by Colleen Baker, mental health blogger
This will be one of my most important posts so far. Suicide is a growing epidemic, made only more prominent by acts of hate and ignorance that lead to depression, loss of self, and loss of a reason to live. According to suicide.org, in 2005, we as a country lost 4,212 peers between the ages of 15 and 24 to successful suicide attempts.
The LGBT community has recently lost many individuals due to acts of hate and ignorance. It was impossible to ignore the large firestorm of hate that occurred earlier this year. Numerous LGBT deaths (specifically, five in a row at Rutgers University) occurred in fast succession, due mainly to straight ignorance. Tyler Clementi, a freshman, jumped off of the George Washington Bridge because his roommate taped him in a sexual encounter with a man. His roommate probably thought it was “hysterical” to humiliate Tyler, but in the end, he killed an innocent person. Groups promoting the wearing of purple, “You are not alone” shirts, and support for the LGBT community popped up everywhere to show the world that we are not all hateful creatures. However, hate is still everywhere. Unfortunately, people like to be ignorant and believe that their beliefs are the “right” ones, never considering the mental state of the person targeted.
Just as our world is harsh on those who don’t fit the “mold” of normalcy in their sexual orientation, hate continues on in terms of color, religion, sex, or personal appearance. It seems nearly impossible to be “perfect” in our world’s eye as ignorant people scour the population, targeting those slightly different due to something they cannot even help. Young people are starving themselves, cutting themselves, and hating themselves in order to “fit in” or feel better about the hateful words they hear. Innocent people are killing themselves, or coming close, simply because other people cannot accept anything but what they understand and know. An individual be depressed and suffer from this disease, but all it takes is one hateful comment from someone in the hallway to push them over the edge and we will lose them forever. We need to keep each other from this edge. Everyone deserves the right to happiness and freedom, but individuals who cannot seem to remove their negativity from this world are taking away people from us who we love.
In normal “crazy Colleen” form, I’m going to tell my story on this issue. I’ve talked about my depression in my youth before, but I never touched upon the issue of suicide. I remember being 10 years old, sitting at my kitchen table, waiting for my mother to return from dropping my brother off at school. It was the last day before Christmas break and I should have felt happy but all I wanted to do was cry. My mother walked in and I sat her down. “Mommy, I’ve been feeling really weird lately. I don’t know why. Sometimes I’ve been thinking to myself that maybe I should just end it. I would always laugh it off and say ‘no way.’ But last night, I was so sad and I thought it and said to myself ‘maybe that would be for the best.’”
I was terrified. Why did I want to kill myself? At age 10? From that point on for about 2 years, whenever I saw something sharp, it crossed my mind. I made myself crazy, wondering if I really did want to hurt myself or if I was just being “dramatic.” Eventually, this passed. I managed to push through, with the help of a therapist, and regain my sense of belonging to this world. I now know that this time was the beginning stages of my ultimate depression and anxiety, but as a child, it just felt like crap.
There are many reasons why people get this feeling in the pit of their stomach. Some choose to go through with it and others hold off, hoping it will go away. Luckily for me, I was just depressed or possibly affected by negative response to my overweight body, but this time passed in my life. While I unassumingly hurt myself again with my experience of bulimia, I am still here and can see that I should be here and should not let the influence of our world’s negativity push me to hurt myself anymore.
But for others, they must face a storm of ignorance and hate every single day. They will try and try to push forward, trying to listen and remaining strong, but it can all become too much to handle and the best option seems to be to just end it. This may appear to be the only way out, but I can assure you, there will be a moment when it all stops and you can see an end to this feeling. The pain and hate may never stop confronting you, but you can find a way around it. I promise. We are all members of this world, each one of us separate and different from the next. One person’s difference may be seen as a “flaw,” but who is to say that anyone is not completely perfect as they are? No one can. Be like Lady Gaga—“Don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you’re set. I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.”
Counseling Center on campus: 315-443-4715. Help is never out of reach.
Editor’s Note: What the Health Online and What the Health magazine are not licensed to give medical advice. The tips above are simply tips from a student with experience. If you are struggling with a mental disorder, please refer to your doctors to seek options that are right for you.