GUEST POST: ABBIE'S STORY
Trigger Warning: Suicide and Depression
My name is Abigail Davis, and I am the reigning Miss Teen Ohio International. Now, I know it might be odd to have a pageant queen writing a post about mental illness, believe me, I never thought I would be here either. But God had other plans for me. I am writing you today as an avid lover of musical theater; theater has been a huge part of my life since a very young age, and always gives me some peace of mind. Whenever I am performing on stage, regardless of what has been happening in my life, I knew that I was going to be transported to a different place, to communicate a story to an audience. Today, I want to communicate my story to all of you. A story that I am just realizing is much larger then I could have ever imagined, and it all starts with the theater.
My freshman year of high school, my schools musical was Seussical. For those who don’t know the story, it is a musical portraying various Dr. Seuss stories. I went to an all girls school, and the show was lacking guy dancers. A few weeks into the rehearsal process, in walks a new face. He would quickly become a featured dancer for his amazing talent and abilities. I was in awe of his natural ability to find rhythm in any of the songs, and his ease to learn dances in a short amount of time. He also gave the best advice, and could always lighten up a stressful practice, just by smiling.
Sophomore year was the musical of Shrek, and it also happened to be the year where I received my first larger role. I looked everywhere for the brilliant dancer during the first day of rehearsal, and couldn’t spot him right away. I was quite nervous he hadn’t auditioned this year, but then i heard his laugh which was so distinctive. Anytime that I could spend with him I would. Running to grab milkshakes before rehearsals was one of our favorite things to do. He knew exactly what to say to me whenever I would get nervous before going on stage, and he was the first one to hug me when I came off. Sadly, our time in theater with each other came to a close, because he was a senior while i was still a sophomore. But, he was still one of my dearest friends.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school, and of course I am doing yet another musical. This one happened to be in March, so our practices started in January. I was getting home quite late from one of our rehearsals, and I remember that it was so cold out, and there was a high chance for snow overnight. I was hoping for a snow day the following day, because we had not had one all school year. I walked in my house, set my bag down from rehearsal and started walking up the stairs to my room when my phone started vibrating. I looked down and read a text that said the following,”Chase died.” I had to pause on my way to my room to make sure I was reading the text right. Chase, the guy who light up any room he walked into, the one who, no matter what could make me smile, died. I don’t think I even started crying right away, because I was in such denial. I just sat there, looking at my phone, hoping it was a mistake.
A half an hour later, my phone vibrated again, and this time, with the cause of his death. Chase had committed suicide. A wave of shock came over me. The vibrant young man who was so full of life was no longer with us. It took me months to wrap my head around the fact that I would no longer get snapchats, texts, or see his posts on other social media sights.
March came around, and I was presented with the opportunity to compete in the Miss Teen Ohio International Pageant, which is a platform based pageant. In this moment, I knew that I wanted to seize an opportunity to keep Chases memory alive, and to bring awareness to a much needed topic. I stood on a stage in front of hundreds of people, expressing my want to be a voice for the voiceless. In the end, I was crowned Miss Teen Ohio International 2016, and I have been using every moment of my reign to bring awareness to suicide and prevention. In April, I attended the Out of the Darkness Campus walk at the Bowling Green State University campus, which was put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). In just two weeks, I raised over $1,200 for this organization. Shortly following my first experience with AFSP, I went to New York City to visit their national office, where I met with their CEO, as well as other members of their staff, and was named a national advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I was also given the opportunity to write for their blog, once again getting the word out about suicide awareness and prevention.
I just returned home from my travels to Jacksonville, Florida, where I competed for the title of Miss Teen International, and though I did not capture the crown, I did place in the top 11, and once again talked in front of hundreds of people, both who were sitting in the audience and those watching at home, the importance of erasing the stigma that comes along with suicide. I am a firm believer that suicide should no longer be a ‘hush hush’ conversation, but conversations that are communicated loudly about prevention.
As a college freshman at Wright State University, I think it is quite important to bring talks of suicide prevention into everyday life. Mostly because we don’t know peoples stories, we don’t know the battles that they are facing, and the people who are smiling the most, may also be the ones suffering silently. So it is time that we shed a light on suicide, and what others can do to bring awareness to this topic. There should be no more quiet conversations about suicide, instead there should be loud conversations about prevention.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Abigail Davis. I am and eighteen year old college freshman, who is attending Wright State University where I am pursuing a degree in Mass Communications. I am from the city of Perrysburg which is a small town in Ohio. I have two loving parents, Kylee and Alex Davis, as well as two younger siblings, Katie and Jacob. But of course the love of my family doesn't end there, with my Nana, Papa, Uncle Todd, Aunt Bridget, and three younger cousins, Avery, Sage and Nicholas all living in the same area as well. Music has been a huge part of my life, and music also brought a dear friend named Chase into my life.
Connect with me on Facebook and say hi!