DENVER — Colorado’s suicide rate is the 10th highest in the nation. One local teenager knows six people who took their own lives and is now sharing her story on multiple platforms.
The subject is hard to talk about, but Alex Bush says it’s time to bring it up.
“They don’t want to face it and I think it needs to be brought up,” Bush said. “Just bringing up suicide in general, it’s a topic that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. They don’t want to face it and I think it needs to be brought up.”
One of those close to Bush who took their own life was her father.
“I was always kind of a daddy’s girl,” Bush said. “He was like the biggest jokester ever.”
Bush said he was a real estate developer who starting heavily draining after his business was devastated by the recession.
“We got in an argument and I just snapped. I just said, ‘I really hate you and I don’t ever want to see you again.’ And then I left and I never talked to him again. That was the last time I talked to him.”
A week after their last conversation, he killed himself.
“I fell into a really deep depression,” Bush said. “I don’t even want to know my attendance from January.”
Her dad’s suicide is just the first of many Bush would have to deal with.
“In the past like year and a half, there were four more after my dad,” Bush said.
The deaths included a best friend’s father, two friends at Arapahoe High School and a classmate at St. Mary’s Academy in Cherry Hills Village.
“With all three of my friends, they were all outgoing, you know? Had tons of friends, seemed like life was good on the outside and no one knew how deeply rooted their issues were,” Bush said.
The CDC says 54 percent of people who commit suicide do not show signs of struggle. Nationwide, suicides are on the rise, up 34.1 percent since 1999.
“I was given a platform and I think when you’re put through a hard situation, you’re given a platform and you can either choose to use it or not,” Bush said.
All that grief and pain is now focused into a real passion for Bush.
Bush teamed up with Maria Bales, the mother of Nick Bales, one of the Arapahoe High School students who took his own life.
“She’s amazing, she’s amazing,” Maria Bales said of Bush.
Together, the two talk at schools and events to raise mental health awareness. They’ve even posted an in-depth account of their professional experiences.
Any way they can share their stories, they do.
“Mental illness is truly an emotional, physical pain,” Bales said. “Listen to our kids, they know and have the answers to a lot of this stuff.”
“You have no idea what people are going through,” Bush said. “As cheesy as it is, a small little act of kindness can go a long way.”
While Bush gears up to walk the road of life without certain loved ones beside her, the recent graduate is now committed to making mental health awareness a part of her forever purpose.
Bush also lost her maternal grandmother to suicide when she was in middle school, making it six people she knows who have taken their own lives.
Bush is all set to go to Ole Miss in the fall and plans to continue her mental health talks along the way.