Sebastian Klein, founder of the Angel Forever Foundation, presented a suicide talk Thursday night at Doudna Fine Arts Center’s Black Box. Klein spoke of struggles of suicide and drug abuse, and offered advice to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors. When talking about the stigma around suicide and mental health Klein said, “Hope is always available, we just have to stop letting the veil, the shroud, cover everything that we are feeling.”
Klein shared his own experiences dealing with suicide and addiction, saying he was diagnosed with severe depression at the age of 10.
As years went on and after seeing multiple psychiatrists and the endless number of medications, Klein developed anxiety disorders, and his depression got worse. He revealed that he is a three-time suicide attempt survivor.
His first attempt was at 12 years old, his second attempt was at 27 years old, and his third attempt was around 33 years old.
Klein also share his experiences overcoming being an addict and his recovery that has led to him being 12 years clean.
After countless attempts and depressive episodes, he decided enough was enough and tried to find help from psychiatrists. He said following many setbacks, he realized that he wanted to go back to school and learn about psychology and sociology to figure out how to help himself.
“If you can just hang on, it gets better. Regardless of what you are going through; regardless of what you are dealing with in the outside world. It gets better,” Klein said.
At 51 years old, having gone through what he has gone through, he said, “It does not necessarily go away, but it gets better. And it gets better by taking certain steps.”
Klein said many people, as well as him, do not want to get better because their pain feels like a comfort zone.
“No matter how many times I do it, it still feels like a routine but eventually I take (more pills and) it starts to take effect than what happens is I get pissed off because it is working,” Klein said.
As a former addict, Klein shared insights on reservations, explaining reservations to addicts or former addicts are deal-breakers to stay clean. If something happens, then they will go back to drugs.
He said the only thing that would get him to resort back to drugs would be the death of his children.
Klein’s said his son is currently a drug addict, and on June 4, 2017, Klein lost his daughter, Angel Klein, to suicide at the age of 13 years old. He described his daughter as straight-A student, a writer, beautiful, had an amazing personality, but she was bullied in-person and online. He said, in an attempt to help her deal with the constant bullying he took her to see a psychiatrist, but bullying and self-harm took over.
Klein took it upon himself to research more about suicide by joining clubs, reading books, and getting suicide training. He started a foundation for those who are thinking about suicide in honor of his late daughter called the Angel Forever Foundation.
His mission statement is, “Filling the void of silence because pain isn’t always oblivious, suicide prevention starts with a conversation.”