AUBURN, Ala.- For Jack and Sutton Smith, the topic of suicide awareness is one that hits close to home.
Sutton said her father has dealt with mental illness for most of his life. She said while she was in ninth grade her father attempted suicide, and he tried again while she was in tenth grade. The Smith’s said it left a major impact on the family.
Sutton said the experience shaped her as a person. Smith, an Auburn High School senior said she is part of a club called AHS Confidential. The group meets every other week to talk about struggles they may be going through in their lives. She said they wanted a way to bring awareness to issues in a way that resonated with the students. That is how their discussion Tuesday night came about.
Sutton and her father spoke to a crowd at the Auburn Alumni Center to tell their family’s story, and show how it affected their lives and how they are coping.
The Smith’s say the subject is one that is not talked about very much, and it has a stigma attached to it.
“Stigma is a dangerous thing, ” Jack Smith said. “Majority of people who suffer from mental illness never seek treatment, and it’s probably due to the stigma. That is really unfortunate. It is a public health problem that we need to address. The more people who are willing to tell their story, the more we can normalize this discussion of mental illness just like physical illness because mental illness and the less impact the stigma has.”
The father-daughter combo hopes that talking about it can shed a light on the matter and can make a difference in the lives of others.
“I think it is kind of a privilege to be able to share everything because it gives it all a purpose and allows me to go back and say that whole process sucked, but on the other side, it’s going to have blessings come from it if I can do anything to impact someone else,” Sutton said.
The Smith’s will be speaking throughout November to Auburn High School students about their story, and they hope to have another event in spring.