Suicide is at an all time high and it’s so tough to think about. We skirt around mental health all the time like it’s a joke. We constantly label people, places, things as crazy or bipolar or schizophrenic because for some reason mental health is a punchline and it’s totally not.
In the last week two megastars have committed suicide. Two people who you would think would have it all and be happy. They were successful. They had fame, fortune, a platform to create and be seen, to change the world one episode or handbag at a time. Though I’ve never watched or read any of Anthony Bourdain’s stuff I clearly knew who he was. As for Kate Spade, I’ve been obsessing over her fine china, clothes, shoes, bags and everything else she made for years. They were two very knowable people.
So why were they so sad? Why did they choose to end it all?
The sad thing is that we don’t really know. I cried today when I found out about Anthony, not because I knew him, but because I was sad that something took him that low where he took his own life. I cried because I could identify with being that low.
I remember being so sad and so lonely. I remember sitting in this place, day in and day out, feeling like there was nothing to live for. Feeling like I had nobody who loved me or even cared about my well being. There was so much happening to and around me and I just felt lost and hopeless. I was diagnosed at a young age with anxiety and bipolar disorder but no one took it seriously. In the Black community you’re just bad or in need of a beating to set you right.
Nobody saw me. Nobody saw my pain. Nobody saw how utterly alone I felt or how unworthy I felt to even be alive.
I wanted out
And so I tried.
Waking up after each attempt was probably the most painful aspect of it all because I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to stay on a planet that I clearly wasn’t wanted on. For a long time my heart broke every single time I opened my eyes.
Every morning that I had to wake up and put on the facade of happiness. Every time I had to act indifferent to the fact that nobody saw me. Every time I went looking for love and validation only to be rejected.
I died a little inside.
I’ve grown though. I’ve become better. Stronger. I have my battle scars to remind me that I’m a fighter and that I have a purpose and that the Divine just needed me to find it. That’s not always the case for everyone though.
A lot of people get angry at those who commit suicide. I don’t. I know what it’s like to live in the darkness. In 2016 alone an estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in 2016, an estimated 10.3 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. This number represented 4.3% of all U.S. adults. And these are only the people who actually talk about their problems. However this number does not mean that they all received help. According to the same report 37% of adults with major depressive episodes did not receive help.
Millions of people are walking around depressed and even worse, untreated. And the numbers show. We notice celebrity suicides more because they impact us hard. These people are super visible and often times are who many adoring fans aspire to be like. But the hard truth is that suicide is ripping apart lives daily.
According to CNN “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.”
According to statistics on afsp.gorg, the official website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
(1) Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death
(2) Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide
(3) For every (1) successful suicides there are 25 suicide attempts
(4) On average there are 123 suicides per day
People are unhappy. People are struggling. So what can we do?
For those of you not faced with the struggle, pay attention. Reach out to your friends. Reach out to your loved ones. Check on the strong ones. Check on the ones you know are struggling. Listen. I mean really truly listen. Don’t judge. Don’t just suggest prayer. Please don’t suggest just “sucking it up”. If they could, believe me they would. Most importantly, just be there.
If you’re going through, know that you aren’t alone. There are other people who know exactly how you feel. You are never alone. Know that you are loved and that the world is a better place with you in it. Talk to someone. Don’t be afraid. There are people all over the world who will listen. Build a support system. Those will be the people who will help you get through your bitter days and celebrate you on your best.
DON’T GIVE UP
If you or anyone you know needs help please utilize the resources below:
Psychologytoday.com : online directory of therapists across the nation
.Goodtherapy.org : online directory of therapists across the nation
Therapyforblackgirls.com : online directory of therapists across the nation
.Herefortexas.com : online directory of therapists and providers across Texas for mental health and addiction.
Therapyhive.com : online directory of therapists and psychiatrists in the Dallas, Texas area
Melaninandmentalhealth.com : online directory of minority therapists across the Houston, TX area (including Bellaire, Sugarland, Cypress) and a few other cities and states
Openpathcollective.org : online directory of therapists across the nation that offer services from $30 – $50 a session
Betterhelp.com : online counseling service
Talkspace.com : online counseling service
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, press 1. Or text 838255
Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas: 214-828-1000, available 24/7
Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support across the US.
I’d like to take this moment to thank my amazing support team, my cousin who crafted this list of services and my partner in life who has seen the deepest depths of my despair and reached into the abyss to pull me out. I love you all.