Good Morning America’s chief meteorologist Ginger Zee marked Suicide Prevention Week by revealing her past mental health challenges.
On Friday, Zee, 38, shared an Instagram photo of herself as a young reporter in Flint, Michigan smiling brightly at the camera. “This photo always breaks my heart. This was during my first real job on tv at WEYI. This wide, forced smile was not long after my second suicide attempt,” she wrote. “Of course no one at work knew. I was a master at hiding my mental health issues. Especially from myself.
Nothing the timing of Suicide Prevention Week (between Sept. 6 and 12), which calls attention to the public health issue currently increasing among young Americans, Zee noted, “…I often wonder if there is anything I could go back and say to myself the morning I tried to take my own life. I don’t know if I would have been ready to hear it — I don’t know if this message will help — but I feel it is my duty to talk about it — because I was lucky.”
“Beyond the luck, I had the support and financial ability to get the help I needed to treat my mental health issues,” she added. “Not everyone has that.”
“If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, take it seriously,” she urged. “Act immediately. Don’t be afraid to go to the hospital to get urgent help and they can get you to the right type of therapy or medication you may need.” Zee tagged the Instagram handle of the mental health nonprofit Child Mind Institute as a resource.
Two years ago, the Dancing with the Stars alum wrote an essay for ABC News revealing that she struggled with anorexia as a young girl. Calling it a “horrendous spiral that could have taken my life,” Zee explained, “…The choice you do have is asking for help. With therapy and support, I was able to make a dent in the disease. It has been a 25-year process, but therapy, maturity, the support of my family and having my beautiful child has allowed me to get to this point where I am ready to talk about it.”
And this year during Eating Disorder Awareness Week (from Feb. 24 to March 1), Zee published an open letter to herself as a young girl. “You have no idea that this is a very dangerous disease with the highest death rate of any eating disorder…You’ll probably never be completely cured,” she wrote for Good Morning America. “Anorexia, for you, is something that can be managed but never fully repaired. But every day you have a choice to be honest about how you are feeling and to take care of yourself.”
Becoming a parent (Zee has two sons, ages 2 and 4, with husband Ben Aaron) helped her make peace with her body, but “whenever anxiety or fear bubble up,” she wrote, “you should head to therapy and focus on what in your life feels out of control.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
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