Young local activists and their adult advocates are working to reduce the incidence and impact of suicide and suicidal ideation.
This article is part of Concentrate’s Voices of Youth series, which features content created by Washtenaw County youth in partnership with Concentrate mentors, as well as feature stories by adult writers that examine issues of importance to local youth. In this installment, Concentrate writer Eric Gallippo examines the topic of youth suicide – an issue of importance raised in our listening sessions with local youth.
At age 17, Howell resident Kyle (last name withheld by request) was in a serious car accident that knocked him unconscious and put him in the hospital. After his discharge, rumors started circulating among his peers that he was abusing hard drugs, due to his dilated pupils caused by heavy pain medications. Kyle was already struggling with low self-esteem, partly from bouts of severe acne. He started withdrawing from friends and thinking about how he didn’t want to live anymore.
“I had suicidal ideation every single day after my car accident,” he says.
Today, Kyle is a college graduate and young professional who has shared his story of surviving attempted suicide and suicidal ideation with hundreds of young people in area schools and online meetings.
After realizing he was the only one of his high school friends who hadn’t died by suicide or overdose, Kyle got involved with Washtenaw County’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a nonprofit, grassroots mental health organization serving millions of Americans.