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FEATURE: Spectrum 1 (09/05/2021)

'Not everyone lives to tell their story': Wisconsin man shares journey after suicide attempt

BY GRISELDA PEREZ


In 2020, 861 people died by suicide in Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services considers it a public health issue. Last September, Steven Binko was close to being added to that number after being rushed to the hospital in a suicide attempt. A faint voice on body camera footage from a paramedic who responded to the 9-1-1 call said: “120,000 milligrams of Tylenol in total.” Binko had taken several pills of pain medication and it wasn’t his first attempt. The struggles of mental health are a journey he works through daily. “The truth is that when you’re in that space, mind you, everyone is different but for me, I don’t know that anything that somebody says can really change it,” said Binko, recalling that night. “(It’s important) just to let someone know that what they feel is valid, just to feel seen, to know that your experience matters.” National Suicide Prevention Week runs from Sept. 5 - Sept. 11. But the whole month is used to focus on resources and advocacy for preventing suicide. Suicide is the 10th overall leading cause of death in the nation. There’s been a 35% increase since 1999, affecting men at a higher rate, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Now, Binko’s goal is to make conversations about mental health more common and accessible. “I don’t have any formal education in mental health but I do have my experience,” he said. “I feel like the more that we listen to each other and share these experiences, the more it kind of normalizes things like mental health and understanding that mental health is a very normal thing. It affects everybody.” In the last year, Binko has directed a lot of work towards his mental health. Binko has committed to therapy and has opened up to new forms of help like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, where the development of personal coping strategies is the target of problem-solving. As a former music and theatre entertainer, he now shares his personal journey in public presentations. It helps him process and he hopes to be a small light to anyone battling in darkness. “Their pain does not need to fit the narrative of what suffering looks like for you,” explains Binko. “If you do say something (to someone who is suicidal), come from a place of empathy, not judgment because there’s no cost for kindness, but there are consequences to judgment.” Binko said he’s in a better place right now, but it's taken all his 33 years of life to get to this point. “There’s a lot of vulnerability putting (this) out there,” he said. “I just feel a responsibility to share it because not everyone lives to tell their story.” Original Source HERE

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