TRIGGER WARNING; THIS BLOG TALKS ABOUT SEVERE MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE. This blog is to help shed light and how we can prevent Suicide written by me, Svetlana Chernienko, Mental health advocate and suicide survivor.
This blog is dedicated to Stephen "Twitch" Boss , those who we lost to suicide their families and those who survived ; I won't let your story end !
Where do I start? It's been quite the year. So many challenges for many, especially when it comes to mental health.
This past week really shocked many people and me to their core when we heard about the death of Stephen 'tWitch' Boss on December 13th.
Hearing that such a figure committed Suicide in the manner he did.
We see the shock and feel the devastation for his family. As a suicide survivor, it brought up emotions and feelings that I hadn't really wanted to feel in a long time; it was more because of what people were saying.
"He seemed so happy; he had it all. " He was happy, I'm sure; however, he was probably suffering in silence like many of us that live with the darkness of mental health issues.
The comments and statements of his happiness, whether he was in a manic state? How could he Stephen" twitch" Boss like that and take his own life?
It all made me realize that we still have a lot of work to educate others regarding mental health.
I've tried for over 10 years to be a mental health advocate. For almost 6 years, I was a tv news contributor, publicly shared my mental health journey on my social media pages, and aired a video of me having a panic attack on the national news. Even with all that and going through 2 years of a pandemic, people still feel uncomfortable with mental health and admit that's the real pandemic we face because no one wants to be viewed as crazy. However, being mentally ill is more than the stereotype we see. on tv and in movies. People like tWitch are fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles suffering in silence because we have to be strong!
I know this all too well because I've faced the stigma of my mental illness for years. It's the most complex feeling; we can talk and be vulnerable when it's still taboo in our culture, especially in the black community.
Why did we get shocked so severely? Because Stephen 'tWitch' Boss was a huge celebrity and he was loved by so many. However, you know what's sad is that Suicide is among the leading causes of death in Canada, particularly among men. On average, approximately 4,000 Canadians die by Suicide every year — about 11 suicides per 100,000 people in Canada.
Men commit Suicide at a higher rate than women. Middle-aged adults (aged 35–64 years) account for 47.2% of all suicides in the United States, and Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death for this age group.
Veterans have an adjusted suicide rate of 52.3% greater than the non-veteran U.S. adult population. 7 People who have previously served in the military account for about 13.7% of suicides among adults in the United States.
The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality showed that although Black adults reported lower percentages of suicidal ideation in 2021, the rates of suicide attempts among Black adults were higher than any other racial or ethnic group.
I hope these stats are alarming as you read this because; mental illness has always been a huge issue because of how it is seen and is such a taboo subject amongst the black community that most men don't talk about their mental health. They fear it will be seen as a weakness.
Why? because men are supposed to be strong and be providers, is what society's standards tell us. However, men are human and have emotions, and someone that's not ok shouldn't be guilted. It doesn't make them less strong.
Imagine if we heard on the news or social media how many people were dying by Suicide would create such an effect of change when we are so shaken by a person because of how famous he is. Think about those we don't hear about.
After every celebrity death by Suicide for a few days or weeks, we see hashtags like: "it's ok not to be ok," "let's talk," and "end the stigma," then dies down the end of the conversations as if mental health is no longer critical. Then we see life move on to the next viral dance or empty Tik Tok challenge.
We keep losing so many people to Suicide, and the numbers keep climbing; why?
I'll tell you why from someone who lives with mental illness and someone who has survived Suicide. It's the way society and the words we choose to use. The judgement we show when we see celebrities that have manic episodes on national TV; we cancel them.
We get tired of seeing a celebrity's mental breakdown, so the nasty comments get worse, "go take your meds," stop pretending, go to the looney bin...
Well, guess what? We get tired! I'm tired. Living with mental illness and this dark cloud isn't easy. It is the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. It's also painful to realize that I can still feel alone in a room full of people. Feel ashamed for being depressed and feel guilty for feeling like I can't keep going on because I have so much to live for.
It's a constant battle, a mental tug of war inside my mind. And for many of us that live in silence. Let me tell you, it's not a choice.
I live with Complex PTSD, Generalized anxiety, clinical depression, ADHD, and panic disorder. Surviving Suicide doesn't mean that the ideations go away; it means for me that I work so hard NOT to allow it to turn into action. I laugh a lot, live life, raise kids, and run businesses; however, with all my smiles, I feel like I'm screaming inside. It means that I've learnt how to mask my mental illness. It means I must fight to deal with my day, whether good or bad.
I don't want to hear that I need to change my mindset because, let me tell you, mental illness isn't a mindset; it's a disease, a lifelong sentence you have to learn how to live with. Constantly having devils on your shoulder, with that black cloud of disparity that follows you everywhere you go, hoping today's not the day you can't do it anymore.
Does that mean I'm not happy? No. It means my version is different from most people, and that's ok. We don't want to be told, "you'll get over it and be happy one day'; But I am happy; I feel joy, I laugh and dance like no one is watching, but I'm also depressed at times for no reason, not because something happened just because that's my reality and the reality of many people like me, and that's ok.
Throughout the years, I've found so much joy and gratitude in living with mental illness; I've been able to break my silence, turn my pain into power and help so many others feel less than others because of their mental health. I've learnt that I can no longer live in fear of judgment from others because it will kill me if I can't speak up.
This is my life and path; I'm still here living it. So while I'm here, I will help, educate and push against the stigma to help others feel empowered again. There is no shame in having bad days, weeks, months or years. Some of us, at some point, go through depression or anxiety. Some of us will feel like we are too ashamed to speak up; however, if more of us show that "it's TRULY ok, not to be ok," the proper healing and acceptance can be that without our mental health, we have nothing.
If you are struggling with your mental health and are reading this, please know you aren't alone; you are seen and heard.
Here are all the resources if you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts.
There is always a better way!
Resources for help ;
Talk Suicide Canada
Hours: Available 24/7/365 for calls; 4 PM—12 AM ET for texts; Languages: English, French
U.S National Suicide Prevention
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Veterans Crisis Line
For hearing-impaired individuals
For TTY Users
Use your preferred relay service or dial 711, then 988.
For LGBTQ+ Mental health help & resources