Kristina Yates is a 64 year old licensed managing family therapist and small dog boarder in Oakland, California. We talk below about how important it is to speak out, and the differences between mental health awareness in the 1960s versus what it looks like today.
I think people need to be talking about suicide a lot. I mean, I never told anybody. I didn’t feel I had a friend. I never told anybody in high school how I felt.
I think it’s… well, it’s traumatic for everybody and when people do succeed at suicide, it’s really hard on people left behind. It’s just a big, important subject and our culture’s all about “be happy, be happy,” and I mean, I feel that way about a lot of things.
I think all this stuff needs to be talked about. I think it’s really, really important to share and I’m really glad I did not die. And I do not consider suicide to be an option. I am really glad because I can’t say that I’m the happiest person around, but I’m just glad, and I feel my body didn’t want to die… that I was just in emotional anguish.
Des: You’re awfully resilient.
Kristina: Yeah, my body just… oh, but there was no help.
I remember Reverend Overton wanted to get a second opinion, so I was at this hospital. We were all in a circle and a microphone was hanging from the ceiling, and [there were] all these doctors. The doctor–I will always remember this–this is after I cut my wrist. The doctor said, “Well, you’re a beautiful young lady and you just did a very violent thing to yourself. Can you tell me about your problems?”
I said, “I don’t have any problems.”
I was that shut down. I wasn’t thinking, ‘You jerk.’
Des: Tell me the difference between how we look at suicide now versus what it was like then.
Kristina: So, how I view it differently.
Des: How you view it, yes, and how you feel society does.
Kristina: There’s certainly more acceptance around suicide and suicide attempts and more attention on it, that’s for sure, than there was back then. Back then, everything was hush-hush.
For me now, philosophically, I don’t really think it’s the answer. I don’t think it’s gonna solve anything and so I would never consider it. I have a lot more options now as an adult. I know how to seek out help and take care of myself and that sort of thing. It’s really just not an option.
If you would like to download the full text of Kristina’s story in PDF format, click here.
If you’re feeling suicidal, please talk to somebody. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.