What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?
I grew up in a mixed family, which had many difficulties and struggles throughout my childhood. At age 14, riding the bus home from my first week of school, I was picked up by my stepmother. This was odd because the bus dropped me off a block away from home. I jumped in the vehicle, and she was sobbing because her son, my brother at age 16, had died by suicide when he returned home from school. My brother was living with his birth father and his stepmother at the time. I was taken aback by what had happened. We’d just seen him a few weekends before summer ended, thriving with life. No one suspected that he was struggling in his personal life, especially family matters.
As life went on, I started to notice a pattern of suicides of boys and young men in small communities. Not only did our family suffer mentally, but we also lost a brother. I was lost and angry, and my own mental health suffered.
A few years ago, my cousin, who was like a brother to me growing up, had a suicide attempt. He had reached out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, but the following day, he completed suicide. My heart sank, wishing I would have reached out to chat sooner or responded to a text message that he left me.
Today, I still have a hole in my soul, and I advocate for men’s mental health. June is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I still see today, men are put on the back burner, to hold their emotions, unable and afraid of healthy masculinity because of the society we live in today. As humans, we need a community of support for those who struggle, and who are unable to express themselves, especially men.
What resources have helped you to address this challenge?
Resources I have come across are 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, Men’s Minds Matter, and National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Think about the system that affects our mental health in our society, including aspects that are damaging to mental health and aspects of the system that improve mental health. Based on your experience, how might we improve that system to build resilience and better address the mental health needs of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities?
Building resilience is a daily choice. We are all going to have bad days; we have to stay consistent in addressing real mental health matters.
What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?
Mental health issues do not make you a terrible person, and reaching out asking for help does not make you needy.