Brandy Vega: Make a promise to help stop stigma and save lives

World Suicide Prevention Day falls on Sept. 10, but we can’t afford to wait. Too many lives are at stake.

Editor’s noteThis article discusses suicide. If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for 24-hour support.

As the founder of Good Deed Revolution, I am writing to you today with a plea that is both urgent and heartfelt. It’s time we take a stand against an issue that’s been silently stealing lives for far too long.

Suicide. A word that sends chills down our spines. Yet, it’s not a distant horror. It’s happening right here in our communities, every 11 minutes according to CDC reports. From 1999 to 2019, suicide rates in the U.S. surged by 33%. Since 2010, the suicide rate among kids aged 10 to 17 has spiked by 71%. Social media, online bullying, the isolation brought on by COVID-19, smartphones, lack of connection — the reasons are numerous and complex.

Every year, more than 700,000 people choose to end their own lives.

Men, particularly those aged 45-54 and over 85, are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. But let me be clear: Suicide does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone.

One more suicidal death is one too many, and that’s why we established Promise2Live.org — to help people make a promise to live. And to do it publicly, thus increasing the chances that the promise will stick.

World Suicide Prevention Day falls on Sept. 10, but we can’t afford to wait. Too many lives are at stake. There are remarkable resources available, like the recently launched emergency hotline, 988. Yet, only about 18% know about it. We need to change that. By making a promise to live and sharing it on social media, we can stop the stigma, start conversations and save lives.

I speak from personal experience. My child attempted suicide at the tender age of 12. It was a terrifying ordeal, one that I had to face again two years later with her. The stigma, shame and guilt made it even more excruciating. But my child survived, and I realized the power of speaking out. Sharing our story saved lives, as other parents reached out to say that it had prompted them to intervene and prevent their own children’s suicide attempts.

Our community lost a 10-year-old in 2021. It’s a heartbreaking reminder that mental health issues don’t discriminate. No matter your age, race, wealth or gender, you are not immune. But you can make a difference.

The ray of hope is the solution can start with something as simple as a promise because the power of a promise is profound. Studies show that people are significantly more likely to keep a promise. That’s why Promise2Live.org encourages everyone to make a promise to reach out when they’re feeling sad, depressed or suicidal. It’s a simple act, but it could be the lifeline someone needs when they are exactly in a moment of despair.

But this is not just about making a promise. It’s about sharing it. It’s about showing others that it’s okay to talk about mental health, to admit when we’re struggling and to ask for help.

Make a promise today. Not just for yourself, but for your loved ones and for all those who are silently struggling. Visit Promise2Live.org to make your pledge, and then share it.

Let’s spread the word and create a ripple effect of hope and resilience.

You might not love yourself enough when you’re going through this. But you might love someone else enough to keep your promise to them. And that promise might just buy us the time we need to get help.

Let’s start a revolution of good deeds that starts with a promise to live. Together, we can stop the stigma, start conversations and save lives.

Brandy Vega

Brandy Vega is an entrepreneur, media guru, mother, philanthropist, advocate and founder of Good Deed Revolution, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health and suicide prevention.