I'm ListeningI'm Listening

Talk Away The Dark: Being There For Your Community

View descriptionShare

The following article and accompanying audio include discussions of mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, call 988. 

In partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Audacy presents I'm Listening: Talk Away the Dark, a limited series with host David O'Leary featuring intimate conversations on grief, loss, and suicide. For the latest discussion in the series, David is joined by Victor Armstrong, AFSP Vice President of Health Equity and Engagement, and Michell Clark, father, husband, entrepreneur, writer and podcaster in the mental wellness space.

May is mental health awareness month, but really any month is a good month, and any time is a good time to be having an open and honest conversation about mental health and suicide. So that we can let those who may be struggling know that they are not alone, and that there is hope.

Working for the AFSP for many years, first as a volunteer and now on staff, Victor Armstrong aims to shut down the stigma that often accompanies conversations around mental health.

Passionate about helping those searching for peace and creating inspirational art, Michell Clark is the author of Eyes on the Road, a book designed to help you accept your past, embrace the present moment, and get excited about the future. Clark is also the host of the After You Fail podcast, where he has spoken powerfully about his struggles financially and career-wise, and reaching out at that time to others.

Noting how being so open about his struggles didn’t come easily, Michell said, “You know, being a man, being the quote unquote head of the household, being somebody who was raised to seek out and want to be independent and to feel powerful in certain ways, it’s tough when you don't feel like you have the independence and the power and the story that you want,” he shared. “And so, yeah, I've experienced a number of different seasons where I have felt, not like myself, I have felt not powerful. I have felt weak and inadequate and that has been very difficult for me to navigate.”

“I think my natural tendency is to keep that inside and to tell myself that I'll be able to figure it out, I'll be able to make a way and to make it make sense, myself, which is not always the best approach. It sounds great, but there are a lot of moments when I eventually humble myself and realize that it's actually better to let somebody in to talk about what I'm experiencing and to not try to tackle both the feelings and the actual problem by myself.”

Relating to Michell’s “natural tendency,” Vic added, “so much of what I think happens with us, especially as men… plays out different and even more so in different communities.”

“A lot of what we feel like is our natural instinct to want to do things, it's really where we've been socialized to believe that we're supposed to act. This whole notion that we're supposed to be strong and we're supposed to not show vulnerability. Those are things we've been socialized to believe and especially in black and brown communities.”

“I know growing up as a Black male in rural North Carolina and being the son of a preacher, there were some things that were instilled in me about — this is how you are supposed to navigate life,” Vic shared. “And when we don't do those things, when we can't navigate those things and show up the way that we've been socialized to believe we're supposed to, that becomes additional baggage that we carry because we feel like we're not measuring up.”

As David noted, “I think that the therapists and the psychologist, the clinicians call it core constructs.” Pointing out that “certainly as men, it's one of the populations, middle-aged men particularly, that show elevated risk for suicide. Because, well, for a variety of reasons, but certainly because it's difficult to talk about mental health and suicide. It’s getting better, we’ve made steps, but there's still a long way to a long way to go.”

Going on to discuss how having a conversation about suicide may happen in different communities, the common thread among all, was the importance that the conversation is had.

“That conversation can show up differently in different communities,” Victor noted. “But the overarching fact is that we first have to understand that suicide is preventable. It is a public health issue and we do believe that the way to combat suicide is by learning the risks and the warning signs.”

“If we can learn those risks and warning signs,” he added, “then if we can engage people in conversation, there's a way that this works in any community, we just have to get past the notion that we're somehow infringing on a person's privacy by asking them if they're thinking about suicide.”

“If you see someone that you think is struggling, we encourage you to ask them clearly concisely confidently, if they're thinking about suicide. We do encourage that if you're gonna do that, you know, try to try to talk to that person privately. Listen more so than you talk, but we do encourage it if you think someone is struggling have the conversation with them. And that holds true for any community.”

And if there’s a fear that you’re “gonna make someone suicidal by asking them if they're thinking about suicide,” David pointed out “research shows otherwise.”

“By asking them about it, you can give them the space to open up and talk about what they're going through.” Victor added. “So you may actually save a life by asking the question.”

AFSP and Audacy’s Talk Away the Dark series aims to give real-world insight into how having brave and caring conversations with loved ones about mental health and suicide prevention can help save lives. Through a series of open and honest discussions with influencers and mental health experts, we’ll demonstrate the importance of talking to people directly about suicide and show how those conversations help provide hope.

Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988. Find a full list of additional resources here.

 Words by Maia Kedem Interview by David O'Leary

  • Facebook
  • X (Twitter)
  • WhatsApp
  • Email
  • Download

In 1 playlist(s)

  1. I'm Listening

    183 clip(s)

I'm Listening

It’s okay to not be OK. We know the power of talk can save lives. Audacy's I’m Listening aims to sha 
Social links
Follow podcast
Recent clips
Browse 193 clip(s)