Not Just Another Statistic

Hey everyone,

My name was Derek Lowell Hopkins, I was a 24-year-old male from Pukwana, South Dakota. I loved racing, riding horse and hunting, and I was damn good at all of those things. I lived by the mottos “I wanna go fast” and “If you’re not first, you’re last.”

I was so caring, I would have done anything for anyone. I was funny and could make anyone laugh with my sarcastic remarks. I loved kids, I loved racing and I loved those who loved me. I was a good soul and a truly great man.

but… I won’t be remembered by those qualities…as they no longer matter….. because I will now be known as just another statistic. . .

I was a male which means I was 4 times more likely than a female to die by suicide. Male deaths represent approximately 79% of all United States suicides.

I was between the age of 18-29, which means that suicidal thoughts, suicidal planning and suicidal attempts were more common for me, suicide is also the 2nd leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24.

An estimated 129 Americans die each day by suicide, and I ended up being one of the 129 individuals on 8/31/2017. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and those who receive treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts/attempts/ideations is extremely low.


Now those are only vague statistics pulled off the internet about suicide. AND these are statistics that are increasing each day, statistics that are breaking people’s hearts each day as their loved ones become another one of the numbers listed above.

These numbers are not actually how I remember my brother, and not how I will ever solely categorize him either, he is not JUST another statistic… but these statistics are still there! They are still facts and they cannot continue to be ignored.

Suicide is still a growing number within each and every community, and what exactly are we all doing to help our friends, our siblings, parents, cousins, neighbors?

We are attending their funerals, posting their obituaries, posting pictures that were taken together…We are saying how much we miss them, how we wish we could see them again, and saying how we wish we could have helped……but are we ever doing the hard work of addressing those who we see are sad, those who we see are struggling with addictions, struggling with everyday life and the people who are going through hard times.

I know for a fact that I worked for over 2 years trying to convince my brother to seek help. 2 years trying to convince my brother he had worth in his life, that he had something to live for, even if it didn’t seem like a lot. But all in all, no help was taken. —

……Because the stigma behind mental health is crushing. People think they are alone, think the world has turned, that everyone has turned, no one is there for you, no one understands the pain, and the pain will never end. These are things that need to be addressed. People are so ashamed of their mental health needs. Ashamed, scared and embarrassed to ask for help, to confide in others because no one will ever understand… BUT want to know another statistic? – about 80-90% of those people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully with help of therapy and/or medications. This is a hopeful statistic, and I know for sure that I would rather attend and celebrate someone’s completion of treatment/counseling than someone’s funeral.

It is okay to not be okay, it is okay to have bad days, to have bad weeks, months or even years, but understanding that there are good days ahead and good days beyond the hardships is important. Your life can get better if you are willing to work at it- and work on yourself…

If you are struggling with your mental health or an addiction– Understand that as someone with mental health or addictions issues, it is okay to struggle, and it is okay to feel low.. BUT it is important to know that even though you feel like it, you are not truly alone, and that no one truly wants to see you fail AND NO ONE wants to have to attend your funeral…

For those of you who are on the outside of mental health/addiction problems, it is important to be there for others as much as possible. It is important to check on your friends if you know they are going through hard times. It is hard to help those who do not want help, but please do not EVER give up on our loved ones.

It’s a bad day, not a bad life.

**Each year, on or around this day, I try and bring remembrance to my brother. Additional to that, this year I would like to also try and bring awareness to Mental Health and Addiction and help to break the stigma we have created around mental health and addictions. It is okay to seek help. Listed below are a few hotline numbers that I know most people will never utilize, but KNOW that they are available 24/7 for all of our convenience. Talk to someone if you are sad, if you feel low, or even if you feel that no one understands what you are going through. And remember, even if you do not feel like it…this world is a better place with you in it.

SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1800-273-8255(TALK)


GRIEF/LOSS HOTLINE – 1-800-395-5755


AMBER HOPKINS 605-680-3430



8/27/1993 – 8/31/2017

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