Remember to keep pushing

Photo courtesy of Gabriela Alexandre

By Gabriela Alexandre | Contributor

WARNING: This story contains content about suicide that may be disturbing to some individuals.

From Sept. 5 to Sept. 11, the country observes National Suicide Prevention Week, so I thought it was the perfect time to highlight a concerning statistic.

Suicide is the second most common cause of death among those aged 20 to 24, with 18% of deaths being attributed to it in 2017. People take their own lives for a variety of reasons; however, it’s impossible to know what is truly going on in people’s minds.

While I can’t tell you every victim’s story or reasoning for taking their lives, I can tell you my own.

I remember lying in my bed a week into summer break, just thinking about my life at the moment. I thought of my parents, who I always seemed to disappoint. I thought of the dreams I had but couldn’t fulfill — the goals I failed to accomplish.

I thought about my place in other people’s lives. “I’m just a supporting character,” I told myself. “They’ll be sad for a week, and then they’ll move on.”

I had lost the motivation to do simple tasks, even the things I used to enjoy. To sum it up, I simply failed to see the purpose in me being here anymore.

With these thoughts, I attempted to end my life that night, but thanks to the grace of God — and some miscalculations on my part — I am here today writing this piece.

As it turns out, I’m not alone in my struggles. During the 2019-2020 school year, over a third of U.S. college students showed moderate to severe depression symptoms, while a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that an estimated one in four people aged 18 to 24 contemplated suicide in June 2020.

These statistics don’t surprise me in the slightest. As young adults, we find ourselves at a crossroads. The stability and structure that home and school provide will be gone soon, and the pressures of life can feel insurmountable.

As we work to find our place in this world, some may struggle, and when you throw in random life events — such as financial woes, the end of a relationship or a global pandemic — it can often be a recipe for disaster. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your life is over.

Normally, this is the part where I tell you about how much better my life is and how my suicidal thoughts are no more. Unfortunately, I’m still looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. To whoever is struggling out there, while I can’t tell you when things will get better, I can tell you to keep pushing.

I know that’s easier said than done, so let me tell you two things that have helped me.

The first thing is to take note of the things you love the most — be it TV shows, movies or hobbies. It’s good to remind yourself that while times are hard, there are plenty of things to be around for.

The second is to reach out to people. I would recommend a therapist or a crisis helpline, but reaching out to your friends can be just as effective.

Every once in a while, I read an old Twitter direct message in which a friend told me that while it may be hard to see myself from others’ perspectives, I should know that God always sees my worth. Let me tell you, that message has never failed to keep me going.

I feel that many people underestimate how much people care about them. To whoever needs to read this, if you feel like nobody cares, I’m telling you right now that I do.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, Baylor offers multiple avenues through which students can reach out and seek help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at: 1-800-273-8255.