SUICIDE: THE FACTS AT A GLANCE

Today’s artists and entertainers all face an overwhelming amount of pressure while in the spotlight. With social media, the Internet, and television, there is an insurmountable appetite for perfection.  They are faced with the strains to be ‘beautiful’, ‘physically fit’, multi-­talented, marketable, ‘youthful’, and to compete with others as equally remarkable.  As common as it is to be viewed as glamorous and ‘perfect’ in the entertainment industry, some artists ensue a hard time trying to maintain their self ­love and self ­esteem.

Most people can say they have experiences a form of depression at some point in their lives. There may have been a time where they felt their lowest of lows, viewed themselves negatively, or perhaps felt trapped in a daunting space of no escape. As common as feelings of depression are, our society tends to overlook and dismiss mental health issues. In doing so and by letting depression go unaddressed, struggles with drugs and alcohol addiction may develop as well erratic behavior, or even worse, may ultimately result in suicide. Sadly, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages, and the 4th leading cause of death for adults ages 18-­65. There is approximately one death by suicide every 12­-13 minutes, taking over 38,000 American lives each year. Thankfully, there is one organization that is aware of the severity of depression and identifies closely with these challenges.

The Simone Battle Foundation is a SUICIDE INTERVENTION and MENTAL WELLNESS program development project for young women in entertainment careers.  They are built on the platform of protecting and exercising wellness.  The Simone Battle Foundation aims to guide young people to practice healthy lifestyles that maintain suicide free existences and mental wellness. The Simone Battle Foundation is committed to research that reveals preventative strategies against mental depression and suicidal behaviors for young women in entertainment careers. Personal focus to maintain self­-identity, values, and authentic artistic expression while coping with life situations is emphasized. They aim to poster positive self-­images and relationships that sustain respect, dignity and appreciation for ones impact on the world.

At the foundation's most recent event which took place on December 12th, 2015 at the West Angeles Church Youth Center, Carla Cavalier, LCSW, discussed the importance of seeking professional help and remaining close to your village. Carla says, “if you are a young rising star with feelings of suppression and depression as a result of chasing your dreams, then reach out and talk to somebody, seek help, go to your roots; your family and friends. If you feel you cannot talk to anyone personally, then see professional help.” It is important for us all to understand that a depressive disorder is not the same as passing negative mood. It is also not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be easily wished away. It can require professional help and special attention to treatment. People with a depressive illness cannot merely pull themselves together and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years.

Fellow guest speakers like Nicole Connor’s of the Central Artists Agency discussed the importance of remaining positive in auditions and dealing with rejection. “Do not let naysayers stop you, stick with your passion and you will make it through with faith, family, and work ethic”, Connor’s encouraged listeners. Actor Roshon Fegan, from the Disney Channel’s hit show ‘Shake It Up’, also gave his personal intake on how to bounce back in the industry. “Retreat, Regroup, Reinvent” was his motto, ensuring fellow artists that “someone is always willing to take a chance on you, so if you’ve made it this far, keep going, and never give up”.

There are several important questions to ask ourselves regarding depression; like how do we spot the signs of a depressive disorder? How do we combat this illness? What are ways to fuel self­love? Carla Cavalier educated the crowd on various signs to identify in someone experiencing depressive disorder. She explained that withdrawal/isolation is a major indicator someone may be experiencing feelings of depression. Other indicators included uncleanliness and disorder, hopelessness, a negative outlook on life, as well as, over­eating or under­eating. Of course, there are many other signs people experiencing depression may exhibit, but the preceding cues were just a few Cavalier discussed. She emphasized that finding what makes you happy are ways to counter this serious issue. Whether your passion is sports, cooking, blogging, walking dogs or something else, do whatever makes you feel good. “Also, reflect on the individuals who care about you, listen to you, talk to you, support you, and gravitate towards them. They will be there to pick you up and show you the positives when you feel you cannot do so for yourself”, Cavalier spoke. Writing positive and uplifting messages to your­self, giving positive affirmations to yourself, dressing up, and treating your­self with kindness are also ways to fuel selflove.

The Simone Battle Foundation movement has begun and is moving full speed ahead. With support from sponsors such as Core Water, Central Artists Agency, The Law Offices of Robin Chow, 721 Accounting Services, and individuals like Dr. Luke and Max Martin, they will continue inspiring young persons to take hope and to see a bright future. You can join the movement by visiting the foundation’s website and donating to TheSimoneBattleFoundation.org, as well as, attending their next event in the spring of 2016 which will focus on empowering women to achieve higher education. With your help, The Simone Battle Foundation can further its mission to ensure that young women who are pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, that are suffering from mental depression have the opportunity to get counseling and education before they are at their breaking point and commit suicide.  In the words of Donna Morgan, mother of Simone Battle, and founder of the organization, “Always remember you are not alone and there is a light at the end of every tunnel. We are all in this together.”