It's Okay to Not Be Okay

UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?

If I had the opportunity to paint whatever I wanted on the Beta Bridge, I would paint eleven numbers in navy blue contrasted by an orange background. I would paint the suicide hotline, 1-800-273-8255.

I didn’t realize to what extent conversation about mental health and suicide was denounced until my friend, Rudrakshi, died by suicide.

The first day of school without Rudrakshi can be described as a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I walked into class with a sliver of hope that this was all a cruel joke and that I would see Rudrakshi laughing with her two best friends. The second day without Rudrakshi, people made false promises about helping the students and making excuses for Rudrakshi’s passing. The next few weeks, the word suicide was weighed down by an aura of fear. The next few months were characterized by more people willing to disregard suicidal signs than express empathy and love towards those that were struggling.

Painting the suicide hotline on the Beta Bridge wouldn’t solely be a way to inform people of the number but would also act as a reminder to anyone on the bridge that they’re not alone, it’s okay to seek help, and that the stigma around mental health shouldn’t prove an obstacle on their path to...

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