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Why the conversation must continue

Mental health continues to plague students

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Why the conversation must continue

Written By Alex Grubbs, For The Globe

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I needed to write to get this off my chest because I’m overwhelmed. This is the best way I can do it right now. Last week, my friend committed suicide. We don’t have a reason. Chris is just gone. He was the kid with the brightest smile and the kindest heart. We were all supposed to graduate next month. I’m sad, angry and confused.

Should I have reached out for lunch? Should I have contacted him to hang out more often? Would any of that have affected his decision? What was even happening that I didn’t know about?

The last time I saw him was right before spring break this semester at the Oakland bar Hemmingway’s, and he seemed a bit off, but I assumed it was the same for all of us as we’re all graduating seniors, so I thought nothing of it.

When I found out, I was lost for words. I ran from school to my apartment to comfort my roommate who was crying and trying to find out more information. Some of my friends had known him since high school, so I couldn’t imagine how much worse this felt for them. But then we found out how he did it, and my mind went crazy. I tried putting myself in that position where I was “deciding” to do it myself, and it was overwhelming.

I don’t know the reason why he killed himself, and I might never know. But did he just need a break? Did he need to relax? Was there something deeper? I don’t know.

But what I realized in this process is how mental health is treated poorly all across the board.

Mental health on Point Park’s campus hasn’t been taken seriously. Director of Counseling Services Taffi Bucci resigned last month despite requests to the university for more staff since January 2016, as covered in a recent Globe issue.

And although my friend went to the University of Pittsburgh and Point Park services may not have affected him, this could have been any of us – this could have been any friend on this campus. We should have the proper resources to speak on this.

If I have problems, I should speak on them with the right people. And yeah, there’s also stigma talking to a professional, so most of us end up reaching to our friends – if we even decide to speak on it at all.

The hardest problem I’ve had with this grieving process is hearing,“I’m sorry, I’m here for you” from everyone. It’s a respectful phrase to say, but it’s not helping. Just listen, please.

I want to talk about it, but every conversation is feeling cliché. “Just think of the good times,” and, “It’ll get easier.”

There were great times, but how does that justify for him killing himself? I know it will get easier eventually, but it’s still hard. I’m thankful for the support, but how can I talk about it if they don’t understand how I’m feeling?

I also feel I’m dampening the mood if I do speak of it. I want to talk about my friend’s suicide as candid as possible. I’m feeling these range of emotions. I don’t want apologies. I don’t want meaningless phrases. Just let me speak and feel.

And with my grieving friends, this topic is becoming taboo – no one wants to talk about it. It’s still incredibly hard to even talk about, so I understand. But ignoring problems and not talking about them could’ve been what killed him. This is why I want us to talk and continue the conversation going forward.

I just wish we, collectively, had cared more. And I hope we realize we need to reach out for help or be there for each other when needed. Chris could still be alive if any of us, including him, did.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Why the conversation must continue”

  1. Jess Webb on March 20th, 2018 11:47 pm

    During my senior year of high school, three people I knew committed suicide. Two were family members (different sides of the family) and one was a classmate. I will never understand why and I will never fully recover from it. It’s like a part of me died with them. So I understand what you’re going through and I’m completely open to talking if you’d like. I know right now that you and your friends are going over every minute you spent with him, but you guys should never blame yourselves. Mental illnesses need to be taken as seriously as physical illnesses are.

  2. Taffie Bucci on March 21st, 2018 10:07 pm

    Alex, thank you for caring and speaking your truth. My heart aches for you and for your friend. I urge you to speak out and to believe that your voice matters. We must care – we must demand better awareness and resources. That’s the only way to make change happen.

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