Know that you are not alone with your feelings; we are all in this together.
On Sept. 15, ETSU’s Mini Dome housed the third-annual Stigma Stops Now event. ETSU, in partner with The Frontier Health Foundation, brought the world famous gangster rapper/actor Ice-T as well as other guest speakers in to talk to students about the disconcerting stigma surrounding mental health.
Tracy Marrow, aka Ice-T, came on stage energetically and provided a touching, yet humorous discourse on the ins and outs of “the rough road” of his life.
“One of the reasons I can talk about adversity is…I was in 3rd grade when my mother died. For some reason, I didn’t cry,” said Ice.
He went on to tell the audience about losing his father in 7th grade and being shipped off to live with an aunt he had never met.
“Having your parents die at an early age puts you into a hole,” he said.
He talked about growing up and living in LA.
“I got involved with the gangs in LA…[it was the] first time I had family,” said Ice.
He explained the criminal behavior he was soon indoctrinated into — primarily the act of robbing banks.
He served four years in the military, and when he was out, he was at a loss.
Eventually, Ice-T began rapping.
“Music comes along … I tried to rap like the other rappers … not knowing I was going to invent something called gangster rap,” he said.
Soon, Ice began to change his way of living with music. He now had focus, and this would go on to land him in an acting career, working on the set of “Law and Order SVU” for 20 years.
“The life you want, you’re gonna have to really push for,” said Ice-T.
Aside from wanting to set an example of success for young adults and kids, Ice-T brought up the issues of hate and prejudice.
“Success and happiness comes from being a good person,” said Ice-T.
Cicely Alvis, who lost her stepbrother to suicide, spoke of the difficulty in delineating his cause of death to others, and also about the stigma of searching for help in the event that any person is considering suicide.
“Help-seeking isn’t something many of us are very good at…it took me a really long time to stop feeling guilty for not intervening,” Alvis said.
Kristy Tipton, who works as the Director of Crisis Services for Frontier Health, spoke of losing her husband to an accidental overdose.
“Oct. 4, 2014, at 9:20 a.m. was the moment my life changed,” Tipton said.
She found herself telling others that he’d had a heart attack rather than face the judgement of disclosing his actual cause of death.
If you need to talk to someone, don’t hesitate. The Crisis Response Hotline for the state of Tennessee is 877-928-9062.