Suicide needs open discussion

Elise Goubet

In the United States, a broken, hurting person commits suicide nearly every 13 minutes. Twice in my life I was almost one of them. Yes, I am outing myself. I am a survivor of suicide. For years, I lived in a place of darkness, shadows and prison walls built with my own hands. I am grateful beyond words for my opportunity at a second (and third) chance. I have scars on my body that will never fully fade, constant proof of the self-hatred I felt towards myself. I spent years seeking and finding ways to escape who I was, to forget myself, to forget the awful person I believed myself to be. I binged. I purged. I starved. I cut. I drank. I lived behind a wall of self-hatred and loathing, where there was no joy, where I gave myself no chance to succeed.

At the ripe old age of 22, I had to learn to love myself. It has not been easy – far from it. I would not be here today if it were not for my loving family and friends, who stood by me at my worst through the years I put myself and them through hell. I have bipolar I disorder and spent four long years suffering from an eating disorder. With therapy, medication, family, friends and above all else, love, I have been able to emerge from those shadows. I have found a life worth living, a drive and a purpose. My goal is to spend my life doing research on eating disorders, self-injury and suicide. I hope to take those years of darkness and funnel them into something that may make a difference in other people’s lives. I am not ashamed of my past. I spent years being ashamed of myself and who I was.

I have had enough. By speaking openly and candidly about my mental illness, I hope I have begun to chip away at the wall we have put around discussing mental health issues. But I am just one voice. We need more. Let’s talk about suicide. Let’s talk about mental illness. If you have a friend who you think may be suicidal, talk to them. One common myth about suicide is that talking to someone about it will make them want to do it more. This could not be farther from the truth.

If you are feeling suicidal do not be afraid to reach out, call The University of Alabama Counseling Center and set up an appointment. If you actively have a plan, this is the time to call 911 and seek immediate treatment.

Let’s start a dialogue about suicide and mental illness. Support the American Suicide Prevention Foundation and The University of Alabama’s National Alliance on Mental Illness. Help us break the silence.

Elise Goubet is the president of the National Association on Mental Illness. NAMI-Connections Support group meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. in Gordon Palmer 351.