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Community Voices

Content Warning
‘Community Voices’ is a new part of Suicide Prevention Week where we share messages from fellow Longhorns to promote mutual support, healing, and community-building. As you read these messages, please take care and be aware that some of these messages may include content about losing someone to suicide or struggling with suicidal thoughts. Should you experience uncomfortable or unsettling feelings as a result of reading this content, please don’t hesitate to stop reading and know that support is available. For immediate support, you can contact the following:

Select a question below to view the responses from the UT Community.



I am thinking of you, even if I haven't talked to you in a while.

Ellie J

You are worth fighting for.

You are enough. You are loved. Seek help if you are doubting either of these.

I know it's been a really difficult last few months, but reaching out to a friend or loved one or finding a new hobby to enjoy can make all the difference.

At the end of the day there is always someone who is willing to support you, even if you may not know it.

You are enough. You are resilient. Your are brave. You are strong. Please never give up. Every day is worth fighting for and there is a reason to wake up everyday. Every life is so precious, your life is so precious so remind yourself of the positives and focus on those and never let the negatives drag you down.

Vyshnavi Pottepalli

I'd want to share a reminder of the power of discovery. Even if life at the moment seems less than ideal, the prospect of being able to wipe the slate clean and start something over on my own terms reminds me that there's always something to look forward to.

Whenever I feel down, I like to look up at the night sky and admire all of the twinkling stars across the sky. They remind of the thousands of people out there who feel the same as me, want the same as me, and love the same as me. I hope this will give you a sense of unity, strength, and love, for there will always be people here to support you.

When doing is too much, being is enough.

It is okay to not be okay, especially during this time where things can feel so out of control. Though it is so much easier said than done, try to take things one day at a time and treat yourself with compassion.

It's okay not to be okay. We're living through an irrational and chaotic moment. If you aren't feeling normal, it's because the world is abnormal right now. Hang on and be gentle with yourself.

Center for Asian American Studies

Extend an extraordinary amount of compassion to yourself. What you are going through is valid and difficult, and sometimes just surviving the day or week is a victory. Give yourself the space you need to heal, and seek the resources (whether it be professional or not) that will help ease your burden. You are worth it.

Hey there! I know we haven't met, but I just want to let you know that this message is for you. It can get really hectic, especially during these past few months where every day is a new challenge. However, despite it all, your presence brightens up someone's world. Your personality brings joy and spreads love at a stage where the world needs that so much. I can't tell you that it is going to be okay, but I can tell you that it can get better, because you are a resilient person who has the grit and perseverance to knock down barriers! I appreciate you and am sending a virtual hug!

Don't be afraid of seeking help from your friends, family, or professionals. We all need some support at some point or another. Seeking help actually makes you a stronger individual!

Kevin

I know everything feels extremely rocky right now, but hang in there! Focus on one day at a time and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We're all going through this together and we will get through it together too!

Aleena Jamal (Healthyhorns Peer Educator)

Any hardships you're encountering are temporary. Push through the pain and grow from the experience. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

Irena

What you accomplished today was enough. You are enough just as you are. In fact you being in this world makes me happier just knowing it.

Irena

You are loved, cherished, and appreciated. Bloom wherever you are planted!

That no matter how alone they feel, there are people who care and love them. Talking to a loved one and sharing how you feel is possible, as well as looking for resources for professionals who will be able to help with whatever you need.

Nabeeha Engineer

Let yourself be free from expectations for a while. You don't need to know where you're going in life to just live. Things don't have to fit any definition of "perfect" for you to be happy, because you deserve happiness no matter what. Take time for yourself, and reach out for support when you need it.

Even when things are looking dark and you feel like you're falling deeper into a hole, remember that even when you're in falling, you can always see a little sunshine. Pull yourself towards the light by remembering the people who love you, things that you are thankful for, and encourage yourself to look at the world in a positive lens.

In the moment, we often believe the most darkest of times are things we cannot overcome and get through. In the moment, it is hard and it is tough, but I believe that you have to continue pushing through. One day, you'll look back and you'll see how far you've come and how much you've accomplished.

