This Two-Time Suicide Survivor Started The ‘Fireflies Unite’ Podcast To Raise Awareness About Mental Health In The Black Community (MADAMENOIRE)

“Imagine having cancer [since childhood] and not treating it,” T-Kea Blackman told me as she compared her battle with depression and anxiety to the fatal disease.

The New Jersey native quietly battled with her own mental illness during her childhood, which caused two failed suicide attempts. Children committing suicide is getting more attention since the sudden suicides of 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis and 8-year-old Imani McCray. Blackman feels it’s important for adults to encourage children to express their feelings and not dismiss them when they feel something is wrong.

“There are so many instances where adults ignore children,” she told me over the phone. “They’ll say things like ‘ain’t nothing wrong with you’  without truly understanding a child’s mental state. That’s why it is necessary to have conversations about suicide and mental health just like we talk about sex, drugs and gangs.

Blackman’s own battle with depression and post traumatic stress disorder has inspired her to jumpstart a podcast, “Fireflies Unite” to help normalize discussing mental health in the black community and tear down the stigmas of what mental illness looks like.

“I want to show people that mental illness is not just that homeless person talking to themselves while walking down the street,” the 27-year-old said. “It’s also the person who is an attorney who may have bipolar disorder . It’s also that overworked mother who is feeling depressed and feeling like she can’t hold it together.”

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