In the last several months, I have received multiple anonymous notes from people suffering under the stigma of a criminal record or the accusations of criminal activity. Some have said they are dependent upon substances, several have said they wish they had access to help.
Each has mentioned suicide.
To those who have written me:
Thank you for reaching out. Talking about suicide and self-harm takes bravery; recovery is impossible to do alone.
I imagine you feel this is too hard, I imagine you feel like you’re being swallowed whole. You’ve told me that you’ve been told you’re worthless, that you feel hopeless. Criminal records, comments from family members, dismissals from medical or legal professionals, and comments from classmates, coworkers, or prospective employers may make you feel unable to truly live in the present, much less dream of a future.
You are not alone.
You are not your past.
Know that there are people in this world who rise everyday to fight for you. To end the War on Drugs; to decriminalize mental illness; to increase and support community-based, effective and affordable mental healthcare; to create second–and first–chances for millions of people burdened by criminal records; to empower you to regain control of your life.
We may not know each other, but you matter to us. We need you in this world.
Thank you for reaching out. Don’t stop reaching out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1.800.237.TALK(8255); visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/international.aspx for help outside of the US.
And never, ever give up.