Content Warning: This piece contains mentions of suicide.
One of the last conversations I had with my father was him pleading, “Help me. Please, help me.”
My dad came to this country from Cuba when he was just 15, speaking no English and having no family in the states. Over the course of a few decades, he worked his way out of poverty and became a very successful life insurance salesman. He was a force to be reckoned with, literally a survivor, living the American dream. He was stubborn and argumentative but also silly and a fiercely loving man who adored his family.
I was 10 the first time I heard that my father had depression. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I knew that he was sad all the time. To cheer him up, my sister and I put together a PowerPoint of all the reasons he should be happy, and why we loved him. With time he seemed to get better, and I didn’t really hear about it again until I was 18.
This time it wasn’t as easy as making a PowerPoint. One day he mentioned to me that he was thinking about suicide. I was completely taken by surprise, I never expected him to say anything like that. He could probably see the shock on my face, so he reassured me that he wouldn’t do that. It was just a passing thought. A few days later, my dad took his life.
Two years ago, I had no idea what to do when my dad cried for help except cry myself. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the Active Minds website, around the time of the one-year anniversary of his death, that I began to understand the difference one person can make when they’re equipped with the right tools. That day, I spent hours on the organization’s website, moved to tears by Active Minds’ purpose and values. I completely immersed myself in all the different resources available and immediately went to work to create an Active Minds chapter at my school – the University of Texas at San Antonio.
I have vowed to do everything in my power to help Active Minds expand and strengthen its influence, educate people, and permanently revolutionize the field of mental health and now I am asking you to join me in supporting Active Minds’ lifesaving mission.
Maybe I couldn’t help my dad, but I am trying my best to help others. I want to make sure that no one feels the way he did or loses someone they love because they didn’t know the signs to look for. I unreservedly support Active Minds and I see every day that it is enhancing lives, saving lives, and changing the conversation about mental health.