Please take a few moments to read: *Trigger Warning ⚠️; talk of suicide, attempt of suicide*
Another Dr. Phil plug today. As I’ve mentioned many times before (and just as recently as a month ago), I love Dr. Phil, I tape his show every day and would give just about anything to meet him which is still something I am clinging to as many of you may recall that for my birthday in June of 2019, Rich and the kids bought me front row seats to see him live and on stage in Niagara Falls that November but due to a scheduling conflict his show was rescheduled for May of 2020 just a week before we were set to see him…and well we all know what happened next; Covid happened and there has yet to be a new date announced! I’ve still got the tickets and until we get a notification that it’s been cancelled I will hold out for hope that one day, sooner rather than later, he returns!!!
Anyways, back to why I really started talking about Dr. Phil. This week he did a two part episode which he spent talking about the overwhelming mental health crisis in teens and young adults today. He had several guests speakers on over the 2 day period but there was one guest in particular who I can’t stop thinking about. Her name is Emma Benoit. She is 22. She attempted to take her life when she was 16 years old. Thankfully she survived but she is now confined to a wheelchair.
She told Dr. Phil that she had an instant regret when she made the choice to take her life 5 yrs ago. Emma, like so many people who are contemplating suicide don’t really want to die, they just want their pain to go away; a feeling I know all too well and although she may have only been 16 at the time of her attempt, the narrative she told herself in the weeks and months leading up to it sounded eerily familiar to me. She said she felt like a burden and that everyone would be better off without her. On the outside Emma was always smiling and had a seemingly perfect life. She was a cheerleader, popular and beautiful; who would’ve ever taken her seriously she thought, what could she possibly have to be depressed about, which was why she never felt safe to open up to anyone for fear she’d be judged, including by her loving and supportive family because she was never taught that it’s okay to have these feelings and that even people like herself can have these feelings or that there is actually someone out there willing and wanting to listen.
To further add to the conversation, Dr. Phil invited Ross Szabo to speak alongside Emma. Ross is an award winning mental health speaker, advocate and author who spoke about 2 very important topics. First, he spoke about the new 9-8-8 suicide and crisis lifeline which for now is only available in the States but in the short time this new platform has been available, statistics show that there has been a 40 percent increase in the amount of callers. So it’s proven to work, only needing to dial 3 digits when in crisis as opposed to a 10 digit 1-800 number can be lifesaving and I look forward to this new and very effective pilot project making its way across the border soon.
The latter part of the show led to another very important discussion we need to be having which is in regards to implementing more mental health education in schools today; teaching students about mental health awareness, teaching students coping mechanisms for real life challenges and stressors, teaching students how to overcome the stigma, teaching students to recognize when things are off balance or out of order for them, teaching students what is okay and what is not okay in their home, teaching so students are more aware of what healthy normal thoughts sound like and what do not. These teachings need to extend into every student’s home as well in order to also help normalize conversations in their home so they feel safe if and when they need to ask for help and that they know it’s more than okay to ask for help.
Emma, much like myself has found purpose in telling her story and we share a similar goal, hoping that by sharing our own pain and suffering it will encourage someone else to stand up and say, “I too have those same feelings and thoughts”. If even just one person listening reaches out for help without any shame or stigma attached is worth it all and I’m pretty sure her appearance on the Dr. Phil show in front of millions of viewers may have helped save that one life yesterday, along with plenty more!
Her powerful and brave journey toward healing is now being shared with the world in a feature length documentary that was released last year called “My Ascension”.
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