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To Jessika Carter: You are not alone

Hi, this is Zack Ward, site manager at Swish Appeal. I am taking a moment to raise awareness about mental health and thank Jessika Carter for sending good vibes by announcing that she has combatted and defeated suicidal thoughts. I too have fought that battle.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 08 SEC Women’s Tournament - Mississippi State vs South Carolina
Jessika Carter
Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Tuesday, Mississippi State forward/center Jessika Carter revealed on Instagram that she is a survivor of two suicide attempts, one in July and one two weeks ago in November.

On Wednesday night, during halftime of the Iowa/Iowa State women’s basketball game, ESPNU reported on Carter’s Instagram post and had broadcaster Carolyn Peck come on to talk about the importance of monitoring the mental health of student athletes.

Mental health awareness has gained steam in recent years, as our society continues to move toward embracing the idea that mental health is health. I am so thankful that Carter is OK and that she said in her Instagram post that she is “here to stay.” Her revelation reminds us of the importance of being there to talk to our loved ones and taking mental health seriously. In addition, it will hopefully lift the spirits of anyone going through a tough time, help prevent future suicide attempts and raise awareness of this issue.

I am also a survivor of multiple suicide attempts, so Carter’s experience resonates with me. I am proof that she is not the only one in the women’s basketball community who has struggled with suicidal thoughts and there shouldn’t be any stigma surrounding people who go through that. Also, I am happy to declare that I too am here to stay.

Mental health is a topic that Las Vegas Aces superstar A’ja Wilson discussed in her Players’ Tribune piece “Dear Black Women,” which came out in March. Wilson revealed that she has experienced panic attacks and reminded us that it’s OK to be vulnerable. The following are excerpts from the piece:

I witnessed it with my own mother when I was a kid. She could’ve had the hardest day at work, but when she came home at night, it was all smiles. You would never catch her slipping. Never see her sweat.

How many of us fall into that same pattern? I mean, I have this vision for myself that I feel like I have to meet — not as a basketball player, but as a Black woman in America. As A’ja. I feel like I need to handle every situation with grace and poise and positivity. I can’t let them catch me losing my cool, right?

... Yes, I battled depression.

After an MVP season.

Yes, I had panic attacks.

After an MVP season.

... You can be vulnerable and still be the MVP.

You can be vulnerable and still be the CEO.

You can be vulnerable and still be in the White House.

You don’t have to put the mask on every morning.

... let me just say it loud, for anybody in the back who needs to hear it today….

You are enough.

No, no no ... more than enough.

As a matter of fact, the best is yet to come.

Later in March, Swish Appeal’s Cat Ariail wrote an article analyzing what “Dear Black Women” means to the mental health awareness movement. Wilson is such an important role model in the women’s basketball community and her words carry a lot of weight. She should be commended for sharing her story and raising awareness.

So today, I just wanted to take the time to also raise awareness, as I have been inspired by Wilson and Carter to do so.

Mental health is health. We all need to be there to look out for each other and together we can end suicide.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255 and is available 24 hours a day.