Dan Howell fans share supportive messages after he opens up about mental health

14 June 2019, 15:34

Dan Howell opens up about suicide attempt
Dan Howell opens up about his mental health. Picture: Dan Howell

"I want anyone who's ever felt like this to realise you are never trapped. There is always hope. You just need to believe in yourself and get to the other side."

Daniel Howell's "coming out" video may well have sent the internet into an absolute meltdown last night (June 13), but it was his powerful story about how he was driven to attempt to take his own life, and his discussion of mental health that is arguably one of the most important parts of the story.

As you're probably aware by now, Dan returned to YouTube after several months away with a video titled "Basically I'm Gay" in which he opened up about his sexuality and his relationship with his long-term YouTube partner Phil Lester.

"Basically I'm Gay" is an anomaly amongst the many 'coming out' videos on YouTube. Instead of an intimate, bedroom setting with minimal editing that we're used to in coming out videos, Dan opted for something different, almost theatrical; a dark backdrop with subtle neon lighting, graphics and illustrations popping up over 45 minutes, while Dan wears shiny, black sequin jacket. It was a very deliberate and intentional break from what has gone before.

MORE: YouTubers show support to Dan Howell after incredible coming out video

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And while ostensibly the video is about Dan coming out to his audience, nearly 10 years since he uploaded his first video to the platform, there is a greater sense of purpose to what Dan was trying to achieve with this video.

As he retold his story about his struggles with his sexuality, the bullying he received at school and media speculation about his private life and how that affected his mental health, he also spoke about how his story fitted within broader themes like gender, sexism and internalised homophobia - meaning it felt more like a video about the long-lasting dangers of living in a heteronormative society can have on queer people, especially on their mental health.

In his video, Dan goes into detail about the homophobic bullying he suffered throughout his teenage years while at school. The torment, he says, got worse as time went on.

"[The bullies] started heavy drinking and getting into drugs and things suddenly got quite scary, as people joked about setting fire to a tent as I slept in it at Reading Festival, or saying, 'You know that notoriously unstable guy? Yeah, he says he's going to kill you next Saturday.'"

He continued: "This was definitely the lowest point in my life. I just felt totally alone. Confused. And I deeply hated myself. I used to ask God in case he was there to please just make me straight and everyone stop. But I saw no end. No escape. No way to change the world or who I was. So, one evening I thought 'fuck it' and attempted suicide. I say attempted because just before it was too late I thought...[cuts to graphic]"

"I felt kinda bad for a few days but otherwise I pretended it never happened and I didn't tell anyone. Until now. Literally."Β 

Dan continues with a powerful message of hope for those who are or have been in similar positions.

"I know. Pretty dark, right? But hey, spoiler, things kinda worked out! I mean, still got a lot of issues but here I am!"

"I'm so glad I failed, for so many reasons. For people in my life, for the future I would have wasted. The most important being that I thought I was trapped in a situation forever when in reality the entire world I lived in and my life changed completely. I thought it was hopeless but there was so much to hope for. And that's it. Time changes everything. With the lives we have, we can try anything we've dreamed of. I want anyone who's ever felt like this to realise you are never trapped. There is always hope. You just need to believe in yourself and get to the other side."

Amen to that.

Fans have been sharing Dan's message and applauding him for his honesty and bravery in sharing his story.

If you're affected by any of the issues discussed in this piece, make sure you head over to Samaritans website for help and advice.

In the description of his video, Dan also linked to various charities and help lines, should anyone need any helpful resources. You can find them here.