Jessica DiRocco

My brother, Anthony, was always impulsive. At 20, he sold his belongings and headed to California to skateboard. At 23, he moved to Chicago and started his own company. At 25, he took his own life.

Anthony’s suicide has me asking endless questions - questions I will never have the answers to. Why did he do this? Could I have done something differently? Could we, as a family, showed our love more? What if our dad hadn’t died when we were little? What if we knew he was battling some mental illness?

But, there is no “what if.” There is only “what is.”

And the “what is” of reality is that there are others who may be feeling the same way Anthony was feeling.

I hope it makes a shift in how we all talk about mental health and helps us answer the question “what if” we break the stigma.

So for the first time in my life, with Anthony’s strength embedded deeply within me, I’ve decided to do something impulsive. I’ve helped found The Makeshift Movement. Our mission is to create a safe space where communities can talk openly about mental health, suicide and substance abuse.

I can never know if talking about it would have helped Anthony, but I can hope it will help someone else. I hope it shows other people who may be silently struggling that we, as a community, are ready to listen. I hope it makes a shift in how we all talk about mental health and helps us answer the question “what if” we break the stigma.

by Jessica DiRocco

Anthony DiRocco

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