It’s one small word, seven letters with many different affiliations; suicide. This is something that whether we realize it or not, we are all affected by. While it is Suicide Awareness Month, it is important to be aware of not just suicide, but mental health in general throughout the year. Becoming educated on this topic can actually be quite scary, especially when statistics show you how common it is amongst our peers.
In today’s world we find ourselves being pushed past our limits, while society consistently shows us all of the different ways we are imperfect. We force ourselves to be in more and more difficult situations, increasing stress and anxiety levels; whether it be playing a competitive sport or overworking our brains to exceed a professor’s expectations.
Statistics will show you college students don’t in fact have it easy. As of today, one in every four young adults (18-24 years old) have been diagnosed with mental illness. Almost 73% of students living with mental illness conditions have experienced some form of mental crisis on campus. Out of that 73%, 34.2% didn’t know that what they were experiencing was a mental crisis.
More than 11% of college students are diagnosed with anxiety, while more than 10% are diagnosed and treated for depression. Now for the hardest facts to face; there are more than 1,000 on campus suicides each year. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 25-34 year olds and 3rd leading cause amongst 15-24 year olds.
Now let that sink in just for a minute. Every day, we sit in rooms full of strangers, each and every one of those strangers has a story. Some may be scared to tell their story, while others are willing to bring you into their world of vulnerability and struggle. Sometimes these people are the ones you least expect to be struggling, but they end up having the darkest story of the battle they fight every second of every day.
You may or may not understand their struggle of how difficult it is to take part in society every day. If you don’t, think of the person you love the most, living each day in pain because they battle their own demons. Maybe you think of a parent, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend, or even your best friend. You would want to help them right? Because honestly nothing hurts more than seeing the person you care about the most suffer.
They won’t tell you, but they are constantly thinking of giving up because they are defeated and feel hopeless. They can’t find the good in life, don’t like the way they look, or maybe have something else that makes them keep thinking of finding ways to end their life.
Trust me when I say this; we are all fighting a battle with our own demons and we must win. Whoever you are, you are never alone and you are worthy enough to win your fight.
It wasn’t long ago that I was the girl fighting her own daily fight with demons. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It affected my school work, and everyone thought it was just an attitude change, but no matter how many people surrounded me, I felt alone. I ended up feeling completely alone in the world, like there was no hope for me. I began to stop eating because I didn’t like the way I looked after being told over and over again that I was “too fat” or “not pretty enough.” It wasn’t until a person I’m glad to call one of my best friends approached me on one of my worst days , and I realized I needed help. They saw I was defeated, losing more weight than would be considered healthy, and they looked me in the eyes and saw a vulnerable, broken girl.
They only had to say one sentence to me, “You are not alone, nor will you ever be, I will fight your battles with you.” That one sentence saved my life.
Here I was, a girl, who had turned to self- harm, starvation and building walls around myself. I can’t think of how many nights I spent crying, wanting everything to end. I spent days in my room, struggling to even get out of bed because of my demons. There were a number of occasions I would think to myself, “This is it, I’m really going to do it.”
Nobody ever knew what I went through on the inside because on the outside, I was still that cheerful tomboy always making jokes and hanging out with friends. Today, I’m lucky that my best friend saved my life, for I might not be here today if it wasn’t for them.
Thank you to two of my best friends, I never knew what some of my heroes might look like.
It’s okay for me to admit I suffered with mental illness and battled with it for a long time. If I can overcome the fight and seek hope in life, you can too. Know you are NEVER alone, you are always loved. Suicide is not your only option because life will get better and asking for help does not make you a weak person.
If you or someone you know needs help, don’t be afraid to take action. You never know when you may save a life. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a 24/7 service dedicated to giving help; you can reach it at 1-(800)-273-8255.