Why I Write About Mental Illness and Suicide
I would love to be writing more on this blog. I have a wonderful platform and chance to educate people on mental illness and suicide, yet I feel as though I have wasted my first two months of this opportunity. Truthfully, I am completely overwhelmed. I feel under-qualified. I’m worried I will say the wrong thing or give false information. The largest barrier, though, is that this is hard for me to talk about.
As much as I try to discuss mental health and raise awareness on a regular basis, it’s still a challenge for me. This is personal. During my junior year of high school, my classmate died from suicide. I felt a deep sense of guilt and confusion surrounding the event. “Why did this happen?” and “What should I have done?” are questions I continue to ask myself today. This past summer, my best friend’s mom died from suicide. Supporting my friend and mourning her mother’s loss is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I want to be able to empathize with my friend and understand what she is going through, but I will never truly be able to feel what she does. That fact causes me to feel both deeply grateful and incredibly guilty.
When I think of mental illness and suicide I feel angry, confused, devastated, defeated, and, finally, passionate. So, among all of those other awful feelings, I will focus on my passion. My passion to educate my community on how to talk about and combat mental illness. My passion to reduce death from suicide. My passion to understand this horrific, confusing, painful topic.
Today I will focus on one tiny thing we can do to better talk about this overwhelming subject: When talking about a suicide death,use the words “died from suicide.” That is how we talk about any other death, such as “died from a heart attack” or “died from cancer.” Using the words “committed suicide” brings us back to a time when suicide was a criminal offense. It never should have been considered a crime, and it no longer is today.
Please do your best to say “died by suicide” and correct others when they use different language. If you come from a place of understanding and good intent, people will appreciate your effort to help them learn something.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for being patient with me as I balance my passion for this topic with all of the other feelings it brings along. Thank you for sharing my passion to better understand mental illness and suicide. Together, we are ending the silence.
Follow along (subscribe here) for the next few months as I explore the broad topic of mental health, the stigma surrounding it, and what you can do to help.