I was on vacation in paradise when I learned of the tragic loss of Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss to suicide. I have thought about him, and the millions of others who suffer deeply behind masks of happiness and success, every day since.
I have thought of his family, and the families of the millions of others whose worlds are destroyed by mental illness, every day since.
And I keep coming back to the same thoughts, ringing like a bell in my head:
We are not there yet. We need to do more. We know better.
Although I have been a stigma fighter and mental health advocate for years,
Although I have written a memoir about my own battle with mental illness and stigma, which was meant to help others facing their own burdens and obstacles,
Although I am the founder of StigmaZero, through which I aim to help employers provide training and tools to their teams which de-mystify and de-stigmify mental health and mental illness,
I am not there yet. I need to do more. I know better.
Join me in refusing to accept another preventable loss of a bright light because we “thought they were fine.”
Join me in railing against the stigma that still exists and is at the root of so many deaths by suicide.
Would Stephen have survived if he responded to the storms in his mind the same as if his famously coordinated body suddenly stopped moving?
Would he have had a chance if he lived in a society and a world so devoid of stigma that he couldn’t even fathom NOT talking, seeking help, searching for solutions, without fear or shame?
We can never know for certain.
But I believe in my bones that his chances of not just survival, not just recovery, but thriving longevity would have been dramatically increased.
Refuse to accept the stigma of mental health, of mental illness.
Reach out to those around us who may be suffering.
And, most importantly, if you feel alone, in despair, with a future so dark and difficult you wonder if you can go on, please start talking to those around you – family, friends, doctors, mentors – and DON’T STOP until you again feel the light on your face.
You are worth it. You belong. You deserve health and happiness. Even if you can’t see it right now, it is there so don’t stop reaching for it.
Don’t stop looking for stories, resources, organizations, friends, colleagues, family members and more that can help you if you need it. They not only exist for that purpose, they desperately want to help.
I know I do. I will do more, because I know better.
**If this post resonates with you, if you think it could help anyone in any way, please share in every way you can. We need to do more.
#mentalhealthmatters #suicideprevention #suicideawareness
Founder of StigmaZero, Author & Instructor of the Create Your StigmaZero Workplace Program
I founded StigmaZero to help employers address the complex and challenging reality of mental illness stigma. We offer companies an innovative solution: our Create Your StigmaZero Workplace online program, which is designed to eliminate the negative impacts that stigma can have on your culture as well as the cost of lost productivity. This program creates real, lasting impact on your company’s ability to manage mental illness and stigma.