It is hard to describe how I feel upon hearing the news: first, OH NO, NOT ANOTHER YOUNG LIFE! then deep heartache in thinking about the intense pain of the poor mother and the terrible grief journey the families must now endure.
And it brings it all up again for me.
In a twitter feed that mourned the loss of one of the girls, a video called "What if I killed myself…" was posted. Here is a description: "This video is produced by 1VoiceInside for Suicide Prevention Month. Hopefully this video helps to de-stigmatize suicide and opens people's minds to the true helplessness and hopelessness that mental illness induces."
A young man shares about his battle with depression and suicidal ideation. Thankfully his attempt did not succeed and he courageously tells his story. The first time I saw the video, my heart flipped because his basketball jersey number was #33, which was Josh's football jersey number.
His message is so important as kids need to know that they are not alone, On June 5th of this year, the Josh Anderson Foundation (JAF) co-sponsored a Teen-To-Teen Mental Health Summit where 5 kids also courageously shared their stories. This successful program is one that we want to repeat and multiply - view post to see video and learn more.
As a society and in our communities and families, there MUST be a paradigm shift in how we view mental illness. I long for the day when we have the same understanding and empathy towards a kid suffering from a mental illness like clinical depression as if he/she were a diabetic. Both kids need to manage their illnesses (medication, activities, etc) to avoid the devastating and affects of the disease. And if they don't, the consequences could be fatal.
Yet today, in middle and high schools across America, the kid struggling with a mental health issue feels isolated due to the stigma. They cannot be real and open about what is really going on inside because of fear…fear of what people will think, what they will say, how they will be treated.
No kid should have to live in shame and fear.
No kid should have to suffer in silence.
No kid should have to feel like suicide is their only viable option.
RIP Josh and all the others who are in my heart.