Jamaican actor Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis opened up about his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts for World Mental Health Day yesterday.
Ellis, regarded as one of the island’s best comedians, shared that he wanted to share his story “openly and honestly” in an attempt to have more people consider the question “How well are you?”.
“Mek mi say this up front, I am no mental health expert but I have been somebody who has struggled with mental health (issues). I have been diagnosed as clinically depressed, I have been prescribed antidepressants and I have actively considered and planned my own suicide,” Ellis said.
“I want to say this, as somebody who has considered, who has planned and who has thought a lot about my own suicide, I am here living because I am a coward.”– Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis
He added, “I am going to be sharing a number of ideas in some videos in the next few weeks dealing with the whole matter of mental health, and as it affect men particularly.”
The issue of his mental health was brought to the fore recently when he was invited by his brother and son to participate in a push-up challenge, which he said played on his emotional state as he was unable to do so.
“Men have to constantly measure up, men are being pushed to constantly ‘man up’, to compete, to prove and that sometimes put the real pressure on men. So men, chill, tek a deep breath, relax and be honest with yourself, and ask yourself ‘how well are you?”
Earlier in the video, he writer and performer addressed the issue of suicide, which is often looked at as cowardice. “People very often condemn people who commit suicide as cowards, as if it’s an act of cowardice.
“I want to say this, as somebody who has considered, who has planned and who has thought a lot about my own suicide, I am here living because I am a coward. I think that suicide is an act of courage and I have been saved from that demise because I was too afraid, too coward to do it; thank God for that cowardice,” he shared.
He asked, “How willing are you to embrace, to face and acknowledge your own ‘madness’?”, challenging people to consider their mental state and how they address tough situations. “How do you deal with hurt and annoyance? How prone are you to anger? How fixed are you to habits like drinking and smoking? How well are you?”
Ellis said he would share more on his well-being and mental illness in subsequent videos.