Meet Carrie Shade: The Woman Behind @AgainstSuicide

For many of the years I have been on Twitter, I have been following an account known as @AgainstSuicide. Since the account is for mental health and suicide awareness, there is a bit of anonymity behind who runs it. Recently, I got to interview the woman behind it all—Carrie Shade. With the isolation that can come from COVID-19, I thought it was the perfect time to put her story out into the world and introduce her positivity who those who may not know about it. 

Her Campus (HC): If you feel comfortable, tell a little bit about yourself. Things that aren’t related to the account and that make you, you!

Carrie Shade (CS): I’ll be honest, I am horrible at talking about myself because I genuinely don’t know what to say! I am 23 years old and a two-time graduate of West Virginia University, with my BSJ in Strategic Communications & MS in Integrated Marketing Communications. I am a serious homebody, but I am a typical 23-year-old who loves walking through Target, drinking iced coffee and secretly loves TikTok. I work full time in the digital & social media world and manage @AgainstSuicide in my free time!

HC: What was your inspiration behind starting your account and did you have any goals when creating it?

CS: In 2011, when I was 14 years old, I lost a childhood friend to suicide. It was the biggest defining moment in my life, and it came with grief that took over my mind and life entirely. A few months later, I came across a suicide awareness account on Twitter. Social media wasn’t nearly as huge in people’s lives as it is now, but seeing it really struck something in me. I created Against Suicide with the thought that it would help me cope with all the emotions I was feeling and hopefully help someone that was in the same position as the friend that I had lost. I didn’t really think anything would come of it, especially not what it has become.

HC: Did you ever think you would gain as many followers as you did? How does it make you feel that you were able to reach as many people as you have?

CS: I think I am just as shocked as anyone that the account blew up the way it did. People would often ask how I gained so many followers, but the only answer I have is that I was and am making content that I am passionate about. I don’t constantly look at my follower count and boast about it. I feel like that can get you in the wrong mindset and that’s not what it’s all about. I look at it as that is how many people, I am able to reach with the message that I am sharing, and that’s all I can ask for. I want to be able to reach people with my content and have it mean something to them.

HC: What are your thoughts on how mental illness and suicide are viewed by the public and what do you think is the most important thing people should know about it?

CS: I think that mental illness and suicide is always going to be a work in progress when it comes to how it is viewed in society. There are highs and there are lows. For example, mental health and suicide tend to become a trending topic on social media when a celebrity or influencer speaks out or if it is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is really great to get the conversation going and get people informed. But when it’s not trending, it seems to be pushed to the side. There is a stigma around them where no one wants to talk about them because they can be seen as dark and scary, but that’s what we need to work on changing. If we continue to not talk about it, people are going to continue to feel ashamed of any mental health issues they may be dealing with.

The most important thing I think people need to know is that everyone has mental health, and everyone can struggle with it. Mental illnesses don’t discriminate. It’s important to talk about it and have an open conversation so that people know what the signs of mental illnesses are, and we can help the people around us that are struggling in silence. I started out primarily posting about suicide awareness, hence the Twitter handle, but quickly started learning the importance that mental health plays into it. That’s why I make an effort to incorporate both into the content that I create.

HC: Are there any downsides to your account? Upsides? 

CS: I think the downsides are that I feel pressured to make content all the time, even if my mental health isn’t at its best. Being someone who does social media as my full-time job, I look at analytics a lot. So, if I’m not posting as frequently, I see those numbers go down and my mind automatically thinks people aren’t as interested in the content. Like I said before, I don’t do this looking to gain as many followers as possible, but I do want people to be engaged in what I’m posting. It’s something I can get in my head about from time to time. The upside is being able to see the people that resonate with the posts. Being as I have always run this account as a hobby, through high school, college, grad school, and now my full-time job, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it. But, being able to see that people are touched by the content I am making and feeling like I am actually making some sort of mark in the world, that’s enough for me.

HC: Is there anything that has really stuck out to you in the almost 9 years you’ve had this account? Or anybody? 

CS: There has been so much that has happened in the last nine years, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I think the first major thing that pops up may seem superficial, but it has a deep meaning to me—when I won Shorty Awards in 2013 & 2014. Those experiences really solidified to me that I was making a difference and I was making an impact. For the few years before that, it was just a 14-year-old, behind a screen, writing tweets about positivity in hopes that someone, somewhere would like them. It wasn’t about winning an award to me, it was about realizing that I actually made some sort of difference, and that meant the world to me.

You can find all of Carrie’s positive posts on Twitter at @AgainstSuicide and if you need help, seek out local assistance or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you are unable to call, text HOME to 741741 to speak with The Crisis Text Line.

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