This week, Cory Levy speaks to three guests from different backgrounds in life who have each experienced depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. They are also willing to talk about it and to share how they’ve overcome their lowest points through entrepreneurship and technology.
We hope this episode will help anyone listening who is going through a similar experience. If you are, you’re not alone. There is hope and people here to help. If you would like to speak with someone, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and our friends at Crisis Text Line are available 24/7 through an anonymous text service. Text 741741 to speak with a trained Crisis Counselor. Today we speak with Zach Latta, Amanda Southworth, and Ben Yu.
None of us are beyond mental health issues. In this unique episode of OFF RCRD, host Cory Levy speaks with three young entrepreneurs who have all had to face mental health issues, depression, and more head-on, and overcome additional obstacles to get to where they are now. We combined three interviews into this one powerful episode, intersecting the stories of entrepreneurs Amanda Southworth, Zach Latta, and Ben Yu.
Amanda Southworth (@amndasuthwrth) is the homeschooled 16-year-old iOS developer behind apps AnxietyHelper, Verena, and Whizard App. After struggling with depression and attempting suicide between 5-20 times, Amanda found her platform–something she could turn to as a powerful and creative outlet. “My platform is development. Whenever I have an issue with something that I see, I make an app about it.”
Asked for her advice for others who are struggling and contemplating suicide, Amanda’s advice is to slow down, think, and wait. “I really felt suicide was the only option….the future and opportunities that are coming up are so vast and expansive that you have no way of guessing what they’re going to be based on this little sliver of your life.”
Zach Latta (@zachlatta) is the founder of the Hack Club, is a Theil Fellow, and was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30. Through Hack Club, Zach helps students lead “coding clubs where beginners learn to code through building things.”
Before getting to a point where he could create opportunities for others through Hack Club, Zach had to find a way out of what he described as a “horrible pit” of depression. “One thing that really helped to get me out of that horrible pit I was in was finding an outlet that let me connect with other people. For me, that was coding.”
Thiel Fellow and entrepreneur Ben Yu (@Intenex) left Harvard after a semester to save his life. “I knew for a fact that if I’d stayed there any longer, I definitely would’ve killed myself. I wanted to figure out something else to do.”
Before getting into entrepreneurship and tech, Ben decided to see the world. Around the time he conquered Kilimanjaro, Ben learned about the Thiel Fellowship and was accepted into the program. Ben later went on to co-found Sprayable and The Stream Token, and he credits his success to being able to overcome his struggles. “I think the worse thing that happens to a lot of people is that they get in a place where they’re unhappy with their lives, but not so unhappy that it really propels them to change. Whereas, for me, I was so unhappy that it was very clear if I didn’t actually do something about it, then, I would not be willing to go on living. “