As I write this there is a “Jumper” standing on Coronado bridge, the third deadliest suicide bridge in the United States. The same bridge that I’ve crossed countless times residing in “America’s Finest City”, San Diego. It’s fabulous view has provided me with many fond memories, particularly the first time I ever drove across. It was near sunset, the sun gleaming beautifully against the deep blue water below. You can see for hundreds of miles out to sea, a sight that truly sparks curiosity and wonder as you ponder what could possibly be beneath the surface and what lies beyond the horizon. A colorful array of sail boats and houseboats floated peacefully just below the bridge. A few miles down the coast line is the North Island Naval Base where you can take in the magnificent sight of the aircraft carriers docked there, completely dwarfing everything around them. It was so warm and peaceful, something that I’ll never forget. However, that same exact bridge for hundreds of other people is a place where they decide to end their life.
Since it opened in 1969 there have been more than three hundred suicides on that bridge. There has been community ideas proposed in the past to add netting, or even a barrier to deter potential victims from jumping, yet nothing has been done. Unfortunately, mental health does not seem to be one of the top priorities for most of the United States. Every single year in the United States alone 42,773 people take their own life. I can’t help but to wonder how many of those souls could have been saved if they had a support system readily available. There are many online forms of help, but sometimes you need something more, yet thousands of people don’t have the means to afford a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. If nearly 43 thousand people die at the hands of severe mental illness, why isn’t there more affordable help offered to those who suffer this disease? Despite the lack of research and support, please know that there are people out there who care.
No matter how bad things seem at the time, no matter how deep in the hole you feel, things will get better. I won’t lie to you, it’s going to be rough. You’re not going to a have a good time, you’re going to hate yourself and everyone around you. Mental illness has the tendency to trick you into thinking that nothing matters, not even yourself. Try your hardest not to listen to those thoughts, they aren’t true. Power through. Fight that demon in your head with relentless ferocity. It’s going to take little steps at first, but I beg you to try to doing something nice for yourself every day. Give yourself a compliment in the morning when you wake up, you’re beautiful even if you don’t believe it yet. Eat that extra cookie because it tastes good, you deserve it. Celebrate the little victories, like calling the doctor’s office to make an appointment even though you were terribly anxious about doing it. Even if you don’t know it yet, you’re a warrior and you can do this.
I’ve been there, sitting in the shower crying my eyes out because I felt like I couldn’t take anymore. I’ve cried myself to sleep. I’ve self harmed because it was what I thought I deserved. I’ve pushed everyone who gave a damn away because I felt like I was a burden on their life. I’ve kept it all inside and gotten angry and defensive at the people who tried to reach out. I know self-care sounds a lot easier than it actually is, but you are not alone in this fight. Millions of human beings all over the globe battle with you, even if many choose not to voice it. Whatever situation you’re in is only temporary, and things can change in the blink of an eye. It might not be tomorrow, a month from now, or even years from now, but it will improve. Keep striving for a better understanding of yourself, keep looking for that one thing that makes you happy in life, try to find a healthy outlet for your thoughts and emotions. It could be a friend, a therapist, or even writing in a personal journal. Get it out somewhere, wherever that may be.
Never be afraid to reach out for help, please. It took me a long, long time to realize that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. To this day I struggle with it, but I try to push through that barrier as much as I can. Some days I fail, sure, but you have to get back up and try again. Just because you failed at something does not mean you are a failure, you just have to keep trying until you succeed. It’ll get easier with time. Of course, there won’t always be people around willing to give a helping hand. Unfortunately, that’s just how the world is. There are some real scum bags out there, but learning to let go of toxic people and holding on to the people who uplift you is one of the best things you could ever learn in this lifetime. The hardest part is letting go, but I assure you that once it’s over with you will feel an immense sense of relief. Once I realized that I didn’t have to carry the burden of poisonous people with me, no matter who they were (family or friend), my life was instantaneously enhanced. I had been so hung up on trying to please everyone that it was sacrificing my own happiness. I don’t know when it happened, but one day it just clicked in my brain that some people just can’t be pleased, no matter what you do. Not everyone is going to love you, and that’s okay. You don’t need to be loved by everyone, just do yourself a favor and move on with your life if someone is nasty towards you. It hurts to let go, especially if they are of close relation or if they didn’t show their true colors for a long time, but letting go is necessary for your own happiness at times. Sometimes they try crawling back into your life, but you have to remember what is best for you. Stay strong and find those who bring positivity to your life, motivate you, and make you laugh. Most importantly, stop putting everyone and everything before yourself. You matter.
It is never too late to begin the process of healing yourself. You deserve to be happy, you belong here. There is a reason you were brought into this world. I won’t pretend to know what reason that is, but I believe it. The path you are on is making you a stronger person with every step, you just have to keep going.
The “Jumper” that I spoke of earlier, according to the news, was talked down by the police. He has seemingly changed his mind, thankfully. He had hit rock bottom, but people were there to help him through it (although unfortunately not sooner). I sincerely hope that he finds whatever help he may need to fight this terrible disease. He will be in my thoughts tonight, as will every person who struggles with mental illness.
If you know and genuinely care for someone who fights against suicidal thoughts, depression, or any other form of mental illness don’t be afraid to reach out. Check up on them once in a while, listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to solve their problem, just listening and understanding is enough. Be patient with them. If they don’t want to talk, just assure them that you are there any time they need. Continue to show that you care and tell them that you love them. Your involvement makes a difference. One person’s thoughtfulness could save a life.
If you yourself suffer, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I know words are wind, but I believe in you and I care for you. I may not know you and you may not know me, but I care about you and your well-being. Myself and everyone involved with Social-Discourse hope to raise mental health awareness in whatever way possible. If you don’t have someone you feel comfortable reaching out to, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here for you, we fight for you, and we understand.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a wonderful support system for everyone that is affected. (https://afsp.org/find-support/)
If you ever feel like you need to talk to someone right away, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always open. 1-800-273-8255. (http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#)
Life is worth living, I promise it gets better. Happiness is out there, keep searching.