Paris Taliadouros first met James Markley freshman year. Taliadouros was struggling with the transition to college and being away from home. When he found Markley, they immediately clicked, forming bonds over exercise and other shared interests. 

Taliadouros has always been invested in mental health because of his mom’s work with the subject, but when he lost his best friend Markley, to suicide, his perspective instantly changed.

“He felt like there was no other option for this pain. He didn't want to go through it anymore. He didn't want to try to do it,” Taliadouros said. “He was just over it. He just felt like leaving was the only option.”

Taliadouros said he felt isolated, angry and confused as to how this could have happened. When he was placed into COVID-19 quarantine after Markley died, Taliadouros used that time to reflect and start taking care of himself, as he knew Markley would have wanted. 

Taliadouros said Markley was happy and full of life, until his struggles placed him in a dark place. This is the case for many young adults, as suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Taliadouros’ way of honoring his best friend is by destigmatizing suicide, creating conversations that can evoke change and being there for anyone who needs help, regardless of if he knows them. He wants people to stop avoiding hard topics because he feels more people will reach out if they think it has become less taboo. 

“It gives me pleasure in trying to tell other people Suicide Awareness Month and also suicide awareness in general should be more important because the statistics are crazy,” Taliadouros said. 

According to the National Insitute of Mental Health, the United States lost over 47,500 people to suicide in 2019. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.6 times more likely to die by suicide than women. 

Another friend of Markley, club rugby President Ryleigh Cornelius, said men’s mental health is important and something his friends improve in by coming to him to talk about what they may be experiencing. Markley was a part of club rugby and joined his first year at Elon. 

Over the summer of 2020, Cornelius said he and Markley grew closer, by bonding over sports and working out. He also said what impacted him the most was seeing how much the team meant to Markley during his funeral, translating that into how they now pay tribute to him, by chanting his name every practice. 

“They literally had the whole front area blocked out for us. I was sitting at the front row at his funeral. It was insane to just have that experience. There was a jersey with all these different rugby things on it,” Cornelius said. “Just to have all of that out there and to see what we meant to him was definitely really impactful. It kind of made me realize, you know, being the next president of the team that I needed just needed to be something that wasn't forgotten about.” 

Mental Health Resources

Counseling Services336-278-7280
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255
Campus Police 336-278-5555

Not only did Markley leave a personal impact on Taliadouros and Cornelius, but Taliadouros said James gave him motivation to keep going. 

When Taliadouros first met Markley, he learned that Markley was the first person in his family to go to college, and Taliadouros promised himself that he would help Markley graduate. 

While he can not do that now, he wants to make sure he graduates and doesn’t give up when school becomes too much. He wants others to know it is okay not to be okay. 

“Even if you feel like you can't talk to other people, call the hotline, just reach out as much as possible. Don't become indulged in those negative thoughts,” Taliadouros said. “You can reach out to other people, because other people really want to help you. That’s the number one thing that they really want to do.”