By Alsherrae’ Ray
You truly never know what’s going on in someone’s life.
On July 5, 2016, I lost a friend to suicide.
He had just graduated with us a month and a half beforehand. He was always smiling, laughing and joking. He was recognized by everyone. His polo hats, his kind demeanor, his wise eyes, his friendly smile. He was truly one of the most heartfelt, respected people in our school.
When it happened, everyone immediately tried to make sense of the situation. Even his girlfriend of eight months couldn’t have guessed that he would do something this drastic. “I never knew.” “He was always so happy.” “He never ever seemed depressed.”
That’s what happens when a person becomes comfortable with pretending.
Depression is a real issue in the lives of our generation. So many students are suffering from sad spells and unhealthy thoughts because of the stress that they face. College students are particularly susceptible to falling into the seemingly never-ending pit of depression. According to Healthline, 1 in every 4 college students suffers from some form of mental illness, including depression. With so many cases of depression, it’s no wonder that a lot of college students are silent sufferers who might resort to drastic solutions like suicide.
Situations like this make it imperative to realize that a student’s mental health should be just as important as his physical health. Everyone always wants to push the need to exercise in order to avoid the dreaded Freshman Fifteen, but what about the need to have a trusted person to discuss psychological fitness?
Departments like the LGBTQ Resource Center welcome students of all sexualities and labels to Safe Spaces to discuss any sort of issues. There are also several faculty members who clearly display their Safe Space badges for students to have an outlet. There are so many resources available to students to maintain their mental health. However, what do we do about the ones who truly feel like there is no one to talk to? What about the ones who don’t want to appear vulnerable What about the ones who truly feel alone on this planet?
I challenge you to become a Safe Space for just one person. Let this person know that whatever issue they have, they can always come to you. If possible, make sure it’s a close friend. This closeness will deter any fear of vulnerability. By simply being there for that person, this can definitely help combat the lonesomeness that they feel which immediately discourages any drastic decisions.
In other words, be present and get rid of any negative ideas.
Together we can help everyone who struggle with depression. We can decrease the suicide rate and save our brothers and sisters.
“I never knew.” Will soon turn into “I know and I am helping.”
-For Russell Gaines