Suicidal Thoughts: the silent struggle of our classmates
September 15, 2021
Talking about emotions and vulnerabilities for generations has been classified, as a society, as taboo, something to shame people for. As a result, according to the American College Health Association, a reflection of this is that suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among college students.
Tessa Buckley, political science freshman, recalled the time she tried to end her life. Buckley, from a young age, felt as though she didn’t truly belong, and it affected her mental health greatly. She would beat herself up trying to mold into the person she thought people wanted her to be. This was one of the deciding factors on the night she tried overdosing on prescribed medication. She remembers trying to convince herself to spit the pills out or get help, but at that moment she couldn’t find a reason for it.
“I was just kind of staring at this bottle on my nightstand and just remembered thinking, ‘What if?'” Buckley said. “Growing up as a child with autism and trying to navigate [life] while experiencing hate because people didn’t understand why I was so different… I forced myself to [act as society wanted] and lost myself along the way.”
After the attempt, Buckley continued in the same mindset, not trying to end her life again, but not sure why she shouldn’t. Eventually, she realized that she would have missed so many things if she had succeeded that night.
“[I thought] like why did I have to wake up and face what I did? I had to take a step back and realized, after finding myself, that maybe no one would miss me, but that I would regret it. I would regret not being able to do things that I’ve gotten to do,” Buckley said.
Though this life has been a difficult journey for her, Buckley said she understands that it won’t stay this bad forever. People struggling with mental illness and suicide ideation can get stuck in the mindset of everything being worse; according to Buckley an important part of living is dealing with these thoughts by reminding yourself of a better future.
“There’s always that thought in the back of your head when someone expresses disappointment in you, or you mess up something on your test, or you’re trying to draw something and it doesn’t come out right, there’s that little thought like, start over, maybe this time you’ll get an avatar without so many glitches,” Buckley said.
Raul Doporto, nursing junior, lost himself while questioning life’s purpose. Doporto recalled the types of thoughts that consumed him at his lowest point.
“If we are all a bunch of particles on a rock in space nothing really matters. If we’re all going to die in the end, what’s the point of going on?” Doporto said.
These thoughts caused a large amount of anxiety and depression. Doporto began to think: how is one supposed to plan a future, if in the future they see no point? During this time, he was taking two classes called ‘Drugs and Behavior’ and ‘Brain and Behavior’, which gave him an interesting perspective on his life at that point.
“It felt like I was part of my professor’s presentation, and I was like, ’Here is Raul, standing on the balcony, another statistic, a Hispanic smoking marijuana, drunk and was about to jump off the balcony to commit suicide.’ That’s what was in my head at the time,” Doporto said.
Luckily, at that moment on the balcony, he had someone there to pull him out of it by helping him with his breathing. Later, this technique of breathing and being in the moment changed from just a coping mechanism to an integral and spiritual part of his lifestyle.
“This guy, he was real nice, and he was just like ‘focus on your breathing.’ For me, it’s therapeutic. And that’s what kind of brought me back and brought me to spiritualism. Focusing on the power of now rather than what could potentially happen in the future,” Doporto said. “For me [mental health] can be frustrating sometimes and not truthful, but I like it because it’s a puzzle and I want to, I need to, understand.”
Most of his peace now stems from being in the moment, not allowing himself to get lost in the thoughts of past struggles or future fears.
“For me [mental health] can be frustrating sometimes and not truthful, but I like it because it’s a puzzle and I want to, I need to, understand,” Doporto said.
He still struggles with his thoughts and anxiety, but now Doporto understands his ways of coping with them and continues to learn more about himself. For others struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s people around them and a trick of the mind that can allow them to pull themselves out of these spiraling thoughts.
“It just took a little while for me to understand that if I think in a negative way, and I’m always depressed, then I’m going to stay depressed. Rather than, if I think in a positive way and stay happy, then nine times out of ten, the situation won’t be as bad as it seems,” Jason Thomas, kinesiology senior, said.
Before Thomas could achieve this mindset in his life, he went through many different hardships such as being homeless on four different occasions. During this time, Thomas began to understand more about life and the unfairness that comes with it.
“One day I was just sitting in school, and I had a breakdown. My mom is always the one to help people, but every time we needed help, they wouldn’t help us,” Thomas said.
This realization was hard on Thomas mentally, but it also forged the attitude that has helped him through tough times. His experiences have helped him be able to help others who are struggling. Thomas is working as a Residential Advisor this year, continuing to improve himself and facilitating an encouraging environment for his residents to come to talk to him if needed.
“I felt like I had to grow up and that’s why, if you’re always around me, I always try to look at things more positively. I kind of know how it feels to be let down, or like just left in a bad spot, or a place where you just don’t know what to do,” Thomas said.
MSU Texas offers many resources on campus for students, including on-campus professionals that students can go to if needing help. These professional student-staff members around campus allow for a more subtle and approachable group of people for those that need help can seek care. Additionally, other resources are available if students aren’t ready to talk to those professionals yet. All of these resources are free and set up for students to work through at their own pace.
“Keep an eye on yourself, keep an eye on your friends, and if you need [help]…please reach out,” Zachary Zoet, licensed counselor and counseling center assistant director, said.