Something has been on my heart this past week and I’ve been feeling a bit bothered. Recently, Cheslie Kryst committed suicide. She was Miss USA, 30, blogger, a lawyer, a television correspondent, and all around cool chick it seemed. Before she leapt to her death, she posted on her Instagram “May this day bring you rest and peace”. I was confused when I saw that but then I found out that she killed herself.
All I kept seeing when referencing her death (and let’s face it, other people who commit suicide) is the person “was so happy” or “full of life”, “so successful” and on and on and on but like come one, no one will fake being depressed. There was nothing on her (Cheslie’s) feed that would indicate that she was depressed. They fake being happy. It keeps shocking people when someone they’re close to commits suicide because they assume they’re doing fine or that they’re happy or have everything to live for. Let me put you on some game: we’re not.
A close friend of mine recently lost a friend to suicide. She was heartbroken for sure and asked what more she could’ve done. I was honest, she did what she could. What I wish people would understand (people in general, not her…she gets it) is that when you’re in that frame of mind, when you want to end it all, its because you’re not in your might mind. You’re not thinking clearly. Your mind is telling you that you’re a burden. That everyone is better off without you.
And let’s not pretend that life is easy. Life is hard. Life is difficult. There’s a reason why we have therapists and counseling. The Bible said that these says would be “critical days hard to deal with” (2 Timothy 3:1) and for a regular person it is difficult. Add a mental illness on top of that. Add a chemical imbalance on top of that. There’s a real reason why suicides happen. According to an article the World Health Organization, one in 100 deaths worldwide is by suicide. Clearly, it’s not a small issue.
How we respond to people when they express these thoughts can make a world of difference. Personally speaking from the Black community, we have a long way to go with how we handle it. We can’t pray it away. We can’t just ignore it. In fact, when has ignoring it helped? When has ignoring our own mental health issues helped? We can’t be closed off to people or make certain ignorant comments about others who commit suicide because guess what, your loved one might see that. They may decide, wow no one understands me. They will continue to suffer in silence.
It’s part of the reason why I’m so loud about my own struggles. Yes I need a filter and I’m trying to be smarter about my posting online but it’s also to show someone hey you’re not alone. I get it. I’m right there with you. A few months ago, I posted about how I was done with life. I hated my career. I had no money. I was falling further and further in debt. I didn’t even have a place to call my own (I’m renting a room). I’m single and have no kids. I barely had food. The good majority of my friends live far from me and I felt isolated and alone. Its just me and my cat. It felt like things weren’t getting better for me and only getting worse. I was crying every single day. I was losing my mind. Each day I’d wake up, I’d want it to be night so that I didn’t have to live through the day. I was looking forward to sleep so that it can take my focus away from what was going on in my life. I wanted out! I felt like an empty shell of a person.I could not see things getting better. I thought it would be better if I was dead; that way no one would have to worry about me. I wouldn’t be a failure and a burden anymore.
How did I get out of that mindset? One of my cousins lovingly listened and corrected me and I appreciated it. I prayed and prayed. I took everything one day at a time. I wasn’t seeking attention. People started checking in on me more. Even though I paused my therapy sessions til I got back my feet, I was still able to message my therapist and let her know what was going on which helped. Is my life better? Yes. It’s slowly (and boy is it slowly) getting better.
Depression doesn’t discriminate with how much money you have or your race or age. It can happen to anyone. It’s not a temporary thing. It simply won’t go away. It can happen to those who seems like they have it all. When I heard about actress Regina King’s son and his suicide, I felt so heartbroken for her. That was her only child. Imagine how helpless she felt as a mother, who had no idea about his internal struggles.
People don’t fake being depressed. They fake bing happy. Check on all of your friends. The “happy” and “strong” ones as well as the withdrawn and isolated ones. We’re all going through it. Don’t just give out (or post) a suicide helpline number and call it a day. Please fight the urge to say that others have it worse than them (it doesn’t help). Actually help them. Talk to them. Direct them and help them get resources and help them with everyday tasks (food, quality time, help around the house, etc.) even if they say no (we don’t like being burdens on people). We need to make sure they (myself included) have real resources that can be accessed. We need to do better as a society to support those with mental health.
It takes humility to assist lowly ones in their depression. To help them. To nurse them back to health. Be understanding and approachable. If you really feel like you’re not equipped to deal with what they’re going to, lovingly direct the person to someone who will.
I talk about my mental struggles and how I’ve gotten through them in my book When the Wallflower Blooms. If you or someone you know is struggling (or just in general because not everyone will show it), get this book. It will help and give you insight.
To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454