The urge to end my life was a persistent voice that kept whispering, “You have no value.”
I was always depressed and lonely, even in a crowded hall. I realized that it was neither normal nor a healthy lifestyle to take sedatives to get through the day. I lost sleep, lethargy set in, and the weight gain made my depression worse.
More and more I found a relationship with the words from a Linkin Park song, “Waiting for the End”:
Wait for the end
I wish I had the strength to stand
I hadn’t planned that
It was relatable as an intense feeling of fear kept growing. I felt ugly and isolated. I thought I was a monster of imperfection. I felt chained to hopelessness.
I was a public figure with a platform, giving speeches and attending countless community events. Outwardly, people saw the smile, the handshake, and an extrovert. Inside was a very different, dark mental environment.
Talking to someone saved my life
I arrived at the height of my desperation on a Friday in January 2018. I put a bottle of sleeping pills in my pocket and went out the door. The day went slowly. I got more impatient.
Before I took the bottle out of my pocket for use, I did one crucial act: speak to someone. It turned out to be a life-saving decision.
And did I vent – my feelings, my shame and my sadness. That someone heard me. Outstanding support. Advice offered. Desolation, that constant companion, finally said goodbye. I could breathe.
In the evening I drove home, handed my wife the bottle of pills, and went to bed.
The willingness to listen, to be patient, not to judge makes a big difference in dealing with people like me who have long had suicidal thoughts.
The willingness to seek help should also not be overestimated.
I became my own clerk. I decided that shame and fear wouldn’t stop me from sitting down with a therapist.
Mental health is stigmatized among many Latinos
One barrier to seeking help early on has been the cultural concern as a Latino male and the stigma specifically associated with mental health and suicide. In many Latino families, mental health is not a topic of conversation at the kitchen table. Only now have I shared my story with my extended family.
Culturally taboo subjects like mental health (and even more suicide) are not discussed – it remains a private matter. The effects of silence are profound as it adds to isolation and the feeling of feeling abnormal. Latino men are expected not to show any emotion as this is perceived as a sign of weakness.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in 2018, “Suicidal behavior among Hispanics has increased in the past decade, particularly among women and adolescents” – 1 in 4 Latina and Hispanic girls and 1 in 4 Hispanic and Latino boys have contemplated suicide, and rates are even higher among Latino / a and Hispanic lesbian, gay, or bisexual people.
After dozens of phone calls, I finally found a psychiatrist who eventually prescribed medication for depression and anxiety. I saw a therapist regularly and expressed my feelings, which were permeated with tortuous blackness; I have set goals to improve my mental health. The use of sedatives continued to be a means of dealing with the snares and arrows of life.
I’ve had setbacks, but I’ve also found the truth
Suicidal tendencies subsided, but they did not go away. There were times when I had setbacks that triggered dark thoughts. I remember one of those moments in late March 2019 when I felt dejected and defeated on a flight home from Southern California.
I wrote: “You once danced with happiness in the rain, laughed with real enthusiasm, debated with lustful intent, walked with modest confidence, created with enchanting colors. You have to hold back tears for fear of flooding your dignity. ”
After months of therapy and searching for a better self, I found the truth in the words of Pablo Neruda: “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot prevent spring.” I found a new meaning in myself and started working on one To think future in which, even if the flowers were cut, I could put them in a vase. I started looking ahead and found hope, courage and creativity.
That’s why it’s so important to tell this story
I am lucky. I had health insurance and once worked for a healthcare nonprofit that helped me navigate the behavioral health system. I learned about resources and organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
I turned to the Foundation’s website, which publishes annual suicide statistics from the CDC Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report. The latest statistics from 2019 were grim at both national and local levels:
- 47,511 Americans died from suicide, 1,419 in Arizona.
- There have been an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts.
- Men died from suicide more than 3.5 times as did women.
- Suicide was the eighth leading cause of death in Arizona.
- Five times as many Arizonans died from suicide than from alcohol-related car accidents.
The Suicide Prevention Foundation also provides a link to get help – afsp.org/get-help – and find support for yourself or those at risk of suicide.
October 10th is World Mental Health Day. I am telling my truth today because I know well the fear that leads to thoughts of suicide and the experience of standing on a ledge and thinking about jumping.
There is hope if you can get help. Do not wait
We all fight. Many suffer from anxiety and depression, and the percentage rose alarmingly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I survived because I spoke to someone who would listen and care for me, see a therapist who helped me see challenges in perspective and appreciate the love of my wife and family. The dark thoughts are gone, the monster exorcised.
In November 2019, with a clearer mind and on my way to more self-confidence, I heard two lines, somehow hidden in the music, in the Linkin Park song:
Now pick up the pieces where to start
The hardest part of the ending starts all over again
I took it as a blessing and have been doing it every day since then: starting from scratch.
Carlos Galindo-Elvira is Director of Community Engagement & Partnerships at Chicanos Por La Causa, a nonprofit that empowers people in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. On twitter: @arizonascge.
In danger? Please help
National lifeline for suicide prevention
Veterans Crisis Line
800-273-8255 and press 1
Line of crisis text
Send SMS to 741741 to text 24/7 for free with a trained crisis advisor
Lifeline for young people
Teens can call 602-248-TEEN (8336) or 800-248-TEEN (8336).
Teens can also write to a teenage peer counselor at 602-248-8336 on weekdays between 12:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. and on weekends between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The Trevor Project provides confidential support for LGBTQ youth in crisis 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.