By Aaron Katz, Guest Columnist

I remember walking with him from 175 N. Harbor Dr., next to the lake, heading west across Randolph to the Prudential Plaza garage, and then driving up to his car in Evanston. This was six weeks ago.

I remember meeting at Daniel’s place on the Saturday of Lollapalooza weekend, getting ready to walk to Grant Park, and hearing about his amazing Friday night at Future and Major Lazer. All just five weeks ago.

And I remember August 19, three weeks ago, giving a goodbye hug, wishing a great vacation in Canada and voicing plans to hang out the week of Thanksgiving. Coming to terms with the fact that will never happen is devastating. Knowing August 19, 2016 was the last day I’ll ever see Scott Boorstein is heartbreaking.

Minutes after sitting down in class last Friday, I got a text from my mom: “Hi I need you to call me when you can”. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I would call her back in an hour when class ended.

Not long after, though, I got a message with an announcement of the news. Thoughts raced through my head about the various things that could have happened; my body started to shake, eyes began to water and felt as if a hole was punched in my chest. Those feelings, coupled with burying someone close to you at the young age of 21, can be wished on no one.

Scott was an incredibly special person. As one friend put it last weekend, “he was seriously the most amazing person I’ve ever met”.  He was the most intelligent, selfless and humble person around. He always made everyone’s day brighter.

I’m going to remember the great times staying up late to study in Jack’s basement, starting Octagon Club, and playing on the golf team for four years together; spring break in Mexico and the countless visits to Northwestern for Dillo Day and 2019 Ridge parties. I’m going to miss receiving his texts, “it was great chillin this weekend, can’t wait for the next”. It was a privilege knowing Scott through all this time and I can’t wait until we speak again.

It’s hard not to wonder if something could have changed what played out. I wonder what Scott would have thought if he had seen that September 5 was the start of National Suicide Prevention Week. I wonder how he might have felt waking up on September 10 to see it is World Suicide Prevention Day.  It might surprise you to hear that as of last summer, “suicide remains the second leading cause of death for college students, as it has been since the 1950s”.

Living does not have to feel like it will be more painful than dying. Ending your life is not the only solution.

I wonder if I had struck up a conversation about my own negative mental health if things had gone differently, because three, four and five years ago my life outlook was far different from now.

Reading and listening to the following are some of the things that have had the greatest impact on me in recent years:

Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture

Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech

Jonathon Youshaei’s Deerfield High School graduation speech

The Golfer’s Guide to the Meaning of Life by Gary Player

Jimmy V at the ESPYS and annual meeting of the Million Dollar Round Table

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

Steve Mazan: It’s Never too Late to Chase your Dreams

Principles, by Ray Dalio

Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Guy Winch: Why we all need to practice emotional first aid

Tim Ferriss: Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

I do believe if there is one thing to take away from this, it is that one cannot hold back from speaking what is on their mind. It’s why I am writing this, with hope that people feel more empowered to take their mental health seriously.

Steve Jobs once said “Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask”. That idea of taking action for help is applicable in everything from your academic, to personal as well as professional life.

The future can be better than the present and you have the power to make it so.

katza@miamioh.edu

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