Northwest Missourian Opinion

Look. I’m sure I’m not the first one to tell you that mental health is a serious problem in this country and on this campus. It’s become too prolific an issue to ignore.

Take it from me. From the age of 12, I have struggled with crippling depression and anxiety. For years, I let it bottle up inside me, petrified to reach out amid my own stupid inhibitions. Only recently did I finally make the decision to admit I wasn’t sound.

One emergency room visit and countless welfare checks later, I know now that I’m not alone.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death among college students in 2017, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health. It claimed up to 15,000 lives in Missouri alone that year, per figures from the Centers for Disease Control.

In an ideal world, suicide would be completely preventable. Adequate treatment and counseling services would be readily available. State and national crisis lines would be able to keep up with the seemingly incessant volume of calls. No one would have to endure the anxiety of police officers busting down their door to talk to them. This epidemic likely would not be considered as such.

Those who struggle often loathe the idea of talking about their feelings, especially with someone other than whom they trust. In reality, they’re most likely worried about being discounted or being told that this is just a phase that will soon pass. Nobody understands them, no matter how vanilla they try to make it. The small things, like brushing your teeth, become a daily accomplishment. Eating? Forget about it — maybe one meal a day if you’re lucky enough to have the motivation to get out of bed.

Not to mention — light is toxic. We vampires prefer darkness, isolation, nothing — save for us and our inner voices. And devilish those voices are.

If a friend seems down or disinterested in most things, he or she is likely showing a red flag regarding their mental state. Perhaps they might be giving away possessions, fantasizing about taking their life, or sleeping too much or not at all. Some often abuse alcohol or drugs to help numb their pain.

Being an ally is without a doubt the most important thing a person can do to help those suffering. Be there for them. Listen to their story, making sure not to judge or blame them. If in doubt, be proactive. Reach out and ask if they need help.

I, and all others afflicted with this debilitating challenge, will thank you.

Remember, if you or someone you know is struggling, don’t be afraid. There is a way out. Call University Police at (660) 562-1254 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK anytime. You can also text “HOME” to 741741.

Your life is worth something. You are cared for. You are loved.

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