[Photo by: Andrew Bastion]
Laura Jane Grace wants you to keep living.
For those unaware, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and when Grace spoke over the phone with Alternative Press recently, she opened up about her own relationship with recognizing suicidal thoughts and working through them so she remained alive and her mental health became stronger.
When asked what advice she could give to people who are fighting suicidal thoughts or behaviors, the Against Me! lead singer first began with an honest statement. “I’m, in many ways, really thankful to have hit rock bottom, emotionally, in that sense — to have had like a suicidal nervous breakdown and to have completely lost it,” she says. “It was a place of understanding that took me a long time of working with trained professionals, with psychotherapists, to get to a place of acceptance where you can have empowerment from that; where, once you find the edge and you can see over the other side, why not fuckin’ stick around and see what happens?” The decision, to stay and see what happens on the road of life is precisely the advice that Grace wants to pass on to fans, readers and others looking for guidance.
But more than this, that realization became pivotal in her own journey away from suicidal thoughts or behaviors. “When I had that realization, it was really freeing because then it was like all my inhibitions dropped in a lot of ways because it was like realizing where the door was and that I could leave at any time; it was almost then like, ‘I wanna stay and see what happens, and fuck it.’”
Grace acknowledges that she was able to get away from her suicidal thoughts with the help of a professional. While admitting that finding the right mental health professional is a process and perhaps out of reach for some, she ultimately urges people who need help to ask for it and seek it no matter what. “Coming to that place or getting to that place, I couldn’t really have gotten there if I had reached out and talked to someone. In this case, it was professionals like psychotherapists, and I know that’s not always an option for people. And I know sometimes even if it is an option, like the person or professionals that you get to talk to aren’t very helpful, it can be like getting bad advice or not really looking out for your best interests. In my experience, what was really important was vocalizing how I felt, talking about it and talking out loud and not having it all internalized and locked up inside my head. It was really just saying it out loud and putting myself out there in a way that was really beneficial.”
And in the end, it’s Grace’s final words on the topic that hit home the hardest: “But I just tell people all the time: ‘Stay alive. Just stay alive.’”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, there is help to be found. Please consider these online resources and talk to your regular doctor about your symptoms:
MentalHealth.gov - Get Immediate Help
ImAlive - Online Crisis Network
International Association For Suicide Prevention - Resources
The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America
The National Alliance On Mental Illness
American Psychiatric Association - Finding Help
National Institute Of Mental Health
American Psychological Association - Psychologist locator