You Are Not Alone

SOS, SOS … two amazingly gifted people recently did something that shook us to our core. The outward appearance of glamour, wealth and fame, of having it all was stripped bare by the most horrifying of acts. As TV, print, and social media have all honored and memorialized both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I think we are all left wondering: how did this happen? And yet, the numbers are staggering. More than half of the nation’s state suicide rates have risen more than 30% in 15 years.

Most alarming was something I recently read in a newly released CDC study showing that 21 percent of Duval County high schoolers and more than a quarter of middle schoolers have contemplated suicide. Mental illness is not something that just happens to “other people”. It is close to home, if not in our homes.

It is so hard to fathom that someone so young would be moved to such extremes. They are scared, they are angry, they are confused. And frankly, I believe that many of us are as well. These feelings should prompt us all to advocate for the prioritization of the resources, services, and funding to make a meaningful difference in how mental illness is viewed and treated.

There are no easy answers, but at this point, the silent screams for help have made themselves heard very loudly. The question repeated over and over is WHY, what drives someone to take their own life? How do we support the very many in our families and communities who are suffering? Mental illness is a health crisis that demands us to do more, to do better and to do it now!

A personal note: yet another shock this week with the unexpected and untimely passing of basketball great, player and coach Anne Donovan. I have known Annie since she was a standout in high school, played against her in college and then worked beside her at the WNBA when she coached the Seattle Storm. A gentle giant, thoughtful and caring, I always enjoyed the opportunities when we could visit. Personal love to her family and close friends, she has left a legacy for so many of us behind that was about excellence and caring.