“While I agree empathy is good, I’ll tell you, the big brother of empathy is compassion.” – Dr. Uchenna Umeh
Having success and achievement in one area doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found your place in the world. We are all presented with different trajectories in life. You may be choosing one path for now, but perhaps that’s not the road you’re meant to travel for a lifetime.
What happens when the little voice in your head starts whispering that you should do something else? Do you answer the call, or do you feel like an imposter for wanting what feels bigger than you?
That is the real start of Dr. Uchenna Umeh’s story, author of “How to Teach Your Kids About Racism,” and this week’s guest on “Authors Who Lead” — who talks about how she switched gears well into a successful career as doctor in order to dedicate her life’s work to ending youth suicide.
So, when you feel called to a greater mission, will you shrink back and stick to the status quo? Or will you stand in your power and accept it?
Dr. Uchenna Umeh was seven months pregnant with her second child when she kept thinking about calling her friend in Nigeria — only to find out she was too late. Her friend had committed suicide.
Then, one of her patients, a 15-year-old boy struggling with depression, killed himself, and it didn’t stop there. Another child jumped off a five-story building, and yet another overdosed on stolen Xanax and slept for 36 hours.
As more and more children came to her with suicidal ideation, cutting, anxiety and depression, Uchenna found it odd that she was attracting these cases. A mother of one of her patients suggested that she had a “healing spirit,” which the doctor doubted until, soon after, she saw a suicidal 7-year-old patient — a little boy who tried to hang himself twice and should have been dead.
She asked the hospital to take one day off a week from her full-time job, in order to visit schools to talk to the kids about depression. When her supervisor said no, she quit.
“That was where the speaking career was born. I literally quit my job, cold turkey,” she said. “I needed to go get this message out there so people can start looking at what’s going on. Why does a 7-year-old child want to kill himself? And then it turned out that the youngest child to kill themselves ever, in the history of mankind that we know of, was only 5 and in America is two 6-year-old girls. So this is not something that is really rare.”
I was blown away by Uchenna’s willingness to help others. Despite her successful career as a doctor, she chose to give up practicing medicine to be a spokeswoman for youth suicide prevention — and that is incredible to me.
Uchenna’s book, “How to Teach Your Kids About Racism,” is intended as a guide to help parents educate their children about racism. This is just one of the many books that she wants to write, she told me, drawing from the inspiration of serving others.
To follow in Uchenna’s footsteps, keep in mind my greatest takeaways from our conversation:
What was your biggest takeaway from the episode? Do you think you’re on the right path, or do you feel drawn to a different calling? Tell me in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. If you have a message inside of you that needs to be written, today is the day to start. Don’t delay — your next big step is just a few words away.
Appointments for Life Coaching: https://www.calendly.com/drlulu
Uchenna’s articles on KevinMD:
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