It was June 9, 2018, at 1:48 a.m. when the Devil came. I did everything to prevent its coming, but all of my efforts were in vain. It won; that midnight, it won, again, for the nth time.
It first came when I was in fourth grade. I ended up in our school clinic. The nurse scolded me for what I had done; she didn’t know it was the Devil who made me do it. The slash on my wrist was the Devil’s first victory.
The victor had support from my father, the one who abandoned me, the reason why my life hit rock-bottom, the very reason for the Devil’s coming.
It was quite some time ago when the first crack in the marriage of my parents appeared. The crack, the entrance of the Devil, soon became bigger and bigger. As the fealty of my father to our family faded and his vows burned to ashes, the slashes on my wrist appeared. Suicidal thoughts lingered in my mind more and more.
At 1:56 a.m. on June 9, 2018, I gave up on my personal battle. I knew that I needed help. I dialed the suicide prevention hotline in my country, endorsed by the Department of Health (DOH). No one answered. I dialed a foundation that promised to help victims like me of the big D, of the Depression that had plagued me since fourth grade. But I was met with the continuous mechanical beeping of my phone.
I messaged the Facebook account of DOH; it told me to contact them. I did just that. Someone answered, I aired my concern, but he wasn’t helpful. He asked me my name so that he could report me for making a ruckus. I cried and said, “I’m sorry for being a bother, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” I hung up. I cried myself to sleep that night. The DOH never called me back.
If the Devil’s force had just grown a little stronger that midnight of June 9, 2018, I wouldn’t be here. A miracle saved me, but let’s face it, a miracle was nowhere to be found when Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and countless other people took their own lives. We can’t gamble human lives on miracles, prayers, talks. Yes, they’re helpful, but Depression is a real sickness. We need real solutions.
Those hotlines could have saved countless lives, but they failed. The world is failing to save millions of lives from the Devil, from mental health illness. And this growing list of losses is what I want to change.
A lot of people see mental health illness as taboo, as something prayers and sunshine can solve. We need to work out these common misconceptions and misinformation first. We need to educate a lot of people.
We need world leaders to enact change in their countries and provide substantial funding for mental health programs and advocacies. Young people can help each other; we have social media, let’s make mental health advocacy go viral. Let us tweet, post, write blogs about pertinent information on mental health.
Moreover, supporting and simply checking on our peers are little steps that can save lives. We can send love, and we can stop hate. Those discriminatory, insensitive and bullying posts and other vile things directed at mental health sufferers should end.
Someday, the D’s victories will be things of the past.
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Jack Lorenz A. Rivera, 17, is a student of Manila Science High School.
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