For Ian & Cheslie

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, these past couple of weeks have been hard. Like everyone else, I have a lot of stress from the ongoing pandemic, harsh winter weather, and my day-to-day difficulties.

But the deaths of Ian Alexander Jr. and Cheslie Kryst have been on the forefront of my mind.

Both of them died from suicide this year.

Both of their families are now mourning their losses.

Both of them have been on my heart.

Suicide is nothing new. An unfortunate fact that we as humans have to face. It affects people from all walks of life. After it happens, we try to figure out what the person was going through that made them think death was the right choice to end their pain. Often we can’t understand it, and that’s devastating.

Ian and Cheslie were both young black adults whose gifts and talents made positive contributions to this world. Ian was 26. Cheslie was 30. To outsiders, they were living their best lives. They had years ahead of them to make even more contributions in their respective fields. Sadly we have learned that life was not what we thought it was. We only saw what was happening from an outside perspective. But there was so much more going on internally. I, nor anyone else, could ever know what was going on in their minds.

All I can think now is how sorry I am that they aren’t here anymore. We had never met before, but I can understand their struggles because of my own experiences. As a young black woman with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, I know how unbearable it can feel when your mental health is in jeopardy. Life can seem hopeless, and it’s easy to lose faith in the idea that things can get better. It can be suffocating. I don’t wish that feeling on anyone.

I wish that Ian and Cheslie were still here. I’m so sorry for their families, friends, and other loved ones who now have to go every day without them. I’m sorry for all people who have lost someone to suicide. I don’t have all the answers, but I do my best to help others who are struggling by sharing my story of recovery. Having open conversations about our struggles and setbacks helps us find the right support and resources to get better.

Our gifts in storytelling can save lives.

To my black brothers and sisters who may be struggling—I want you to know that you are loved and valued. So much in this world tries to keep us down, but our resilience is unmatched. I hope that we can work together to provide more resources and support to our communities. We are all deserving of long and healthy lives where we know that we are invaluable to this world.

If you or someone you know needs help and support, please reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741-741, or by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


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