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Mato James Abourezk

“I thought to myself, 'I didn't fight that hard my WHOLE life just to give up now.' So I didn't.” 
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City: Rapid City, SD

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

I had to deal with recovery from surgeries from age 5 to 15. This wasn’t exactly an ideal way to grow up. Because of this, I developed anxiety and depression at a young age, but it wasn’t until I was 19 going to college at Black Hills State University that I had thoughts of suicide and attempted to end my life. All my feelings ambushed me. I was away from home, I hadn’t gotten over surgeries and what I had been through, I hadn’t accepted myself and who I wanted to be. I was alone.

Then I was told a story by my mom about how I should’ve died when I was born but I didn’t, that I was supposed to be a vegetable my whole life, but I wasn’t. This hit me hard, because I thought to myself, “I didn’t fight that hard my WHOLE life just to give up now.” So I didn’t. I kept moving toward my goals of being in the entertainment industry and having a family. I am now in a place where it looks like I’ll be in the entertainment industry, and I have just recently gotten engaged. This is my story. I am resilient.


What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

I would say a support system consisting of my family, friends, and mentors helped me climb out of my hole. I began going to counseling and hanging out with family and friends more often, whether it was through the Boys Health Program at YFS or just a family dinner. I had support and understanding from them. 


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? 

It may sound cliché, but I think belief in one’s self and recognizing one’s potential as a person goes a long way. The problem is that it’s hard to see that in ourselves because we are so self-conscious, so if we point that out to our loved ones, it can really help a person be confident in what they can do. This leads to pushing a person past what they previously thought they could reach. 


What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

You are NOT alone. You are LOVED. You are HEARD. 


In crisis?

Call or text 988.

Mato's Resources


The Lost&Found Association came to life in 2010 thanks to a team of soon-to-be college students committed to making a difference in the lives of peers struggling with depression and suicide.

Today, Lost&Found is a growing education and advocacy nonprofit that serves students on 15 college campuses, offering resilience-building programming and connecting students in need with support communities.