ORLANDO, Fla. – September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-14, and the third leading cause of death for people 15-24 in the U.S.
Local author, speaker, and podcaster Makaila Nichols founded the Blatantly Honest Foundation to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. She wrote the bestselling book Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life in 2016, detailing her struggles with bullying and mental illness. She says her darkest moments came when she was 14-16 years old.
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“I found myself in a very dark place where I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore, and I had one of two choices. And ultimately, I chose to use my story to help other people,” Nichols said. “One life lost to suicide is too many. I’ve worked with a lot of parents who’ve unfortunately lost their child to suicide at such a young age and it breaks my heart. I think every story is important because their life is important.”
The foundation provides resources, like Nichols’ book and anti-bullying coloring books, to Central Florida schools. Nichols also visits schools, sharing her story and encouraging students to ask for help.
“I think honestly, a lot of us don’t want to admit we have a problem. We live in a world where everything seems to be perfect all the time, and the reality is, it’s not,” she said. “At this moment, we feel like the worst is happening and that’s not true. It can feel that way, but honestly, there’s a song the sun will come out tomorrow, and it’s so true. Hang on, realize you’re feeling those feelings. There’s nothing wrong with having a sad day or a bad day. It happens to all of us, even those who seem the strongest. I myself was afraid to ask for help. It’s a scary thing. It’s not easy. I can sit here and be like own yourself, love yourself, but that’s not always easy. It’s really, find someone you trust and talk to them. If you’re too scared to ask for help, maybe they can get you the help you need.”
Tickets are still available. All money raised goes back into the foundation to provide mental health resources for Central Florida students.
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