This is going to be one of the hardest things I have written but I want to have this conversation. I think it is really important to talk about topics that are uncomfortable. They are usually ones the conversations that need to be had. Over the past few years, or even just in 2018, we have dealt with a lot of death of individuals in the public eye. John McCain, Stephen Hawking and Arethra Franklin had passed due to illnesses and the world felt the lost. But I want to talk about deaths of people who didn’t necessarily die of natural causes. Today, we lost Mac Miller to an addiction. Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and Avicii took their lives. It is absolutely tragic. I absolutely feel for their families and loved ones. But here is my thoughts with it. When someone commits suicide who is famous or well known, people come out of the woodwork to give their condolences and prayers. Yes that is appreciated, but why do we have to only do this when someone famous dies. Why can’t we talk about the mental health epidemic that we have in our country? These are conversations that we need to continue to have all the time, not just when a celebrity dies. There are so many people who commit or try to commit suicide every year unfortunately. It is absolutely tragic but we need to keep the conversations going and open. We can’t just let the momentum and drive to get people talking and provide resources that can help just fade away as another news story breaks. We have to fight for the people whose stories aren’t told. Sometimes, I think people just don’t realize the impact a suicide has and how people get to that point. For someone who has never experienced suicide, Kate Spade taking her life is sad but they don’t always understand the loss since the person was so far removed from them. It is when you experience suicide in your personal life that you can begin to comprehend the significance and heartbreak it causes. I don’t ever want anyone to lose someone to suicide, but most people will throughout their life. A few months ago, an ASU football player took his life. While I never met him, he was part of my community. He was a sun devil like me. It hurt that someone who went to the same school as me took his life. I saw people in my community grieve and begin to understand the complexity of what happened and the hole he left now that he is gone. This year, we also lost people to drugs and other addictions. It is just as tragic because addiction is a disease, just like depression. People don’t understand how hard it is to face an illness of the mind. It doesn’t just exist without having physical consequences. We have a problem in this country with addictions and glorifying drugs and alcohol. This needs to change. We have to admit that we have epidemics of mental health disorders and addiction in this country. People need to be more open to understanding someone else’s struggles. Offer help, find resources, be a friend. If you think that someone who tries to kill themselves is selfish or trying to get attention, you have no compassion. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it is real. If you get anything out of reading this, that is what I want it to be.
For myself, I hate seeing any deaths, especially those who died to young. As someone who has struggled for a long time with depression, I feel it in my soul. I know how low and hopeless you feel. I understand how hurtful it is when people don’t believe you or tell you just get over it. My heart just hurts when I see something on the news that someone took their life due to a mental illness. Mental health disorders do not discriminate. They can affect anyone, no matter their status, fame, wealth or profession. To anyone out there who is suffering from a mental health disorder, you are not alone. There are resources out there to help you and listen and believe you. If you don’t have a friend who can be a support system, there are so many people out there who can be. I always open my communication to be someone to talk to if friends, coworkers, students or anyone needs it. It breaks my heart thinking people are out there going through this alone. I will stand with you on this journey. To all of the people we lost in 2018 due to mental health disorders, I hope that you are resting easy. To the families, friends and loved ones, I have no words that could express the deepest of my thoughts, condolences and prayers. We have a problem and it is time for us to take action.