Some days are a lot harder to get through than others. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and breathe. Cut yourself some slack, and look at how far you've come. You're doing great, and things will get better even if it takes some time.

Daisy Kielty (Longhorn Wellness Peer Educator)

You are not alone. There are people out there who understand what you're going through. Functioning day to day can be so hard sometimes, but I'm glad that you're still here. You're strong and you're capable.

Mackenzie Ulam

You are loved, you are beautiful, and I promise you that even though you can’t see through the pain or the darkness that surrounds you, the feelings will pass. Just hold on one more day, one more week, one more month, one more year. And keep holding on. Take one step at a time, do the next right thing, and you will be so thankful for it.

Jordan

When you are in crisis mode, everything feels eternal. You may feel like you will never get out of this crisis, but you will. Things will get better, your brain might be saying otherwise, but they will.

It's very easy to feel isolated and alone in this time. Know that even if it doesn't feel like it, you are loved and cared for, even if it isn't always apparent.

I can't imagine the pain you're experiencing right now. However, I do know that it's not yours to carry alone. People care about you and want to listen. Asking for help is brave and courageous, never a burden.

Lori

Maybe you don’t always have to be hopeful about the future. Maybe being curious about all that’s coming is all you need sometimes.

Ruth Befekadu

To anyone going through something difficult, I would say to lean on the people who support you. Life is really tough and exhausting right now, but being honest about how you’re feeling, accepting help, and trusting others can make a huge difference.

There is no greater problem/concern that you can not overcome. First and foremost start your day with meditation, reflection and encouraging yourself audibly. Lift yourself up by proclaiming words of strength, power, positivity and confidence. Watch programs that provide laughter which will also lighten and brighten your attitude.

It will get better. - We are learning that this is more than a marathon than anything else. So actively taking care of yourself everyday; at different points of the day, is what we are all needing.

Zach Markizer

It's okay to struggle. It's okay to not be doing okay. We may all be separated during this time, but you are not alone. Give yourself a break, or even many breaks. Life doesn't have to be a constant hustle; sometimes it's just about getting through each day and doing things that make you feel comfortable in the moment. There are always going to be ups and downs, but what matters is that life WILL come up again.

You're feelings are valid and your presence matters

I would like to share that they are not alone, that I genuinely appreciate them, and that I would be there for them whenever they need support.

As a PhD student, there is a lot of pressure to work long hours and push yourself to do brilliant work and to stand out among your (equally brilliant) peers. But as someone with chronic depression and anxiety, and who has had personal experiences with suicide, I've learned the importance of self-acceptance and setting boundaries. I try to accept that mental health challenges are a part of my life right now. While some of my peers are working 12-hour days, and sometimes past midnight, I know that for me, success also means taking care of my physical and mental health by balancing my work as a PhD student with all of the other things that make life enjoyable.

Please know the faculty are here to help.

My Dear Longhorn,
As you read this message, please take a deep long breath in...and slowly exhale. Say a little thank you to your tired feet for supporting you all day long. Close your eyes for a moment, and let them rest. Gradually turn your frown upside down and SMILE! Softly whisper a kind word to yourself as your strong arms wrap around your body. Squeeze yourself tightly. Never forget - You are doing the best that you can every single day. Remember, you are meant to change the world, but you must start with taking care of YOU!

Sukaina

It's ok to feel this way and it's ok to get help to feel better. We all have our moments and this will get better too.

Eric Bowles

You're loved, you're wanted, and you're valuable just for being you. Don't ever forget that.

It may not seem like it, but you are not alone. You are part of the UT community and there are a lot of people who care about how you are! I am one of them. I also want you to remember that stress and anxiety are valid reactions to stressful times. It may seem like no one is going through it like you are, but you're not alone in this. Reach out and share what is going on with you. Others may be grateful to hear they are not the only ones.

You're not alone! I know it may feel like it, but there are always people who care and want to support you. It may feel pointless, but please reach out. There will be someone who answers.

Two of my close friends killed themselves when we were college students. I still miss them profoundly: 25 years later, there's still a hole in the world where each of them used to be. What I would like to share to someone who is in the pit of despair, is that somebody, somewhere cares and wants you to exist. Hold onto that.

