This article was written by JTHS student Anisah Daniel to observe National Suicide Prevention Month, which is in September.

Although many view suicide as a rare occurence, it occurs more often than you might think. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 10 and 24. Why is it so common for a young person to take his or her own life? There are many factors that play into such tragedy, the most common of which is mental illness. As teens, we want to be independent and mask our struggles. Unfortunately, the stigma of having a mental health issue has caused a fear of seeking help. This negative perception of mental illness is very dangerous. Instead of seeking help, teens face the fear of rejection and choose to struggle in isolation. 

Mental illness is not an issue that one can control. One cannot simply choose to be happy while struggling with severe depression. Teens struggling with mental health issues need help. They need resources. They need professionals. They need support. They need to know that they will be supported rather than being looked down upon because of their illness. It is the responsibility of everyone to promote mental health for both young and old. Mental health awareness has been prevalent thing, especially among youth, due to the high rates of suicide. When there’s an issue that involves youth, there should be youth working to solve the issue. We are passionate about creating change and raising awareness about mental health.

My passion to raise awareness for mental health led me to founding Healthy Right, a youth-led nonprofit organization.  Our organization focuses on raising awareness for the need to make mental health resources available and accessible to the youth population. There are many resources available to help youth in crisis, yet many remain unaware that they exist.  Similarly, there are bills that, if passed, would enhance how mental health is handled in schools. However, many are not aware of these bills and how to advocate for them. Healthy Right strives to elevate the youth voice in an effort to support and prevent crises. When the youth use their voice to uplift the community, you’ll be surprised at how much they can accomplish.

So what are you waiting for? For too long, issues with mental health have been neglected. For too long, people have lost loved ones to suicide. Now, it’s time that we all work together to reduce stigma, share resources, and promote positive mental health. Preventing suicide is not just promoting crisis hotlines. It’s also not judging others, reassuring loved ones, and being kind. It’s accepting depression as a real illness rather than dismissing it as a “sadness” or “phase”. Although these actions seem small, they can go a long way. Every person deserves to live his or her life to its full potential. No one should ever feel that suicide is the only option. It never is. In a community without stigma, those suffering with mental illness will know that they are not alone. Every person needs to play a role in creating a supportive community. Together, we can fight against the mental illness that plagues our community and has taken the lives of our youth too soon.

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