This story deals with the subjects of depression and suicide. If you, or anyone you know, experience suicidal thoughts, you can contact the National Suicide Hotline by phone (1-800-273-8255) or text (send HOME to 741741).

Today the THG team discusses a difficult subject for many people to talk about. Mental health is an issue that needs to be brought out of the shadows. Depression and suicide are serious issues and one of the best ways to work through our demons is to talk about them. For one day every January, Bell Canada organizes a day to remove the stigma from mental health over multiple social media platforms with “Bell Let’s Talk Day.” While this is an initiative by a Canadian company focused on Canada, because we’re hockey fans, inevitably our twitter feed gets bombarded by tweets with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and its hard not to notice the outpouring of comments by people sharing their own experiences with mental health with many surprising stories. Much like the #YouKnowMe hashtag, it brings attention to the fact that people are not alone, and all of us have our own demons. You definitely know someone that has thought about suicide.

You might be surprised to know that I vividly remember walking from my college home near the corner Houghton and Franklin to Bridgeview Park in the wee hours of the morning. I took a seat on one of the park benches and while sobbing I thought about how much of a failure I was and contemplated whether or not anyone cared about me or if I deserved to live anymore. That’s not the only point in my life that I have struggled with depression, but it certainly was the worst. I’ve been seeing a therapist at least monthly for four years now. He’s helped me deal with my weight/body image issues, the loss of my father after a year long battle with cancer, my recent divorce, and single fatherhood. No matter what you see from people on Twitter, Facebook, Instragram or other social media, they all have their own demons.

This brings us to the recent loss of a huge member of the Michigan Tech Hockey community. We will refrain from using his name out of respect for his family and norms of his cultural background. I’m sure all of you can connect the dots on who we are talking about. We took our time writing this piece because we didn’t want it to be solely a reaction in the moment. Some time to reflect on this moment and take family, cultural issues into account was important in this situation. Please respect these decisions in not using his name in comments or discussion of this topic.

This very important voice of Mitch’s Misfits took his own life in June. He was an amazing person. He found a love for hockey through Michigan Tech after coming to school here from far away. He latched on to Mitch’s Misfits back in 2016 and never let go. I met him for the first time during the improbable playoff run by the Huskies back in 2018 in Bemidji. I could feel his energy and I know I am not alone that anyone who interacted with him could feel his love for the team. He stuck out among the Misfits but he was far more than someone that might have looked different. His heart was gigantic. Nobody who ever met him was a stranger, just a friend that he had not yet met. The news of his death sent shockwaves through not only the Michigan Tech community, but the entire college hockey community. We’d truly lost one of the best fans ever to put on the black and gold.

Over the weekend, many people from the MTU community and the greater UP participated in the U.P. Wide Suicide Prevention walk as part of September’s recognition as Suicide Prevention Month. Today is the last day of September but it’s never too late to donate to the UP Coalition Network. Their three main goals are:

  • Increased awareness of suicide risk factors and resources for help
  • Raising funds for future prevention initiatives
  • More people joining their local coalition to continue the work of prevention

Please join Tech Hockey Guide in making a donation at www.UPCNetwork.org/spw to support this organization and hopefully help prevent more people from getting to the point of deciding that taking their own lives is the answer. Every little bit helps and we’ve all had personal experience with this issue thanks to our former Misfit. The world would be a better place if he was still around. We can all do more to help ourselves, our friends and our family from getting to that point.

The first Huskies game back at the Mac promises to be an exciting tilt between our Huskies and the Nanooks of Alaska Fairbanks. It also promises to be a bittersweet weekend as there will be one empty seat in section L that the entire college hockey community will mourn alongside with us. As the season approaches, let’s promise listen to each other, especially when we’re struggling.

The next time someone asks you how your day is, don’t be afraid to tell the truth about how you feel, even if the answer isn’t “great.” No matter how bad things might be, there are people in this world that care about you Don’t be afraid to lean on those people when you need them and make sure you’re there actually listening to your friends and family when they are talking. Be good to each other. We cannot afford to see another seat in the Mac become empty.