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Jackson native Darryll Stinson makes a point during a Mental Health Forum at Jackson College Monday.  Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV News.

By Jeff Steers
JTV News

(March 20, 2023 4:01 PM ET) Jackson Public Schools graduate Darryll Stinson appeared to have everything going for him in life during the late 2000s.

He was on scholarship as a defensive end for Central Michigan University, he was working toward a degree, and possibly playing at the next level. 

But that all came crashing down following a debilitating back injury and becoming hooked on opioids to compensate for the pain.

Mental health issues and even suicide considerations sent him into a tailspin.

The JPS graduate spent nearly 45 minutes explaining to students, college representatives, and community members how he spun himself out of the situation with help from health professionals and his family.

Stinson was the keynote speaker at the Uniting for Hope and Healing Mental Health Forum held Monday at Jackson College. The event was sponsored by the college’s Multicultural Affairs Department in Bert Walker Hall. 

A panel discussion was led by college representatives including Chief Clinical Officer of Family Services & Children’s Aid Sarah Sabin; health and fitness Coach Nacoya Weatherspoon; JC psychology student Emani Braden; Henry Ford Behavioral Health Case Manager Michaela Foster; and Jackson County Undersheriff Christopher Simpson.

Stinson is a Jackson native who has since moved to Georgia working as an author, motivational speaker entrepreneur, and pastor. Next month he will be part of a speaker panel – along with Magic Johnson and several others – talking to business leaders.

A dozen years ago Stinson would never have dreamed of being a speaker at a major conference like that.

Stinson suffered a back injury as a freshman at CMU during a weightlifting drill. He eventually had a very complicated surgery to fix a pinched nerve that left Stinson losing feeling in his leg. 

But the Jackson standout kept going until he was kicked off the CMU team prior to graduating.

“I knew that I was not playing my best and I did not like myself,” Stinson said of the injury and its affect. “That was tough as my self esteem was built on my athletics … it was attached to much of my identity.”

Following a bout with pain-killing pills, Stinson tried to kill himself. 

“I didn’t see myself in the way other people saw me,” Stinson said. “It (mental health state) was my perspective but not reality.”

His mother threw herself on the hood of Stinson’s car preventing him from attempting to commit suicide.

After much counseling and help from family members, Stinson came up with his own plan for success using CARE – Calm, Activities, Relationships, and Expression. 

“This is my system … what is yours?” Stinson asked those in attendance. “Write it down.

“It is not about what you know, it is what you do.”

Stinson chuckled at the fact he was kicked out of school once for talking … now it is his profession.”

Jackson College President Dr. Daniel Phelan opened the forum talking about mental health and his perspective.

“Mental health disorders are different ways, different days, for different people,” Phelan said. “We all need to lean into it … it’s our problem.

“Mental health is the responsibility of every one of us.”

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