“And always remember, even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise to another day.”

Content Warning: this blog mentions suicide and contains personal experiences and stories of personal hardship. The purpose is to destigmatize mental health and to embrace, love and empower young people.  CNAY is proud to provide young leaders agency in narrative sharing and empower them in sharing their truth.

Below is a blog written by CNAY Youth Advisory Board Member and 2020 Champion for Change, Jazmine Wildcat.

Every morning when I open my eyes to begin the day, I thank the creator for blessing me with another day. I take my pup outside and then drink some water to tie myself with Mother Earth. As I continue my day, my mind drifts to my peers and reality begins to sink in. In just my short 17 rotations around the sun, I have lost so many people to the tragic epidemic of suicide, and I bet many of you have your own stories, too.

Did you know that every 40 seconds someone takes their own life? Did you know that 1 in 4 young adults have thought about it? Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-19 years olds. Suicide rates have always been a growing health problem and we can all do our part to help our friends and others within our communities.

As a teenager, there are many times when I have heard others joking about it and using it to be more dramatic in our everyday lives. We need to collectively come together and quit saying “I’m going to kill myself” because you don’t like the outfit you have on that day, or you think practice is hard. Suicide is real. And it affects more people than you know. If people continue to make jokes about it and do not take it seriously, people will continue to hide their thoughts and not seek help.

Teens that contemplate taking their own lives are hurting, they feel hopeless and may think of it as the only way out. These individuals are tired of hurting and feeling like no one understands them. There may be warning signs such as changes in mood, pushing people they love away, or giving away possessions, but sometimes there are no signs at all.

You see that person smiling and laughing with their friends? You don’t know what they’ve been through, or what’s going through their mind. Maybe they’re good at hiding things? Maybe they already have a plan.

Some of you maybe asking how do I know? Well, I know because I was that person having a good time with my friends but was screaming for help inside, and slowly losing my internal battle. But, I am one of the lucky ones who was able to come out of that darkness to find the light and still be here today.

So, what can you do to help? First and foremost, treat everyone with kindness, because you don’t know the battles that they are fighting. Also talking about suicide is important so the issue ceases to be taboo, and those contemplating it will be more comfortable seeking help.

If you hear of someone that is depressed or anxious, don’t invalidate their feelings and say they’re overreacting or they should be thankful. And most importantly, support them and show acceptance, listen without judgment, and just be there. We can make a difference in someone’s world and that small gesture from you may ensure that that person wakes up to another day.

For those that are struggling, we see you. There are people who do care about you, including me. You have yet to make your mark on this Earth and asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. Healing from that trauma isn’t about forgetting what has happened to us, it’s about not letting it define you. And always remember, even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise to another day.

Jazmine Wildcat, Northern Arapaho, CNAY Youth Advisory Board Member and 2020 Champion for Change, has spent most of her formative years advocating for equality and equity for others and ensuring that humankind and the Earth will be protected for future generations. The high school senior is an advocate for gun control, inclusion, equal rights, the environment, voting rights, MMIP and the destigmatization of mental illness. After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2019, her activism helped her get through tough times. She has started the Nii’ííniProject, which help those with depression and anxiety get involved in activism as a form of a coping mechanism and to help guide them with a passion to make change onto the next step.