Reflecting on Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

Ali Smith, Arts & Lesuire Editor

Each September, awareness for mental illness is raised across our communities nationwide. However, everyday I am reminded of mental illness and the challenging aspects it brings to my life and the lives of some of my closest friends, family and strangers.

More tragically, I’m reminded of the suicide epidemic plaguing our country. This is why September is dedicated as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, where organizations, such as the National Alliance of Mental Illness, or NAMI, combat the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide and work toward a solution.

This September, I pledge to live every day to the fullest. No matter what life or my depression decides to hand me, I do this in honor of the girl I was. I do this for woman I’m becoming.

Although I’m scared and anxious to share my story, I know first-hand that every day is a struggle. If my story can help someone, my pain will, as my pastor Colby Atkins says, have purpose.

Now that I have awareness of my anxiety, depression and their triggers and causes, I realize these are issues I’ve struggle with for so long. I never confronted the deep-rooted problems in my life until I moved out of my childhood home to begin college.

At that point, I began to face my issues as a first step to managing my mental illness.

For me, it was life or death.

My uncle died by suicide in 2019. I know the impact of an untreated mental illness on families and friends. I never want the people I love to endure that kind of grief because of me.

I don’t want to live that grief.

After addressing the disorders that challenge my life, and having open, honest conversations about them, I’m better at managing my mental health. Through talking with doctors, friends, family and trusting God, I believe that no matter how impossible a day, thought or problem seemed to work through, I could do it, and some of my worst days are behind me.

This month is personal, having lost someone I love to mental illness. I almost lost myself.

I have a tattoo designed by my grandmother which reads “day by day.” It serves as a reminder for me to have compassion for myself, and that today, my best is enough.

Looking forward, I commit to spending each day of September treating myself the way I treat others— with compassion, positivity and unconditional love. I promise to be open about my mental illness in order spread awareness and destigmatize the struggles in my life and the lives of others. I promise to fill my days with as much of what makes me happy as possible. I promise to lean into hope.

I believe this practice can become a habit for me, so I can dedicate the time I would have spent battling myself and instead help others in their mental health journey.

My struggles and compassion for others with similar experiences inspires me in my profession as well, and makes me excited to be a mental-health conscious teacher in the near future.

This world is better with me in it. This world is a better place with you in it. Your story has the power to uplift others, and in turn, yourself.

Being open and honest about what you’re going through is impactful.

Having a mental health national awareness month means nothing if we don’t open up about our own struggles.

Only then can we squash the taboos and stigma surrounding mental health and suicide.

It starts by being open with loved ones and those we trust about how we are feeling.

It starts with others as well, willing to ask uncomfortable the questions: are you feeling suicidal? Are you considering self harm? How can I help?

Love yourself, take care of yourself and treat yourself with kindness. Love yourself the best you can. Open up to others.

The small things can make a world of difference, and so can you.

You are never a burden and you are not alone. I am right here with you.

“I believe depression is legitimate. But

also believe that if you don’t; exercise,

eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get

enough sleep, consume positive material,

surround yourself with support, then

you aren’t giving yourself a fighting


-Jim Carrey

On campus, Gannon students have 24/7 access to mental health care through the TimelyCare app.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.



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