In November of my senior year of High School, my best friend, Tommy, unexpectedly took his own life. He came from a loving family, did exceptionally well in school, and had a bright future ahead of him. Nothing about him would have otherwise indicated that he was suffering from any type of mental illness. As I grew older and learned more about psychology and mental health, I learned that this is not uncommon, for even the seemingly happiest people to be battling the darkest of demons.
Tommy and I were born literally hours apart from the same hospital. Although we did not meet again until 13 years later, we immediately shared a fraternal bond that could not be broken. We traveled together, we studied together, we ate, drank, laughed, and shared memories together until his last day.
His suicide was the most traumatic event of my life and until today, I have only told the closest of my current friends and family what happened because it is profoundly difficult for me to talk about. As a healthcare provider, it is my duty to raise awareness and stress the importance of addressing issues early on in order to prevent more serious consequences. I believe that the same must be done for mental health and this is why I have chosen to break out of my shell and tell you my story in order to raise awareness for the importance of mental health.
Mental health is real and is every bit as important as your systemic health. Depression is not a weakness, nor is anxiety, ADD, or PTSD. Psychologists and psychiatrists are there to keep you healthy just as much as your medical doctors and must be sought out if you or someone you know is dealing with a mental condition or ailment.
In recent times, I have found it encouraging and uplifting to see athletes and celebrities alike open up about their own personal struggles and to shed light on the importance of seeking help and spreading awareness. From athletes such as DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Love, and Aubrey Huff, to celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, and Ryan Reynolds, struggling with mental health conditions is not uncommon and is not something that one should ever ignore.
My best friend from high school, Tommy Fuss, will have turned 30 this year, hours after I did in February. This June, my wife, Liza, and I will be joining Tommy’s family, along with our other high school friends, in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in Boston. It is a 16 mile fundraising evening walk that culminates with the sun rising at the finish line.
Liza and I will be aiming to raise $1000 each to benefit the AFSP where proceeds will go towards supporting research for the treatment and prevention of mental health conditions as well as providing education and advocacy programs to raise mental health awareness.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and please consider making a donation for a cause that is very important and meaningful to me. Thank you for your support and I hope that you are doing well.