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Have the ‘uncomfortable conversation’ about depression, speaker tells health conference

From My Edmonds News. View the complete article at Story by Teresa Wippel.


Six years ago, Kevin Breel almost committed suicide.

“I was just a 17-year-old kid sitting in my room scared and alone on my bed with a bottle of pills,” the public speaker, stand-up comedian, author and mental health activist told those gathered to hear him speak Monday at the Lynnwood Convention Center.

After years of battling depression following the death of his 13-year-old best friend, Breel believed he had nowhere to turn. “I just had this sense of hopelessness, feeling alone and scared, overwhelmed, and couldn’t see through the rest of the day,” said the Victoria, B.C. native known for his TedX talk “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” and his Random House-published book “Boy Meets Depression.”

Now 23 and living in Toronto, Breel was in Lynnwood to speak during the Healthier Community conference, sponsored by the Verdant Health Commission. The second annual conference was aimed at anyone interested in living a healthier life, and drew a range of attendees — from individual citizens to government officials to health care professionals. One of the three session tracks, titled “Healthier Mind,” focused on topics ranging from anxiety and depression to substance abuse to race and ethnicity mental health issues.

Attendees listened intently as Breel described that night in 2011 when he took out a piece of paper and wrote his suicide note. After rereading the note “at least 100 times,” Breel realized that he had kept everything written on that paper a secret. He had a heart-to-heart conversation with his mother, who was encouraging and supportive and insisted that he see a counselor, whom he still visits regularly.

Pointing to the audience gathered in the banquet room during his lunch-time address, Breel praised those who work on community mental health issues. “I’m still alive because of people like you,” he said, “because of people who actually care.”


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