I write a lot about my 13 year-old daughter, Fiona, and her struggle with mental illness. She actually does a lot of writing herself, so today I share with you something she wrote for her school newspaper.
By Fiona Allen
About 40,000 people will commit suicide this year. That’s the same amount of people that will die of breast cancer this year. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2030 suicide deaths, which are most commonly caused by depression, will outweigh the number of deaths from stroke, cancer, accidents and even war.
Today I am here to talk to you about mental health awareness and the lack of it. We talk about breast cancer often. You probably know the awareness ribbon is pink. Right? But can you guess what color suicide, mental health or self-harm ribbons are? Not very many people talk about mental health or suicide. The ribbon color for suicide is yellow. The awareness ribbon color for mental health is green, and the awareness color for self-injury is orange.
The reason that we don’t have much awareness for mental health issues is because it’s taboo to talk about mental illness in our society. Is also seen as “not a real issue”. Mental illness is an illness just a serious-if not more serious-than other illnesses that receive a whole awareness month.
Kids all around us that are our age are suffering and dying from mental illness on a daily basis. In fact about every 15 minutes somebody dies from suicide, and that does not include the kids who are passing away because of anorexia or those attempting to kill themselves. It’s a scary thing to look at. It’s scary to think about too, but I challenge you to look at it and to make a stand about it.
If you suffer from a mental illness you can get help and get treatment. If you’re feeling like you’re going to kill yourself please, PLEASE call this number-it’s the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
Talk to your parents or another trusted adult about your feelings. I know it’s so hard because I’ve been through it before myself. But I know you can do this.
I would like to challenge all of you guys out there to spread awareness for these horrible disorders. I challenge you to wear a ribbon or a shirt that’s one of these colors (yellow, orange or green) every Tuesday. In our school we need to not only stand up against bullying, but we also need to stand up for mental health disorders.
I also challenge you to try to make somebody feel better. Be kind. Be friendly. Just try to lighten up someone’s day. And I challenge all those folks out there that are suffering to stay strong. You can do this. I’m so proud of you.