Black History Month Stories: A childhood tragedy fuels one woman’s drive to advocate for mental health awareness
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - One former WKU student is using a tragic moment in her childhood as fuel to advocate for mental health awareness in the African American community.
“My father passed away when I was in the fourth grade,” recalled Tracy Scott when asked about the moment that inspired her to become a voice for others advocating about mental health awareness.
“When my father committed suicide, at that age, a lot of kids didn’t understand, or they weren’t understanding of some of the things that I was experiencing in my everyday life,” added Scott.
Scott says since that day, she has been trying to help others understand that it’s ok to not be ok all the time.
“That’s something that I’ve been working with since I was a very young child, just educating people to be aware of how they feel on the inside of who they are. A lot of people look at the outside and they’re like, oh, I’m gonna look at myself and I’m gonna see, do I look, okay? Do I look okay? But it’s about, do you feel okay?” -- Tracy Scott
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, in 2019 suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans ages 15 to 24.
“As a young child, I had to take this as something, not as a downfall because I knew that I couldn’t stop going. I have a mom, I have a grandmother, and at times, where I wanted to completely give up, I couldn’t stop because I know that I have to continue for my dad,” says Scott.
She also says that the loss of her father has helped her build relationships and bonds and show people that it’s ok to lean on one another.
“In my community itself, you know, people see as you know, letting and confiding in someone about their mental health, as as you know, they’re weak. Because we went through a hard journey to get to where we are. But there are days where we’re at our high, we’re in our low, even though we’re still on this journey. It doesn’t make the journey less incredible,” adds Scott.
Tracy sends a message to those who may currently be going through tough times.
“It’s okay to not be strong, It is okay to not be strong and that’s a stereotype that we carry with us. We cannot be strong all the time. Lean on those individuals that, you know, understand you, that want to be there for you don’t push them away,” added Scott.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1(800) 273-8255, it is available 24 hours a day.
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