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'There were many times where I thought, this is it,' Mental health advocates share stories of healing

Suicide is the leading cause of death among kids and adults
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Posted at 4:58 AM, Sep 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-19 07:37:13-04

AKRON, Ohio  — When Kent State graduate Kiara White looks back at various photos of herself over the years, she sees deep personal growth and change.

"There's meaning in my journey and my life. And my life is worth living," said White.

She's the true definition of a survivor and a fighter.

"There were many times where I thought, this is it. I can't do this anymore."

The 27-year-old Akron native attempted to take her own life twice and has bravely battled bipolar disorder and depression for years.

"My first attempt was my senior year and I took pills to try to make an attempt on my life."

Like many Northeast Ohio residents, White was caught in the cross hares of a mental health crisis.

She luckily got the necessary help.

Her immensely strong family and friend support system coupled with guidance from mental health professionals saved her life.

"Getting that for them and knowing that even when I didn't believe in myself, there were people who believed in me and saw who I was."

White's story hits home as September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

National data shows there is one suicide death in the U.S. every 11 and a half minutes.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among kids and adults, nearly 800,000 die worldwide by suicide each year.

And in 2020 during the peak pandemic, 1.2 million people attempted to take their own lives.

Katie Jenkins, Executive Director of NAMI Greater Cleveland, says so many people silently go through the crisis.

The pandemic amplified anxiety, fears, and depression.

"It's not one particular type of person or someone who specifically looks a certain way. It's anyone," said Jenkins. 

She says during this month, awareness and paying attention to warning signs are critical.

These include extreme mood changes, avoiding things that a person normally would have been doing, shying away from social situations, decreased attendance, and giving away prized possessions.

Jenkins says simply checking on someone can save their life.

"It's stopping and talking to them. It's asking them what's going on. It's not being afraid to say, are you considering suicide?" said Jenkins.

White says she has made peace with her past and tattoos on her arms are a constant reminder of how far she has come on her journey to wellness.

"I'm living the light on the other side."

She says what's so important to note is that there is help, and you are not alone. If you need to talk to someone immediately call 988. That's the recently updated suicide and crisis lifeline number. Newly released data shows that calls to the lifeline jumped 45% compared to last year.

Most of those calls connected the person struggling directly to a counselor.

For additional resources, click here.