"At some point I realised that if I don’t talk about it, if I don’t tell my story then who will?"

Despite it being the 21st Century, despite the number of public figure suicides, despite the conversation and the support that’s offered, there is still a culture of silence and a stigma that it isn’t okay to talk about.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organization 800,000 people die each year by suicide and the rate of death by suicide has consistently been rising.

People ask me how I’ve been able to talk openly about my depression. I talk about it, because I have to, it is that simple.

At some point I realised that if I don’t talk about it, if I don’t tell my story then who will?

This year I battled the darkest depression I’ve ever faced. My family all well-meaning said I would never do anything to end my life, yet they couldn’t see the demon that was depression. the darkness that ensured no light could enter.

I got upset when Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington died, not because I knew him, but because I understood his struggle. I understood it wasn’t a choice. He didn’t make some selfish decision to leave this world, his wife, his children, his life behind. That night in his house the depression was simply too powerful, the darkness too great that he could no longer tread water.

Whenever a celebrity dies by suicide, it seems like the entire internet collectively become mental health professionals, dishing out their idea of advice on how to save people from the same fate. Their advice typically focuses on the victim: “Call the suicide hotline! Reach out to a doctor!” I’m not sure that most of these people have ever felt the level of depression and darkness that leads to suicide.

Break the silence. Talk to someone and tell your story.

As a person suffering from depression, I have dealt with suicidal ideation for a while. It can be brought on by a multitude of triggers, varying in intensity from a simple bad day, to feeling completely abandoned by everyone in my life. If you were to ask most people suffering from depression why they think about killing themselves, the answer is simple: “To make the pain stop.”

We don’t necessarily want to die – in fact, death terrifies me. We just don’t have the coping skills to work through our own emotions, and the only way we can think to stop the pain is to stop the feelings altogether.

Credit: Resonate/Jun Kit Man

Credit: Resonate/Jun Kit Man

The problem so many people who are suicidal have is that the don’t feel like they can talk about it, they feel ashamed that they are going through it and are even more ashamed to bring it up. Because, for so long we’ve made mental illnesses out to be something weak people have, that it’s just an excuse.

Society has been told that if you feel alone, don’t talk about it. If you feel stressed, don’t talk about it. If you feel depressed, don’t talk about it.

Then, when someone takes their life we say how we never saw it coming, how they took the easy way out, how they were cowards and how they clearly didn’t think about the people it would impact.

Then, when someone takes their life, after we’ve told them to stay silent about their feelings, or when they tried to talk to us but we joked about it to them, we’re confused about why they did it.

Break the silence. Talk to someone and tell your story.

Credit: Resonate/Jun Kit Man

That’s how we save lives. We talk about it — we break the silence.

World Suicide Prevention Day, an event that started in 2003, strives to bring awareness to preventable death and help reduce the stigma surrounding related mental health issues. We need more discussion about mental health, not just when someone famous commits suicide but always.

We need to end the stigma around being depressed, around having those thoughts. We need to realize that life is hard, and for some of us, it’s harder for us to find the light. It doesn’t make us selfish, or weak. We are not damaged, we are simply fighting to live happily. And for those of you fighting this battle today, do what you need to do to be happy. If that means medication, take it and don’t let anyone shame you into going off.

Talk to someone, your friends, your family. Let that mask slip off for a little while, let them see you, the real you. It’s okay to say I’m struggling, it’s okay to ask for help.

Follow Jun’s Instagram for more on mental health.

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by mental health issues, please seek out help from organisations such as Samaritans.