James Gunter

Your life, your words, your actions have meaning & value to others. There are people you've touched, inspired, or encouraged that you may even realize right now. One day you will run into someone, and they will remind you of an encounter they had with you that's stuck with them. Something you thought was so insignificant, was actually a significant moment for someone else.

Whatever your situation may be, try to take some deep breaths, relax your mind, and think of all the good and positivity that has gotten you to where you are now. While situations may be stressful, worrisome or lonely, you can get through this! Take it one day at a time, and never forget there is a whole campus of resources that are there to help you and guide you through these difficult days. Surround yourself with people, places and things that make you happy and calm because taking time to acknowledge and help your mental health is the best way to get through.

Even though I may not know you, you are a part of this community, and that means I care deeply about you. Please know that you matter to me, even if you don't know me.

It can be so overwhelming when you feel alone. Do everything you can to make a connection. There are resources for you at UT. :)

Please reach out to people who are closest to you, you are not alone! You matter.

I appreciate you being here, your presence is a such a gift.

I know things are rough right now, but they won't always be. You''ll get through this! Things really do get better with time. I hope you're able to find comfort in these trying times.

It's ok not to be ok...

Quynh-Huong Nguyen

I appreciate being able to be myself, without judgement or having to qualify my way of being.

Ellie J

What I love most about community is that you feel apart of something bigger than yourself. Something that can have greater positive impact because of the number of people involved.

I joined a spirit group my freshman year of college when I really struggling to find my place at UT. After meeting some amazing people, I found a solid group of friends and a supportive and fun community that helps me grow as a person.

That they're supportive through highs and lows

The Longhorn family is filled with compassionate individuals who are persistent in developing a safe and supportive environment. I value the students, staff, and faculty who day in and day out make the Longhorn community strong and powerful in what we are able to conquer and accomplish in various disciplines of education, health, and so much more!

Vyshnavi Pottepalli

The thing I value most about the communities I'm a part of is the feeling of knowing that I exist in spaces even when I am not physically there. Just as I think of my friends and peers when I wear a shirt from an event we attended together, or when eat our favorite late-night snack, my friends might be thinking of me when they hear our favorite song or watch our favorite guilty-pleasure reality show. It doesn't even have to be someone that I'm especially close to, but just someone that I know and associate with a particular memory. I love feeling like I'm a part of a larger community.

Moving into a new and strange city, it's amazing to find a community that can feel like home. Being a part of different communities on campus has given me the chance to stay rooted in my culture, create new relationships through shared experiences, and feel surrounded by support and love.

I value being able to bring my whole, unedited self to a community that I am a part of. I'm sure many of you can relate to this: I feel like we have to wear certain masks or be certain people for most of our day, which is okay in certain contexts (like on a zoom class meeting)! But it's really refreshing to show up to my community however I am, and not have to worry how my grade or others' perception of me will be affected.

I love my friends because they accept me for who I am, and it feels so safe to be around them.

Being a Longhorn extends beyond the 40 Acres. Being a Longhorn is a state of mind. Remember to practice altruism, kindness and patience with yourself and others during this difficult moment.

Center for Asian American Studies

In a times of division, what we have from our community are the trust, the love, the caring, and the forever yielding support for our ups and downs. Whether we are miles away from each other, a simple text or a phone call can dispel the negatives and bring forth the laughter and joy!

I value community because it ties diverse individuals together through a common denominator. It provides a safe base for me to branch off of and come back to.

I value our commitment to helping each other and offering support to those who need it. It's so valuable having a community to turn to when you're craving social connections given the current situation.

Aleena Jamal (Healthyhorns Peer Educator)

I value my community for giving me a support system that I can rely on for advice, strength, and a sense of belonging. I know my community will push me to be a better person and broaden my experiences as I continue to interact with them.

I value my community for giving me a support system that I can rely on for advice, strength, and a sense of belonging. I know my community will push me to be a better person and broaden my experiences as I continue to interact with them.

Irena

You can be in a community and not even realize it. Someone depends on you and cares about you in ways you don't even know.

