For as fun and frolicky as LOGO’s show “Fire Island” has been so far, it is good to see that they are weighing out the lighthearted material with some serious issues in hopes that many others can relate to the cast members personal struggles. On last night’s new episode, one of its prime cast members Justin Russo opens up to his friend Khasan Brailsford about his own issues in his life which lead to an attempted suicide.
Admitting something like this, especially on national television, cannot be easy, and I wanted to chat with Justin immediately after the show aired to give his take on why he did it and why it’s so important to openly discuss issues like this so others don’t feel so alone. Here is what Mr. Justin Russo had to say about last night’s episode, where he is currently, how having a bevy of friends can help in a time like this, and what he hopes will be the impact for others who are having similar struggles.
Revealing that you attempted suicide on a huge television show is tough, let alone telling it to a confidant. Were you hesitant to talk about it at all?
I am of the mindset that being transparent about my personal struggles is tantamount for others to understand me fully. I was raised to be open and honest and it is something that comes naturally for me. I find it is the best way to connect with people. As for discussing the issue on TV, the moment came innately. It was not planned; Khasan joined me on the beach and I felt it was important for him to know where I was coming from as we became closer friends.
Suicide continues to be a very controversial topic in the world that we live in today as a lot of people still don’t understand how someone can get to that mindset. What would you say to those people who have a narrow POV on this?
As I’ve learned through therapy, any fear or confusion around mental health conditions is generally due to misunderstandings about these conditions. The best way to fix those misunderstandings is to be open about our struggles. Depression is an emotional health condition and should be looked at in the same way as other health issues. Though externally someone may seem to be “together,” an outsider can never know how said person is processing thoughts internally. Not everyone has control over their mind; getting to “that mindset” isn’t necessarily planned.
The episode was filmed nearly a year ago. Has much changed for the positive since then in your life?
Though the episode was filmed last summer, my attempt to take my life was late 2013. It took roughly two years to fully rebuild myself and my character. Since that time I have grown to embrace all my qualities (including my flaws) better, though growth is an ongoing process. I feel it was within these last few years that I have truly become myself and I have enjoyed life overall much more. There are still downward spirals; I suffer from anxiety as well, but I now have the tools to better process those moments.
Who has been there for you the most throughout this process?
I am fortunate to have a large network of TRUE friends. It is during the darkest moments that relationships are tested and I was comforted and blown away by the support my friends and family provided me and continue to do so.
Now that this has aired, what are you hopeful for in terms of impact it will have on not only yourself, but other people?
I am but one person who went through personal turmoil but I hope even discussing the issue will encourage others to come forward with their own stories and find the help that is needed.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
If you are in need, please do not be silent. Treatment works, and recovery is possible. Go to HalfofUs.com for resources.
And lastly, Tina Turner can save lives.