“I walked through the halls thinking nobody would notice that, mentally, I was not there — until she did. One teacher took me out of class one day, sat me down and just simply said what she saw. She said she noticed the bubbly personality that used to walk through her door was just not there. She shared her own experiences and made me realize that people care. That act of kindness from her and many other teachers kept my head above water. They sat and listened, and they noticed a change in the way I acted before I was able to see it myself. Without hesitation, they were there to listen and give me advice. 
A friend of mine [completed suicide] when we were around 12 years old. At that age, I didn’t know what the word suicide meant. All I had were the adults around me who moved on fairly quickly. So like them, I did, too. Little did I know these feelings would all come back later. 
I’m glad I can say things have changed for me. I’ve had first and second-hand experience with what mental [illness] can do, which has only made me fight harder to raise awareness and start a conversation that might be uncomfortable for some. Sharing my stories and experiences with others has made me realize how important that conversation is. I hope I can share my story with people so they can be comfortable sharing theirs, too.