I love my Latinx community because of our perseverance, love, and sense of belonging. You are always welcomed!

I value having people who support me as well as challenge the way I think. When I'm down and need someone to talk to they are always there however they do not indulge me or lean into self-deprecation. Having someone there who just listens and supports is something I treasure.

Nabeeha Engineer

Communities bring you a sense of support and belonging. It's okay if you don't have that perfect group of friends - sometimes, just one person is enough. Remember that we're all feeling a little isolated right now, so it's okay to reach out to different people - they might be thankful for it.

The members of the community are so loving, tight, and caring for one another. They're always willing to lend a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, and a smile to celebrate your happiness and accomplishments.

I value the support and the love I am able to experience through my community and my peers.

My support system has kept me afloat for the past few years. I know I can count of them on my best and worst days to give me love and encouragement. Without the people in my life, I would not be the person I am today.

Daisy Kielty (Longhorn Wellness Peer Educator)

Vulnerability within a community can be a game changer. Hearing others speak about their experiences opens up a whole new world for those who didn't realize that there are so many other people who struggle in the same ways that they do. There's so much power in shared experiences.

Mackenzie Ulam

NAMI has helped me get though a lot and has helped me become more patient with myself.

Jordan

I value the time that people are willing to invest in me.

The communities I'm most proud to be a part of are defined by trust, compassion and humility. Trusting in each other and showing each other allows us to build community, while humility allows us to grow as a group and individuals when we enact harm on each other.

I value our organic ways of creating and exchanging ideas, mutual respect for each other, and appreciation for the beautiful diversity in this community I'm a part of.

Lori

The amount of love and support that’s always willing to catch you when you start falling

Ruth Befekadu

I value the community I am within. We strengthen each other by accountability in virtual study groups, phone calls, but mostly by text!

Being able to share how difficult it is right now for us; sharing what we miss and how we wish things could be for us.

Zach Markizer

My sense of belonging

It is amazing to find a passion and to talk to others who share that passion. To learn, grow and explore new things related to something that matters to you can bring tremendous joy.

Greg Anderson

I really value being a part of the Mental Health Peer Educator community because I can be vulnerable about my mental health while working with my friends to support other students!

Jina Zhou

I am grateful for Michelle and the other Mental Health Peer Educators at CMHC for creating an environment where I feel accepted, appreciated, and heard.

Thank you to my support group for making me laugh when everything seems to be going wrong.

I am a part of the Mental Health Peer Educator program. I am honored to be a part of a community that values honesty when discussing mental health promotion, and unconditional support and love. What I value most, is the absolute acceptance my community offers. Whatever challenges the day has held, whatever burdens I am carrying suddenly vanish when I am amongst the company of my MHPE's and our advisor, Michelle. I cherish all 21 souls with all my whole heart and will be forever grateful of the opportunity to work alongside such dedicated student to create mental health promotion for everybody on Campus.

Sukaina

The people, the laughter, the tears, the joy, the sadness....the sharing of all of that and the support I receive is huge. Thank you for the love!

Eric Bowles

When I have an interaction with my community it makes me feel more integrated, more balanced, and it gives me a better perspective on life.

My community is just fully supportive of me and non-judgemental. They actively listen to my concerns and serve as such a great sounding board.

My communities of friends are what get me through the hard times, because I feel accepted and welcomed. On the good days, my community is there to celebrate with me, but on the bad days they are still there to listen, and offer support and advice. Knowing I have people to rely on for their genuine kindness and support is what I value.

I value the shared experiences I have with members of the community. It allows me to have peers that understand what I am dealing with on some level and we can commiserate with one another.

I love how my community respects hard work and people who are committed to growing.

Queers are so resiliant!

How caring and supportive they are. The unconditional love.

I value our times we can be in solidarity with each other and just valuable each and every one of us.

I love being part of my community because of the mutual understanding most of us have. We all want the best for each other and work in each other's best interests. Community means love and care, and we share that with each other every day.

Love comes in many different ways...

Quynh-Huong Nguyen

Let's dismantle the stigma of individual therapy and mental illness. I'll start, I have been seeing a therapist on and off since I was 13 and I am a psychologist now myself.

