Jennifer Bag-Hanna

"It’s human nature to think about death. And I don’t think that’s bad. It’s also our nature to joke about death. I don’t think that’s bad either. It's just a way to cope.

I’ve lost too many friends and family members to suicide. It’s never easy to go through. It’s one thing to lose them, but it’s another to know that they lost themselves, too.

I can’t imagine going through another loss to suicide in my lifetime, but I know it could happen. So, I try to be as vocal as possible about mental illness, what I’m going through, and what others are going through as I can. I’ve never been offended by asking or being asked uncomfortable questions. I think it really opens up that door to people who don’t understand. It also tells that person that they are not alone. They are not the only one who suffers in silence, and they don't have to be quiet about it. That was a real help for me—seeing that I'm not the only one who has these thoughts and feelings.

Those who call depression or any other mental illness an 'invisible disease' are out of touch with reality. Depression is a very real illness, and has very bad side effects. Suicide happens to be one of those side effects.

Cancer kills people just as depression kills people. It may come in a different package, but it’s still loss of life.

Suicide is not something that we’re quiet about anymore and I’m glad that has shifted. People should talk about it. We should talk about the grandfather who died by suicide. We should mention that friend we had and how we miss him and how he died. I talk about how I have a great-grandmother, grandmother, uncle, ex-boyfriend, and friend who did it.

We should support those who have survived suicide, but we shouldn’t curse those who didn’t.

When we open that dialogue, we show support for people with mental illness. We let those who are alive know that we accept depression. We accept trichotillomania. We accept you. We show that we’re not alone and that we all go through our own hard times, but it’s okay to talk about and not suffer in silence.

So, maybe next time, you’ll get a call for help and not a call for a funeral because that friend knows that he or she is not alone and that you feel those things, too. I'm not saying suicide is 100% preventable...nothing is 100% preventable. There will be misses in diagnoses, misses in signs, and misses in general.

But being silent about it is 100% preventable.

The only thing we can ask for is understanding, empathy, and a helping hand. Feeling suicidal is very human, but so is compassion."