Gay Chamblee official opens up about depression, suicide attempt

A recent suicide in Chamblee prompted City Councilmember Brian Mock, one of Georgia’s few openly LGBTQ elected officials, to speak publicly about attempting suicide as a child and battling depression.

Mock (photo) said the emotional Facebook post he wrote Sunday about his ongoing fight with depression “was truly not just about being gay.”

“It was more so about hopelessness. It was about being different and feeling alone,” Mock told Project Q Atlanta. “And I thought I could speak to that as I’ve been there.”

Mock was notified of an “apparent suicide by train” in Chamblee on Sunday, triggering the 900-word response on Facebook (see below).

He wrote about the difficulty of growing up gay in a Southern Baptist church in Alabama in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Mock wrote that he attempted suicide by swallowing a bunch of pills when he was 14.

“You see, just like the person who jumps in front of a train, you aren’t really thinking about how painful it will be, you are only thinking about how painful life already is,” he wrote.

Mock said that after his mother died in 2018, his depression returned. He made clear he is not suicidal, but continues to battle depression. He encouraged those facing the same struggle not to lose hope. 

“I’m not going to tell you to cheer up or to smile. You smile when you feel like it,” he wrote. “All I’m going to tell you is that I see you, I hear you and I’m here for you if you need me, don’t ever feel like you are alone. And don’t ever feel ashamed, it’s called being a human.”

Mock, who sponsored an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance that passed in early April, is one of 16 openly LGBTQ elected officials in Georgia. They include five members of the state legislature, and Doraville City Councilmembers Stephe Koontz and Joseph Geierman, South Fulton City Councilmember Khalid Kamau, Gwinnett County Commissioner Ben KuAtlanta City Councilmember Antonio BrownHiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, DeKalb County State Court Judge Mike Jacobs, Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jane Barwick. Arnaud Huguet made history in 2016 by becoming the first-ever openly gay man to win countywide office in Fulton when he was elected to the part-position of Fulton County Surveyor.

Mock was first elected to the city council in 2013 and is serving his second term. He said he was elected to represent all the people of Chamblee, and that includes improving their quality of life.

“And that’s where being a gay elected official comes in,” he said. “It’s not just my responsibility, it’s my duty to use my position to advocate for equal rights for our LGBTQ community. I won’t ever ask for special treatment for anyone, just equal treatment.”

“I’m still fairly private because of the way I was brought up, but as I’ve gotten older, I've found myself, literally. And as one of a handful of LGBTQ elected officials in Georgia, I intend to continue raising my voice for equal rights,” he added.

Mock’s Facebook post drew an outpouring of about 100 supportive comments and a mention in Monday’s AJC. He followed up with a Facebook post on Monday about Nigel Shelby, a gay 15-year-old Huntsville, Ala., boy who committed suicide on April 18 after facing homophobic bullying.

“This is what I’m talking about,” he wrote. “Homophobic bullying in our schools is nothing to make light of. When a kid has had enough...”

Mock was notified about another suicide in Chamblee on Tuesday.

“That’s the second suicide in Chamblee in 72 hours. This man had reached out to ask for mental health care prior to doing this,” he told Project Q. “He had not only reached out for help, but he’d been allowed to buy a gun in the last few days. Our mental health system in Georgia is absolutely broken and we need to talk about it.”

“I don’t know if my post helped anybody or not, but I thought what the hell, I might as well say it if I’m thinking it,” he added.

Mock’s full post from Sunday is below.