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Breaking the silence around mental illness and suicide

Published: April 28, 2012
Section: (Audio/Video), Features


August 31, 2010, was one of the most frightening nights of my life. When my roommate, Lily Nagy-Deak, left our suite, I had no idea that a few hours later we would receive frantic phone calls from her friends that something was wrong. Did we know where Lily was? Soon thereafter, there was a loud knock on our door from the campus police. But it wasn’t until I walked through the door of Lily’s room—she had left it open—that I finally pieced it together. That’s when another roommate and I found it, sitting on her desk: a suicide note. Thankfully, we got a call later that evening that Lily had been found; she was alive and safe. The police stopped by the suite again, and this time they emerged with a large Ziploc bag filled with assorted bottles of pills.

When Lily returned to campus after her hospital stay, we never spoke about her suicide attempt. A year-and-a-half later, I spoke with Lily via Skype and she told me her side of the story. She told me not only about that one August day, but also about how she has lived with bipolar disorder. Lily could have chosen to speak anonymously, but she felt that doing so would defeat her whole purpose: to combat the stigma and silence surrounding mental illness.

Hearing Lily’s voice conveys her story in a way that words on a page cannot.