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WACO, Texas – Author Thomas Fellows is using his talents to help others overcome the same challenges he has faced.

“I have been suicidal twice,” Fellows said. “I have bipolar disorder, and so I’ve been through a lot of pain in the last few years.”

His book, Mrs. Dubose’s last wish – the art of embracing suffering, is about embracing pain and turning it into a strength rather than a weakness.

“I think if you can appreciate pain, and know that you’ll have more empathy because of it, you’ll be able to read people more effectively,” Fellows said.

He gives all of the profits to an organization for suicide awareness.

Christina Gibson is the lead crisis counselor for the Heart of Texas MHMR, and she says the most important thing for someone to do if they are suicidal is to share that with some – as scary as it may be.

“Be honest with people if we’re not doing well,” Gibson said. “And hopefully that’s one of the things that we as a community and culture can do is reduce the stigma associated with depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.”

For someone who is around a person they think may be suicidal, Gibson says it’s important to ask directly.

“The most important thing we can do is not skirt around the issue of suicide,” Gibson said.

She recommends that everybody saves the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in their contacts.

“I never know when someone around me is going to need that as a lifeline,” Gibson said.

The Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255.