Ellie J

Empathy. Kindness. Compassion. Respect.

We need more empathy, compassion, and a willingness to listen to others to build a world that we believe is safe and whole.

Care beyond self for others, especially those who are different from us

We need more open minded individuals who encourage changes and growth. We need people to bind together in times of darkness and light. We need unity to fight the cruelties of this world together and stop living as if every one is to fend for themselves. We are all part of a community and it is our job to fight for those suffering in our community and beyond.

Vyshnavi Pottepalli

I think we need (and I'm beginning to see this!) an increased acceptance of taking time and space for yourself. Too often, self-care is taken at the cost of an academic, professional, or social obligation, which can lead to it being pushed to the bottom of the priority list. I hope one day we can be in a place culturally where self-care is seen as necessity, not a luxury.

It's incredibly difficult to connect with others, even more difficult to meet new people, at a time like this. Many people are struggling to find communities that would make them feel safe and comfortable in this new school year. It would help to have some kind of centralized list, other than Hornslink, that contains messages from members in organizations. They could share their experience and encourage newer members of our Austin community to find their new homes!

I think we need to be mindful about how we treat others, especially children. We must do so with compassion and understanding, so that they understand that it's okay to make mistakes--that is indeed how we learn most effectively. We need to give children enough space to grow, while also equipping them with the tools to understand their feelings and the difficult things that can happen in life. Being able to have open, nonjudgmental conversations at a young age sets the stage for a safer future.

We need to fight the stigma that asking for help makes you weak. When some of my friends needed therapy, they were judged by their families, and that was really disheartening to me. Therapy is wonderful for healing, but until being able to seek it becomes as normalized as going to the doctor for a physical illness, a lot of individuals who need therapy the most will be hindered from accessing it.

Be as present in the moment as you possibly can. Our world is changing and it needs new leaders to guide it in the right direction. Use this moment to learn, make connections and to dream of a better tomorrow. You're the leader you've been waiting for.

Vyshnavi Pottepalli

We need less focus on external achievement and competition and more celebration of vulnerability and rest. It begins with compassionate individuals creating this environment in their own corners of the world. We all have a role in advocating for a culture of kindness rather than a culture of efficiency.

We need less focus on external achievement and competition and more celebration of vulnerability and rest. It begins with compassionate individuals creating this environment in their own corners of the world. We all have a role in advocating for a culture of kindness rather than a culture of efficiency.

We need to reinvest into the community through initiatives in providing support for people to seek out support for meeting their needs! We need to break down our prejudices and biases, inviting everyone into the conversation! We need to appreciate others' opinions and stop spreading hate, but rather giving out love and kindness to others! The most importantly, we need to shift the thinking of "us vs. them" to empowering and uplifting each other!

Have civil and engaging conversations with people different from you!

Kevin

Increasing awareness about mental health issues and breaking down the surrounding stigma is a good first step to ensure a more supportive society. I think we're definitely headed in the right direction with education and outreach events but there's still a long way to go. It's important that we all do our part to recognize when we need support and be there for others if we are able.

Aleena Jamal (Healthyhorns Peer Educator)

A world built on compassion will make the world a better place. Practicing empathy towards every person enables a space to share knowledge, experiences, and growth.

Irena

We need accountability and more peer educators, social workers, and holistic attention for underserved communities.

We need to reimagine our institutions and how we care for each other. Leaning into mutual aid and finding ways we build community with each other are how we can build the world we live in . Understanding the systems that oppress us and what keeps them in place, and how we can replace those systems are ways we can improve mental health from the state we are in currently.

Nabeeha Engineer

Compassion. It's hard to maintain that sense of empathy for others when the world seems to lack it, but that's why expressing it makes it so much more powerful.

I believe we need to think more as a community rather than as an individual. Although we should take care of ourselves, we should think of the greater good and strive to reach happiness as a community as well. Remember to be kind and grateful for people and things that they do to keep the community thriving. When you feel like blaming others, try to find a way to solve problems rather than hating on them.

We need to practice openmindedness and acceptance of others who may not be like us.

