a conversation about suicide.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Lead photo via Linkin Park’s Facebook page

Originally published: July 22, 2017
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