Nobody ever wants to talk about suicide. It is, point blank, an incredibly difficult topic to discuss, and unless you’ve been directly impacted by it, it can sometimes feel like something that happens elsewhere, to other people, certainly not anyone you know.
But with a federal data analysis released last year showing an unprecedented surge in suicide rates among almost every age group, it’s clear that the key to prevention isn’t staying silent and hoping it goes away. In fact, it’s the opposite: It’s turning to the people closest to you and asking them how they’re feeling, and extending that compassion to friends and strangers alike. The most useful weapon in the fight against the darkness and the loneliness and the bottled-up feelings of hopelessness and despair that lead people to end their own lives is love. (And the care of a licensed medical professional who can recommend the best course of treatment for someone struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. But also love.)
After renowned celebrity dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt died by suicide in 2015, his friends and colleagues (given that he was known for being unfailingly warm and outgoing, the two often overlapped) started the Dr. Brandt Foundation in his honor to raise awareness by encouraging meaningful, empathetic conversations around mental illness and provide a support system for those whose lives have been affected by its devastating effects.
This Sunday, to coincide with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the Foundation is set to launch a new social media campaign to help raise money, promote understanding, and encourage fans and followers to join the fight against suicide and depression. Getting involved is easy: For every image of a heart posted to Instagram with the hashtag #sayiloveyou, the Foundation will donate $1 to its suicide prevention project up to $100,000.
Dr. Brandt Skincare will also offer a $38 limited-edition #sayiloveyou skin-care kit, available September 10, that includes a collection of the brand’s best-selling products, a signature tote bag, and a temporary heart tattoo (yes, for the ‘gram), with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Dr. Brandt Foundation. (Of course, you can always donate directly to the cause, too.)
“It was a very difficult thing, losing my best friend and mentor,” says Stephane Colleu, CEO and President of Dr. Brandt Skincare. “He was so well-loved, and he had this unique open charm that made people feel they had a personal relationship with him.” That’s why Colleu has made it his mission to, as he says, “spread the love and bring awareness to suicide as we honor the memory of our beloved Dr. Brandt.”