Trigger Warning: This piece discusses depression and suicidal ideation, which may be triggering to survivors or to the family and/or friends of victims. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please seek help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-hours a day at 1-800-273-8255 for assistance.
“While it’s important to remember that mental illnesses can’t simply be cured by spreading positivity, being nice to people can make someone’s bad days more bearable. Just showing a little compassion for other people’s feelings can do wonders for helping reduce the stigma that mental health has.”
These are the words of Carrie Shade, a mental health advocate who founded the Against Suicide movement when she was just 14 years old. In 2011, Carrie lost her best friend to suicide and decided that she needed to do something to help other people who are struggling.
Against Suicide stems from Carrie’s goal of changing lives and showing people that they have the power to make a difference. The now 22-year-old acknowledges that stigma can often impact people and their ability to seek treatment, so she ultimately aims to “encourage people to learn more about mental health and mental illness.”
Carrie believes that an important part of tackling the stigma surrounding mental health is talking about it openly.
“Anyone can be affected by a mental illness, either by themselves or through someone they love,” she said. “People that are struggling are not worth any less and it’s important to take care of ourselves and others.”
Against Suicide won the Shorty Award for Activism in 2014 and 2015. This award recognizes Carrie and her movement for starting social media campaigns such as #ThoseWhoNeedIt, #StayingClean, and #ProjectLG.
#ProjectLG stands for Project Life Guard, which is an online support group that stemmed from these campaigns and aims to help people get through the hardest parts of their lives. To participate, people just write #ProjectLG in their social media bios to show others that they are there to help.
Against Suicide has also opened a small online merchandise store. The shirts are meant to show the world that people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about depression and that all mental illness should be taken seriously.
Although Against Suicide doesn’t currently have an offline component. Carrie said that she has ideas in mind to expand the movement in the future.
Through social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, this movement has been able to reach over 250,000 people. Over the years, the overall message has stayed the same, but the tone has shifted.
Carrie says that it has “transformed from cheesy and cute inspirational quotes…
There is a superhero inside all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape <3
— Against Suicide (@AgainstSuicide) December 28, 2011
… to relatable messages that will leave you thinking for a while.”
You don’t have to be super productive every day. You don’t have to have the best day of your life every day. You don’t have to accomplish a million goals every day.
You just have to keep trying your best, and you’ll get exactly where you need to be.
— Against Suicide (@AgainstSuicide) August 14, 2018
As for why this movement is virtual, Carrie says that there isn’t really a specific reason. She just wanted to put something positive into the world and she never actually expected it to take off the way that it did. For her, Twitter was “like a blank canvas” where she could create and advocate for a cause she believes in
This movement has inspired young people, cultivated friendships, and encouraged kindness in everyday life.
When it comes to kindness, Carrie believes that small acts can have a greater impact than grand gestures.
“I make an effort to smile at people as much as I can, even if I don’t know them well or really at all,” she said. “People that are struggling are not worth any less. It’s important to take care of others — and yourself — whenever necessary. Just showing a little compassion for other people can do wonders for helping reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health.”