Youth Voices: Desmond

Asking for help is brave

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24, and many young people struggle to ask for help. While mental health is complicated and youth face additional struggles like processing their identity, unhealthy relationships, bullying, and harassment, sometimes the simple act of asking for help can be enough to set a person on a better path.

Desmond Herzfelder, a junior at Noble and Greenough School, struggled with his mental health in middle school, describing it as “an inability to experience happiness.” Without the ability to enjoy and interact with the world around him, he felt trapped in his own dimension, “separated by that distance from everything and everyone.” All the while, he was exhausted from living in a never-ending bad day.

Desmond’s single greatest regret was not reaching out to someone sooner. While reaching out was hard for him, as Desmond so aptly put it, “not talking about [depression] didn’t and doesn’t change the fact that I was depressed. I have struggled with depression and talking about it actually helps.” Desmond discovered that asking for help isn’t a failure, but an effective strategy to work through difficult issues.

Asking for help and having a compassionate listener are powerful. Samaritans is familiar with the power that stems from a person deciding to reach out. Our confidential Helpline receives more than 80,000 texts and calls each year from youth and others of all ages who are in need of a listening ear as they work though their struggles. Learning and growing from his own personal experience, Desmond decided to become a Samaritans Crisis Center volunteer, answering calls for help from those who feel isolated, anxious, or depressed.

Desmond confidently tells his peers years later, “You need to know that your brain can change and that you can feel happy again.” That is the very essence of hope, which begins with asking for help. Watch Desmond tell his own story here, as he speaks to the student body of his school about his experience.

Need help? Call or text Samaritans Helpline at (877) 870-4673.