By Jocelyn Turner
AMHERST – She remembers the blackness surrounding her, dragging her in, bombarding her with dark thoughts, chilling thoughts. Thoughts of suicide.
It’s not a happy story, knowing you’re sinking into that dark place, a place that’s hard to get out of but there’s where this young woman went, who will be referred to as Bailey.
“It was when I got to high school that everything changed,” said Bailey. “I was losing weight, losing my hair, never had any energy and just didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning.”
Cumberland Mental Health Services Dominic Boyd said Bailey is not alone.
“There are various pressures that teens face and their ability to face those pressures in terms of finding work, finding a mate, or partner, further education and so on,” said Boyd. “They’re going to fail sometimes and they need to learn from failure.”
Bailey said she was scared when school finished; she had no motivation.
“Everyone else seemed to know what they wanted to do and I was stuck in this rut where I didn’t want to do anything. I just sunk deeper and deeper into that black hole.”
Boyd said there are programs such as Roots of Empathy and Emotional Intelligence geared towards helping people with dangerous thoughts.
“These are certainly things that we need to keep fostering in terms of helping young people to grow up with the ability to have a healthy self esteem where they realize that they need to value themselves and take care of themselves and also be able to reach out to others and provide nurturing and loving support for others and have good and healthy relationships with others.”
Bailey said that getting help was really the first step to recovery, but also the hardest.
“It was when I went away to college. That’s when it was the worst. I would be thinking about it all the time,” said Bailey. “I would call my mom and she would know something was wrong but she was like four hours away. But it was just by chance that one day, one of my classmates opened up about his own struggle with suicide and that’s when I knew I was going to be ok.”
By connecting with her classmate who was also struggling helped Bailey through.
Since she has finished college, Bailey said that she and her classmate keep in contact, helping each other learn to deal with their down moments and happy moments.
“He knows when I hurt myself. I can remember the last time I did it, he was glaring at me from across the room and I knew exactly what he was thinking: ‘I know exactly how you feel but we are better than that.’ And because of that connection, I built myself back up.”
Bailey said it’s a constant struggle, sometimes conquering it and sometimes falling back in.
“There are people out there who could read this one day and realize that they are where I used to be, but they haven’t come out and opened up about it,” said Bailey. “My classmate saved my life and if my opening up about my experiences makes someone admit they need help, then I can sleep well at night.”
Michael Price of CAST, Communities Addressing Suicide Together, said family members and friends who are concerned about someone should follow the keep safe acronym TALK.
“The ‘T’ is tell them you’re concerned and why.” Said Price. “‘A’ is asking them directly if they are thinking of suicide. The ‘L’ is for listening calmly and taking them seriously. And the ‘K’ is keep them safe and seek help, so connect them with someone who can help.”
Bailey said she knows she will continue struggling as she goes on, but she tries to remain positive.
“I am not afraid to say that I’ve dealt with feelings of suicide and still am. But there are people out there who can’t talk about it who should. What these kids may not realize is that they aren’t alone. I battled the thoughts and came out a survivor. Never think you are alone. I am right there with you.”