Former NJ101.5 personality opens up about suicidal past
I've known Matt Ryan since he was a 16-year-old kid playing oldies radio out of a rat-infested trailer in Manahawkin. He's one of my best friends, like a little brother. There was many a night I spent driving home from comedy shows talking to him on the hotline while he was playing "Saturday Night 80's" on New Jersey 101.5. He is truly one of the good guys.
One of the things we talked about was how close he came to committing suicide when he was young. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Matt Ryan, who now does afternoons on our sister station 94.3 The Point, shared his story with listeners whom he considers "family." He also shared it with me on New Jersey 101.5. This is from his post:
"I was never an outgoing kid. I can remember worrying myself sick about everything. When I was a sophomore in high school I began feeling depressed and anxious all of the time. As the year went on, the depression got worse. I remember a particular day clearly. I was sitting in the cafeteria with a few friends and some others that barely knew me. One of the girls in that group found me extremely annoying. My depression had hit an all-time low and I planned to take my life that day. It wasn’t a passing thought, I was going to end my life when I got home from school. I had never said anything to anyone, but I spoke of my plans at the lunch table that day. I could have subconsciously been asking for help, but I was more or less telling them I wouldn’t be at lunch tomorrow. Lunch wrapped up as usual and the day continued.
When it became time for PE, I didn’t get dressed. I didn’t care. I sat in the bleachers as the rest of the class hit the track. I spent that time thinking and planning. Towards the middle of the period, I noticed a woman walk from the school and over to my PE teacher. The two began to walk over to me. I figured I was being written up for not participating. The teacher and this woman came over to me and asked me to walk back to the building with them. I was told we were going to the principal’s office. When the woman opened the door the principal was standing there, and so was my mother visibly upset.
Unknown to me, the woman who walked me to the office was the school’s therapist. Someone reported my threat of suicide to the teacher who ran a club I was a part of. Little did I know that the person who said something was not one of my friends, it was that girl that found me annoying and hardly knew me. It turns out, I hardly knew her. We were in the same club and I didn’t even realize it. The point is, she heard something, so she said something. If she hadn’t, I wouldn't be writing this now.
I immediately went to a doctor and was diagnosed and treated for massive depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. These are all things that I deal with every day. I like to think that I make personal progress a little at a time."
What advice would Ryan give to someone contemplating taking their own life?
Fortunately this past year, more people are calling for help and fewer are committing suicide.
On Sunday, November 1, you can join Team Matt Ryan for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Community Walk. This year it's virtual so you can walk wherever you are, even on a treadmill or around your block!
If you're having suicidal thoughts or need someone to talk to click here.
What I most get out of Matt's story is if you see or hear something, SAY SOMETHING! You never know when someone is crying for help. They may not know it either. I for one am grateful for that girl reached out for Matt because the world wouldn't be as great a place without him.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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