Her Story: I Struggle With Suicidal Thoughts and You Would Never Know It

Content warning: mentions of depression and suicidal thoughts

I’m a student at UCF. I get great grades. I’m involved in student leadership. I have a job I love. I have amazing friends, family, teachers and peers. I am kind, smart, outgoing, funny and sometimes beautiful. People most often describe me as happy, confident, or put-together. I have a very cute dog who loves me, a plant that is doing its best to survive me—and I suffer from suicidal thoughts. My point in bringing this up is that you can’t tell who has depression just by looking at a person. Your friends and family might be dealing with things they don’t bring up for many reasons, including the social stigma surrounding mental health issues, a worry that it might upset you and general untrue thoughts that their feelings are unimportant.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4 percent of adults aged 18 and over had suicidal thoughts in 2016. It’s even worse for people aged 18-25, who suffered from the highest rate of suicidal thoughts at nearly 9 percent in 2016. Risk factors for suicidal ideation and suicide include depressive symptoms, moderate and high-risk alcohol consumption, economic class, sexual orientation, religious practice, prior attempts and knowing someone who has taken their own life or attempted to. College students are often anxious, depressed and stressed, put under enormous pressure to succeed and under significant economic stress. Students also have easy access to alcohol, drugs and weapons all of which can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and actions.

I have never made an attempt on my own life and I work very hard to build a life for myself that feels worth living in the hopes that I won’t experience a low point where I seriously consider it ever again. I normally would have kept this to myself, but with the recent news of a UCF student possibly taking their life on campus, I felt the need to speak out about my experience. You are not alone. People you respect and admire go through this too, and if you're suffering you should say something and seek help. You are not defined by anyone but yourself. If you have failed a class (or four) or did not get the job offer you needed, or if for any reason you are feeling hopeless, please remember that your life has meaning and that you always have the potential to be a light in this world. No matter how bad things get, there will always be dogs who tug their owner's leash because they want to say hello to you. There will be sunrises and ice cream, and you will find friends who make you feel loved and supported. You deserve to be here.

If you are struggling, UCF has resources available through Counseling and Psychological Services. If you're not a UCF student, you can use these resources. If you're worried about a friend or family member who you think might be suffering, please consider reaching out; you never know when an act of kindness or words of support could literally save a person's life.

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