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When Suicide Shows Up On Your Doorstep

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I pulled the covers over my head. I put my hands over my ears. The thoughts were so loud. With tears streaming down my face, I could barely see as I picked up my phone to text the only person I knew could help me at this moment.

“No one loves you.”

“You don’t matter.”

“You should just take your life.”

These were the thoughts constantly repeating themselves in my mind.

I had never had thoughts like this before. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.

How would you handle a situation where suicide shows up on your doorstep? Maybe your situation isn’t as personal as mine, but maybe it’s a friend, a family member, a random stranger that comes calling out to you for help. What do you do?

Statistics show that suicide is the 16th leading cause of death for African-Americans of all ages and is the 3rd leading cause of death of young black males ages 15-24. Suicide has been deemed by some as the “easy way out” but if you only knew that for some people it may be the only way out. The only way out of the negative thoughts. The only way out from people who don’t take them seriously. The only way out from the issues that have plagued them for so long.

Suicide can show up in different forms.

Sometimes it will show up and be very direct. Other times it will show up as sad and hopeless. Other times it will show up with a happy exterior but an interior that has already let go. No matter how it shows up, be there for that person. Don’t brush them off. Encourage them to get the help that they need.

Suicide affects people of all ages, races, genders, and occupations. If you or someone you know is battling with suicide, please contact someone immediately for help. Make sure you take it seriously when suicide shows up on your doorstep.

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(Black) Mental Health Matters: My Mental Health Matters

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For the last five years, I have worked in the mental health field.  Being young and new in the field, it was hard for me to understand how people could be seeking “treatment” for their mental health while not really accepting the fact that they had an “issue.”  I just didn’t make sense.

That is….until I had to confront my own mental health issues. 

Let me set the stage:  February 11, 2013 I went in for what I thought would be a normal 4 week check up with my ob-gyn but this appointment wasn’t so normal.  The words, “I can’t find your baby’s heartbeat” fell off her lips so effortlessly.  After multiple attempts with the Doppler and multiple ultrasounds, she confirmed my worst fears; my baby was no longer alive.

The next week was hard, as I had to prepare myself for surgery.  The surgery came and went and I quickly made my life return to normal.  The doctor wrote me off of work for four weeks, I went back in two.  I thought I could force myself back to normalcy.

But I couldn’t. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, I found myself battling tears almost daily, I felt worthless, hopeless, some days I just felt like giving completely up.

And it wasn’t until I was meeting with a pastor for another situation that I was encouraged to seek counseling.  But how could the person giving help to people with mental health issues need help for her own mental health issues?

Something that I struggled with then, that I still sometimes struggle with now, is that I have to take care of myself first.  But I was so fearful of the stigma that comes with mental health that I was slowly killing myself mentally and emotionally.

All too often, it seems that mental health is the forbidden topic, especially in the black community.  We feel that if we don’t talk about then just maybe it doesn’t seem to exist. And even if we do talk about it, it’s just a temporary situation and “eventually” it will go away. And for some it will, but for many others it won’t and it will take things like counseling/therapy, medication, but most importantly acceptance of your issue along with the support of family and friends for things to get better.

It took a long time to realize that my mental health matters.  I had to realize I can’t others if I can’t help myself.  Recognize that your mental health matters.  Don’t let stigma and fear keep you from being the best you you’re supposed to be.  Your mental health matters, too.

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