‘You are not alone’ | Suicide survivor holds mental health talk in Grand Rapids

Emma Benoit was only 16 years old when she survived a suicide attempt. Now she has made it her business to prevent suicides across the country.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Emma Benoit has packed her coat. She is prepared for the cold winter air. Winter in Michigan may not be a favorite thing to do in Louisiana, but Benoit is more than happy to come here. She has a strong message to share.

“If you’re in trouble right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. I was in the same place you were, “she said in an interview on Zoom before her trip.

Benoit describes herself as a perfectionist and philanthropist.

“I’ve always been the brave, fun-loving type of person,” she said.

Under that bubbly personality and infectious smile, Benoit hid a mental health battle that began when she was 12.

“I really bumped into a wall and really started fighting with a lot of uncertainty and fear,” she said.

“When I faced all of these challenges at the young age of 12, mental health was completely unknown throughout my childhood, it was a shock to me. I felt completely alone in the early stages of my mental health problems.”

Benoit said ages 12-16 were the toughest of their lives.

“I was really lost. I was a very lost child and then a lost teenager, and ultimately all of these factors led to my attempted suicide when I was 16.”

Benoit describes having overwhelmingly and immediate regrets after her attempt.

“All the things I wish I would have thought of earlier, you know, like my family, my loved ones, my life, my future, all the things I had planned, everything I wished for, would be mine Once it came to mind immediately after it happened when it was almost too late, “she said.

She woke up in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the injuries she sustained in the attempt. She had to learn to walk again. That wasn’t the only thing on her mind at the time.

“I knew I had to deal with it. I need to learn more about mental health. I have to understand my story. I also have to help others understand their story. So it’s been a pretty quick journey for me to realize that suicide is a mistake, “she said.

Benoit started a blog sharing her story. It was shared with the maker of a film called “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”. The film’s producer, Greg Dicharry, got in touch and asked Benoit to take part in a panel discussion. Soon they were making a documentary about Benoit called “My Ascension”. Testimonials call the film life changing.

“It’s the most incredible gift I have in my life is the ability to have a story that’s so strong that it really changes someone’s life,” she said.

The film will be screened on Thursday, December 9th at the Special Olympics Michigan Center for Inclusion at 160 68th Street SW in Grand Rapids. Admission is at 5.30 p.m.

In addition to the screening of the film, Benoit will take part in a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session. People will also be able to learn more about the mental health resources available to them in West Michigan. Attendance at the event is free, but you must register online.

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