Guest column: Advocating more discussion around suicide

Jimmy Miller is the sports editor of The Kent Stater. Contact him at

Jimmy Miller is the sports editor of The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Jimmy Miller

I’m not known for how seriously I approach things in life. In fact, I’m usually the one to crack a joke in the middle of a sad scene at the movies or offer a one-liner when approached by someone in absolute hysterics. You probably wouldn’t call me the life of the party, but I’m definitely the clown of just about any group. It’s a role I definitely embrace.

But there are issues that transcend jokes or one-liners. There are issues that completely rattle me, and what I’m writing about today should rattle you, too: It’s time we fully embrace a serious conversation about suicide.

I’m not saying we haven’t made great strides in how our society approaches this problem. Kent State hosted an Out of Darkness Walk on Saturday, which partially prompted my column on this matter. Seeing events like these are encouraging, and I can’t stress enough how much I’d love to see more events like this on our campus.

But that is the key word in all of this: more. I think it’s important we start talking about suicide on a more personal level and with each other. I don’t necessarily have the solution, but I think we need to find a way to shed light on this topic or to remove the taboo tag suicide often carries with it.

When I’m not typing an article or cramming a Chipotle burrito into my face, I’m usually coaching a few Speech and Debate kids at my old high school. Last year, I saw firsthand what kind of an effect suicide could have on others: I witnessed an entire student body shocked by the last decision a young girl decided to make. It hit just about everybody on the team hard, but I’d say most of all her best friend, who grew up with her and lived with her in the sense that they essentially became sisters. The two weren’t related by blood, but they were certainly related by the heart.

This girl I coach dealt with a whirlwind of emotions I could have never imagined. For more than just the fact that she can bench press more than me, she is without a doubt the strongest girl I’ve ever met. But strength has its limitations. Strength gives way to weaknesses. I’m sure she will admit suicide is a difficult subject to bring up.

After seeing this happen firsthand, I’ve waited for an opportunity to write about this issue or find a reason to talk about it. Yet, that’s part of the issue. I’ll admit, I felt like I needed to find a reason to discuss suicide, but we can’t do that anymore.

While it’s not exactly dinner table talk material, it becomes more evident to me each day we need to stand up and talk about prevention and how to use more sensitivity. We need to talk about how to embrace survivors and how to reach out to those who are affected by a loved one’s suicide.

The solution isn’t clear, as there is also not one clear path to committing suicide, but I know we will really benefit as a society to be more open to talking about it. Attend events similar to Out of Darkness. Be sensitive toward this issue. Most of all be an advocate for more conversation, because without it, we are allowing an issue so prevalent in our society to be nothing more than an elephant in the room.

Contact Jimmy Miller at [email protected].