Photo: Courtesy of Jay Barnett
Septemeber is Suicide Prevention Month. Author and speaker Jay Barnett recently shared his personal story to his social media followers. From the outside here’s this handsome and accomplished male who has garnered an impressive speakers platform, created mentoring programs for men and women and invited by the likes of Tom Joyner to spread his message of empowerment through his books: Letters to a Young Queen: Redefining Their Throne and Finding Our Lost Kings and Queens: Strategies for Empowering Our Future Kings & Queens to help reach our lost youth. But things were not always so great. Before his words of motivation could take root in the lives of others Jay had to deal (in God) with his own demons of depression to overcome his relationship with suicide. In his own words, his story tells how he quit hopelessness and began to court his destiny.
Death would whisper in my ear and I would listen like a student taking instructions from a teacher.
Three years before this picture I survived a cutting incident and 4 years after I would survive a drug overdose. If you look into my eyes in this photo you can see a dark tunnel hidden behind the brown shade. On the outside, it looks as if I have everything together but little did people know that demons would appear in the midnight hours. Depression would knock on my door and I would gladly answer because I felt as if I had nothing to live for. Struggling with daddy issues, rejection, verbal abuse, and the divorce of my parents. Death would whisper in my ear and I would listen like a student taking instructions from a teacher. Thoughts of suicide were daily meditations and my fascination of dying grew immensely.
On the inside, I was crying out for help but no one could hear my cry because I look like I was ok. My depression and suicide thoughts started when I was a teen. The devil knew I had a great purpose so he started early planting seeds of defeat. Today, I’m a living testimony that God is able to heal the broken-hearted. There are many men of color that are battling mental illness and they feel trapped. Because it’s taboo in the African America culture to talk about suicide and mental illness. It’s important to have an open dialogue because it can save lives.
I recently lost my football teammate to suicide. I don’t take it for granted that God allowed me to live through my attempts. I have spent the last 3 years sharing my story to encourage and educate on depression.
This month is suicide prevention and my story is a truth that I share to save lives. Every human on this planet has a purpose because God is intentional. I encourage everyone to speak life into every person you meet because you never know what an individual is going through. “Your life matters because you have a purpose.”
If you are someone you know is suffering from depression or having suicidal thoughts please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
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