Recent statistics have shown that the total number of suicides declined by 5.6% in 2020, which is encouraging news, but that doesn’t render mental health a less important issue. On the contrary, one in five adults in the U.S. struggle with mental health challenges every year. And when we study the numbers more carefully, we find that suicide has risen among certain demographic segments in some states. In Oregon, suicide is the leading cause of death among youth aged 10-24 years, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During this month, mental health organizations typically run extensive campaigns to raise awareness for mental disorder-related issues and how to mitigate them. This is all well and good, but in my opinion, mental health awareness should be observed throughout the entire year, given the significant number of patients suffering from poor mental health. Despite this, Mental Health Awareness Month is still a good reminder to take care of ourselves, especially if we feel that we have neglected our mental well-being. Particularly during this unparalleled time with so many challenges thrown at us as a result of the pandemic, our inner selves need more TLC than ever before.
Like Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Some chocolates are sweet and make us happy, but some are bitter, leaving us to despair and wonder whether the bad aftertaste will ever disappear. I remember how shocked I was when I heard about Robin Williams’s suicide on the news. My first reaction was “What?! Why him? He was successful, famous, beloved, happily married and not terminally ill. He had everything any human being could ever want in life. Why?” That question kept me wondering for a long time. Until I realized that everyone has his or her own pain. And the pain is the same, regardless of whether you are black or white, rich or poor, successful or not. It’s how you deal with the pain that makes it different.
Without exception, life has served me quite a few hard-to-swallow chocolates too. Over the years, I have learned a thing or two about coping with adversities in life. Whenever I am feeling sad and don’t have anyone immediately available to talk to, I turn to music for relief. I choose songs that I identify with and can uplift my mood. A friend recently sent me a song, “Don’t Give Up,” which serves just that purpose. It’s a beautiful song with a meaningful message. It makes me feel like someone out there understands me and my unhappiness. “Don’t Give Up” has an inspiring story as well. It was actually written to be a suicide prevention song, based on a poem written by Dr. Diane Kaufman, a child psychiatrist and poet from Oregon, who has suffered from anxiety and depression and has even attempted suicide. She wrote it with the intention of encouraging sufferers of poor mental health to never give up, to know they are not alone and that help is available.
I’d like to share this song here with the Thrive Global community. If you find yourself in a dark place, I hope “Don’t Give Up” will give you some strength to carry on. As the song goes, “There will be a better now, even when you don’t see how.” Listen, and keep the faith.
You can listen to this song via this link.