Love and optimism cost nothing. There is no harm in loving a bit more than necessary or having a bit more hope than seems reasonable. Having a positive outlook on life will let us all go further in our own personal growth even when there are bumps along the way.

Daisy Kielty (Longhorn Wellness Peer Educator)

We need to change the culture in our society. There's so much emphasis on grind culture and it has become normalized to be stressed all the time, so much so that we no longer know what to do with ourselves when things are calm. It's time to realize that allowing yourself time to rest and heal is productive, too.

Mackenzie Ulam

We need to have more conversation about mental illness and normalize it, and normalize therapy as well. We need to teach people that time spent for yourself is not time wasted.

Jordan

We need much more empathy and less judgement.

To build a world where we feel safe, whole, and understand, we have to lead with compassion and open hearts instead of skepticism and judgment.

We need to create a world that has both abundant resources for those in need and also a means to go out and communicate them effectively so that everyone is aware that such resources exist.

Lori

Empathy. Maybe if we saw each other’s hell a little more, we wouldn’t stop until we’ve built heavens for each other

Ruth Befekadu

Empathy. Self-care and therapy are amazing but they focus on improving a single person in a world where we constantly interact with systems. Imagine a world where we not only focused on maintaining ourselves, but thought about what others might be experiencing and how we can help improve their lives, creating a system of care and compassion that allows us to feel whole and understood.

True friendship

Have more quality time again with close friends, frequently. People practicing honest and transparent, preventive communication about covid exposures and symptoms before practicing social distancing. Having more peers checking-in and initiating honest conversations about how things have been feeling recently.

Zach Markizer

We need to extend the same care we give ourselves to other people in our own communities and beyond

Jina Zhou

Mental health is not an individual experience but a shared one. By speaking with others in my support network about my mental health, I am also letting them know that I am there to listen. By connecting through our shared experiences, we elevate our mental well-being and also of those around us, bringing us closer to building a world where we may all feel whole, safe, and understood.

It can be easy to view ourselves and others in terms of labels - the mental health issues we may have, what color our skin is, or what church we go to, or our sexual orientation, or where we're from. We can help each other feel understood when we try to view ourselves and others as whole people, not as labels.

Schedule time for yourself. Get out of the house and exercise!

A world were everybody can experience the what it means to take care of themselves will need much much work. Self care is deemed a luxury - meant only for those who can afford it, or who can prove that they are on the brink of falling apart. But why must there be a need to go to such extremes, to battle our mental health when we have a simple solution of promoting a world where we teach love and acceptance instead of hate and injustice. A world where we fight for the rights of every single human being, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, of their legal status. However, none of this can happen, until we learn to adopt these changes ourself. We must love ourselves and one another. We must be kind to ourselves and one another. Then maybe we will realize how much we must cherish one another, and hopefully taking care of ourselves will become a natural part of life.

Sukaina

We need compassion for others and self-compassion. This way we care for others, but also know that it's ok to care and love ourselves in the exact same way. Be kind to others, but be kind to yourself too.

Eric Bowles

Reach out to someone and let them know that you see them, and that they matter.

Good music! Music can always change my mood, whether it's needing the energy to gear up to get things done or to wind down in the evening time.

Acceptance of all humans.

In order to build this world of all encompassing wellness, we need to end the stigma around prioritizing mental health. Acknowledging to ourselves that sometimes we cannot deal with all the stress, and demands of our everyday lives and we need some extra help getting through is the first step. Then, when we feel ready to share this with our friends/communities, for no one to judge or have a comment on our way of accepting and prioritizing wellness. Practicing more empathy for others in our everyday lives is a way to build this world.

We need patience and an open mind to really listen and hear one another.

Just be caring. Listen to people. Respect their experiences. Understand that everyone's pain is real. Do your best to support people when they need you. Ask for help when you need it.

Listen to each other and care about more than ourselves.

on campus/the classroom

To use all the time we need for healing.

I think we need to start caring for others more. For a lot of us, we already do care about others, but care doesn't just mean feeling empathy or guilt at being unable to help others in certain situations, it means doing anything within your reach to help, whether it means spreading awareness, love, or resources.

Solidarity and growth

Quynh-Huong Nguyen