UNITED STATES—Mental health is something we keep talking about, but I honestly feel as if we’re not having the conversation we really need to have to address the issue head on. The reason I really want to discuss this issue is because I was utterly stunned to turn on the local news last week to discover one of the meteorologists had passed away, as a result of suicide. To say I was stunned was an understatement. I could not even compose myself for a good 30 minutes, because the news punched me in the gut in a way that I never expected.

Out of respect for the meteorologist and her family, I will not disclose the name. However, I was utterly pleased with the local news station addressing the news and not speeding over it. They discussed what they knew transpired, in addition to sharing their emotions and their reactions to the news. It was gut-wrenching to watch, as they shared their anger and sadness over the passing of their colleague. The biggest issue that rose was the signs had to be there and was there more one could do to address the issue.

I think that is something many of us grapple with all the time. We’d like to think our loved ones and friends are ok if we’re checking in with them on a daily basis and they haven’t given any indications of struggles. However, that is the issue with depression and suicide; sometimes people are really great at hiding things. So how do you combat them? Well you talk, and if you get even the slightest hint that your loved one has had discussions about taking their life or not wanting to live anymore, you can’t push that to the side. You have to dig deeper, you have to find out what might be going on in the mind and get them the appropriate help.

If someone tosses out words that frighten you, you have a reason to be frightened because you don’t say certain things unless you feel them or you’ve been thinking about them in recent days or weeks. Failure to acknowledge a potential problem can only lead to bigger problems down the road. We need to eliminate this concept that “I’m too good to speak to a therapist.” There is nothing wrong with speaking to a therapist and society needs to stop shunning those who do see a therapist.

That is one of the biggest issues that so many face; the notion of being labeled crazy or unstable because they’re seeing a therapist. We need to eliminate that negative stigma. When you stigmatize someone it leads to labeling and labeling is dangerous because it can lead to major misconceptions that are sometimes impossible to grapple with. I mean I spoke to a therapist after being robbed because I had all these emotions that I felt were bottled up and I needed to get them out. I was angry, I was anxious, I was nervous, I was fearful and I needed some way to express my emotions instead of just keeping them bottled up.

I mean news broke over the weekend about “Saturday Night Live” alum Pete Davidson who sent out a tweet that concerned many people about his mental health. As a result, his cast mates, celebrities and complete strangers sent out words of wisdom and concern to lift the comic’s spirits. When you see potentially troubling signs you cannot ignore them. That notion to ignore something of importance is a hint of things you should have saw that you overlooked because you thought it was just gibberish.  This conversation is to spark a dialogue about issues pertaining to mental health, depression and suicide. If you know someone who is struggling or in need of assistance don’t just toss the notion that they’ll be okay. Talk to them, find out what is troubling them and get them the appropriate help they need. Do not ignore signs if you see them because it can be the difference between life and death.

Written By Kelsey Thomas