This week for #WarriorWednesday, Lucabella LaEace shared her mental health story, her experience with suicide loss, and how she’s working to stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. See what she has to say below!
While I may not remember much about the details of the event that occurred when I was just 10 years old, there is one thing I have never been able to forget… hearing my mom say, “Lucabella, when your PaPa died, it was because he died by suicide.” Later that night, I went outside to look at the stars as I always did with my PaPa, and in a moment of confusion, anger, and pain, I cried out, “Why weren’t we enough? The reality is, depression is a sickness, and suicide is the final symptom. I was 13 when I learned the truth about PaPa’s cause of death, and just as I struggled at that moment with the question – “Why weren’t we enough?” – admittedly, I still do wrestle with it at times. Therefore, it is my mission to break the mental health stigma and help others who have lost loved ones to cope with their grief. In doing so, I am advocating for increased mental health education within schools and for greater access to mental healthcare. How am I doing this?
- by serving as a board member for 1N5’s Youth Council for Suicide Prevention (YCSP) where we are dedicated to the mission of preventing suicide by erasing the stigma of mental illness and promoting optimal mental wellness;
- by operating active social media campaigns for Cincinnati YCSP in support of the vision Stop the Stigma; Start the Conversation;
- by visiting classrooms to share age-appropriate messages, books, and resources as catalysts for crucial conversations and for recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression;
- by contributing to the Ohio AFSP committee as we urge state legislators to increase funding for crisis support services and lobby to implement 988 as both the new phone number for mental health emergencies and as the National Suicide Hotline;
- by becoming a certified suicide prevention specialist through Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
I am eager to leverage the mental health movement with the power of the Miss America Organization and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program to broaden the scope of reach at the national level. I am wholeheartedly committed to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide.