TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - For some, life might always be a sunny day, but for others like Marleyna Illig, clouds can cover even the brightest day. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, suicide rates are on the rise in the state. In 2017, nearly four Arizonans died by suicide a day.
“It started at a very young age, age four, and I’ve been seeing a therapist ever since,” said Illig.
She shares her story with middle school and high school students through NAMI—the Nation Alliance on Mental Illness.
“My first suicidal ideation was in fourth grade. I was teased so badly for my weight that I had to switch schools,” said Illig.
At a young age, her bi-polar and depression started showing its power and then her brother died by suicide.
“Between the ages of 10 and 15, I had 5 people close to me take their own lives,” said Illig.
As she got older, she turned to drugs to cope with her mental illness and thoughts.
“I’ve had two major suicide attempts. One at the age of 15 that left me with a 70 percent chance of dying and one the last one was November 30th 9 years ago at the age of 21,” said Illig.
She was left in a coma for days after the last attempt. In March 2019, she could feel those same thoughts creeping up in her mind. This time, she wanted to do things differently.
“I really reached out for support, including calling a suicide prevention hot line,” said Illig. “What I tried to do was control my impulses.”
Now, she’s been self-harm and attempt free for nine years—clean and sober for six.
“I’m celebrating the fact that I’m still alive…I’m not comparing myself to what I used to be, I’m comparing myself to how far I’ve come,” said Illig.
Her story in ink on her body—but her inspiration as well, a quote tells the reason she shares her story to youth: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire,” tattooed on her wrist.
By sharing her story, she hopes others will seek the resources they need, and know they are not alone.
“If I’d gotten the help I really needed at a young age, things may have turned out differently for me,” said Illig. “You’re here for a reason, whatever the reason is.”
NAMI has a program called “Ending the Silence,” where people, including Illig, share their stories and talk about mental health resources. NAMI also partners with the Text Talk Act, that allows youth to text with a group about mental health. ADHS reports suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for men and 11th leading cause of death for women in the state.
If you or a loved one are in crisis please call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). NAMI has a crisis line at 520-622-6000 or 1-866-495-6735.