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Alex San Diego
Alex San Diego

Alex San Diego

She's creating platforms to get loud.
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Alex San Diego is reaching thousands of young people through Jack Talks and social media.

On December 18, 2017 at around 5 a.m. I woke up to my phone buzzing. As I scrolled through the notifications, I felt myself go numb. K-pop singer, artist and someone I have loved and look up to since I was 13 years old, Kim Jonghyun, had died by suicide. My life changed instantly in that moment, and as I processed the loss over the next few months, I knew that my advocacy had to change too… but how? 

Even after being a mental health advocate for five years, this was my first time being personally touched by suicide. When I read Jonghyun’s letter I realized that he tried to reach out for help but was stigmatized by his own doctor. I was furious. I was angry. I missed him more than ever. 

And I let my pain, my anger and more importantly, my love and respect for Jonghyun’s life fuel me to evolve.

I got louder. In 2018, I spoke with thousands of young people through fifteen Jack Talks, shared my story, and equipped them with the tools they need to recognize stress and struggles and the language needed to talk about it. In turn, they shared their stories with me and became inspired to join Jack.Org’s movement. 

I opened up on social media even more about what Jonghyun’s life and death meant to me and my experiences as a mental health advocate who struggles with mental illness. I opened up and became more vulnerable to my friends and family and supported my loved ones through their struggles. I took on as many media interviews as possible so that I could get in front of more faces and implore them to look out for each other. I wanted them to know that if they don’t know how to talk about it, we can teach them how to.

I wrote in my blog after the 2018 Jack Summit that “we have to take the power of that grief, get up, and keep talking so that no one has to go through that kind of sorrow again.” That is what I have done, and will continue to do. Everyday I will miss and love Jonghyun, and everyday I will be loud about the imperative need to end mental health stigma.