Earlier this year, 48-year-old Brian Wilkie attempted suicide. He had battled depression for years, stemming from his own son’s suicide in 2014. Luckily, Brian’s attempt failed and he’s on the path to recovery. Last week, his teen daughter Ellie celebrated her dad in a now-viral tweet, commending his strength and how he fought for a better life for himself.
This year began with my dad mentally suffering depression and suicide attempt. Today he ends the year starting his new career in becoming a recovery support worker. Words can’t describe how proud we are #breakthestigma It’s okay not to be okay❤️ pic.twitter.com/HyUu3ZeO2S
— badiddy (@ellzthelephant) November 22, 2017
Ellie, a full-time student, told BuzzFeed News: “I shared the story of my dad because I couldn’t express how proud I was of him coming out the other side stronger than ever. I wanted to show everyone with support and love there is a light regardless how tough it may feel at the time.”
After the death of his son, Brian tried everything to numb the pain, including drinking, gambling, and medication. “I was feeling guilty,” he explained. “I didn’t realise depression was a mental illness. I didn’t speak about what I was going through… Depression robbed every emotion for me.”
By the start of 2017, he was deep into a years-long fight with his depression and, after attending a funeral in January, he tried taking his own life. After his attempt, Brian’s family assured him that they still loved him and wanted to help him get the help that he needed. Through his hard work and the support of his family, Brian is in a much healthier place mentally and he is even beginning a new job as a recovery support worker. When Ellie tweeted a photo with her dad to celebrate his journey and new job, it blew up and has been favorited 168,000 times in the last week.
Sadly, men committing suicide is all too common of a tale in modern society, as the overwhelming majority of suicide attempts in the U.S. are by white, middle-aged men. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of shame and stigma associated with mental health, especially for men, which makes it hard for them to speak out or be heard. Hopefully, stories like Brian’s encourage others to get the help they need.