What I did after my friends committed suicide
When I was fifteen, I lost two friends to suicide.
Needless to say, it was a devastating experience. In the months following their deaths, I decided to learn as much as I could about mental health. I learned that suicide is a leading cause of death and that one of the biggest contributors to the number of suicides is untreated mental illness. That year, I decided to start an organization dedicated to raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. What started as a small grassroots effort grew as I realized how many people related to my story. I wanted people to know that there are resources available and that people care.
I worked really hard every day after school to launch an awareness campaign with celebrities like Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Colbie Caillat, Ingrid Michaelson, and Eli Young Band. I also worked to put together a compilation CD that featured empowering songs from 10 different music artists including Chase Rice and Green River Ordinance.
Over and over, I met people that shared their hearts and stories. The common theme was that people need each other and that no matter what we go through, there is hope.
I am now 24 and incredibly passionate about mental health initiatives. Over the years, I have seen just how important conversations about mental health are. People need to know that they are not alone and that there is help if they need it.
I want my story to inspire other people to take the tragedy in their lives and turn it into something that makes a difference. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what matters to you because it may help others feel less alone. Also, never be afraid to ask for help. One person can make a powerful difference in the lives of others. It takes courage, determination, and hard work, but everything we go through can be transformed into something positive. Never lose sight of how much your life matters—it could be the story that makes someone else say, “Me too!”
I am launching a new line of apparel called Jai Collective that benefits nonprofit organizations that I believe in. Our mission is to empower people to live with a spirit of victory. You can check it out and read more of my story at www.jaicollective.com and connect with me on Instagram (@KelseyKinsel).
Are you having suicidal thoughts? For immediate help, call 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is open 24 hours a day, and also offers a lifeline chat you can access online.
Have you ever lost someone to suicide? Share your stories below.