I'm Destinee and this is where I share my life, my work, and my heart. As a multi-passionate creative, you'll find a little bit of everything I love here: my photography, my writing, and my advocacy for mental health and social justice. I may not be for everyone, but I hope that you'll feel welcomed, encouraged, and inspired from this online space. 

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Mental Health, Personal

September 10, 2020

Toxic Positivity Never Saved Anyone From Suicide

Toxic Positivity Never Saved Anyone from Suicide by Destinee Stark

…but TOGETHER we can change that.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I’m here to remind you that the people experiencing suicidal thoughts are probably the ones you least expect. If we want to change that, we need to have an honest conversation about suicide and mental health.

There are many things we need to do to prevent suicide. But, one important way to help prevent it is: we need to recognize and normalize the nuance of suicidality. Many times, people that have suicidal thoughts, function seemingly fine day-to-day. They seem happy, may even be successful, or look like they have it all together. They might tell jokes or be the life of the party. Their daily routine may be so solid that their instagram followers envy it. They might get up in the morning, take their dog for a walk, eat breakfast, take their kids to school, go to and excel in their work, socialize with their co-workers, meet up with their friends, and go home to a happy family. They may seem completely “normal” to the outside world.

The truth is, having suicidal thoughts can look so different for so many people. And it almost always goes undetected from those closest to them. How many more times do we need to be completely shocked by the loss of someone close to us, in our community, or even a celebrity we look up to, to realize this is a problem we as a collective society have a moral obligation to do something about?

It’s going to take more than just “being kind”.

Often times, that person seemingly had a “great life” from their perfectly curated instagram. The world is completely shocked to find out they were battling such an insidious internal struggle all alone. If we want to actually make a difference, we have to do more than just “check on our friends” or “be kind“. Of course those things are important too. But, we desperately need to have honest, real conversations about how we are really feeling. We need to dismantle the stigma of vulnerability and honest dialogue around mental health. Many of us are masters at masking the hard days for fear of being labeled a “chronic complainer” or “negative nancy”. Those labels will leave us feeling even more rejection and loneliness than we already felt.

Suicidal thoughts thrive in isolation. They thrive in “the hustle”. They thrive in unrealistic expectations set on us that we seem to fall short of time and time again. Suicide thrives in a “good vibes only” culture, and to prevent it, we need to dismantle that toxic positivity and normalize the nuance. Toxic positivity never saved anyone from taking their own life. You know what did save them? People coming together to give them the help and support that they needed to feel better.

So I want to challenge you to have those conversations with people you care about, and even the people you don’t. We are all going through a collective trauma and long term isolation during this pandemic, and it’s even more difficult for those with mental illnesses like depression and anxiety to be okay. Remember that it’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to do it alone.

Suicide Prevention Resources

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, I want to urge you to reach out to someone you trust. Here are some resources that can help:

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