What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I am Brendan Webb, 22 years old, and I am a senior at the University of South Dakota (USD). I am a suicide attempt survivor.
My biological father died from brain cancer when I was just 6 months old. A few years before that, my mother also lost her father in a tragic car accident. Both losses took a toll on our family, the hardest being on my mother. My mother dated after my father’s passing, and I tried my best to connect with them to have a father figure in my life. It was tough.
Additionally, my grandfather, my mom’s father who passed away in the car accident, was in the NFL. There was a lot of pressure growing up on my brother and me to be successful at sports.
I moved from New Mexico to Kansas when I was 7 years old, and I went through a loss; I moved away from one of my mother’s long-term boyfriends, the man I looked to as a father figure. After that, middle school was difficult as I acted out a lot, not knowing the underlying mental health conditions I had.
The deeper mental health issues were junior and senior year of high school. That is when my mom really started pressuring me about sports. I started cutting, and I attempted suicide. I survived and got some help, but I really just continued to focus my time on football. My mom pushed sports on me heavily because she needed me to get to college. We were a low-income family; senior year in high school I worked to help my family pay rent.
Then, I received my first D1 scholarship summer of 2017! USD offered me a football scholarship, and that is how I ended up in South Dakota.
My freshman year went well, but during my sophomore at USD, I learned of some traumatic events that worsened my mental health. I lost three people I knew from my hometown that November. Dealing with this news, I thought about suicide.
I found clarity after driving and stopping by a river. I felt a sense of calmness come over my mind and body. I knew then I needed to seek more care.
Since then, I have completed more therapy. The COVID-19 pandemic was tough to continue therapy, but I was able to continue my appointments via telehealth, which made all the difference.
Today, I am in a better place than I was previously. With medications and me trying to practice more mindfulness techniques, I am in a good place. I like football again. I am majoring in psychology, and I want to continue my education someday to be a clinical psychologist or a professional involved with disaster response. I want to help others through difficult times, like the times I have been through.
A lot of men, especially athletes, don’t believe in mental health, but I can see that, at times, their mental health struggles. We all have mental health. I am open to talking about mental health and believe others should be too.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
The Psychological Services Center on campus.
Based on your experience, how can we work to build resilience in ourselves, our loved ones, and in our communities to better face life’s challenges?
A good way to get used to pain is to go through. I never truly want people to go through hardship but when you make it through the tunnel you become a stronger individual because of it. Though I say that, I do believe there should be people on the sideline to help. You don’t have to shoulder everything in life and have to deal with that pain by yourself.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
It’s okay. The dark thoughts that pop up in your head are scary, but you don’t have to listen to them. Randomly, you might have that thought of harming yourself, that’s completely normal when you’re in a heightened state of emotion, but what is not okay is to act upon those thoughts.