People with schizophrenia have a 10% rate of suicide compared with the general population population’s 1.3% rate of suicide.

Suicide is the biggest reason for the decreased life expectancy of people with schizophrenia.

Around 40–79% of people with schizophrenia have reported having suicidal thoughts.

Why is the rate of suicide higher among people with schizophrenia?

Are there specific risk factors that have been identified for our population?

And most important, how can we prevent suicide and keep going?

Host Rachel Star Withers, who has schizophrenia, and co-host Gabe Howard discuss suicide in relation to schizophrenia in this episode of Inside Schizophrenia. Rachel shares her chronic struggles with the desire to end her life and how she has learned to keep going.

Guest Tim “The Sack Man” from SackLifeOfficial joins to share his journey of finding an interesting way to cope with his depression and suicidal ideation through punching bag training. He now travels the country in a VW bus, providing free training for communities.

A warning about this episode of Inside Schizophrenia. It involves a frank discussion about the topic of suicide.

Tim “The Sack Man”

Tim “The Sack Man”

My name is Tim The Sack Man, and punching bag training has allowed me to overcome clinical depression and suicidal ideation, come off medication, and out of therapy with approval from my doctors. I travel the country in a VW Bus with a punching bag attached, providing free training for communities, and I host a free virtual class every day. I donate a portion of the profits to The National Alliance on Mental Illness. I would like to create free public-access punching bags around the world. By following @sacklifeofficial, together we can leverage our numbers to advertising companies so the ads you see will fund free mental health care for all.

Rachel Star Withers

Rachel Star Withers creates videos documenting her schizophrenia, ways to manage and let others like her know they are not alone and can still live an amazing life. She has written Lil Broken Star: Understanding Schizophrenia for Kids and a tool for schizophrenics, To See in the Dark: Hallucination and Delusion Journal. Fun Fact: She has wrestled alligators.

To learn more about Rachel, please visit her website, RachelStarLive.comm.

Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.

Gabe makes his home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He lives with his supportive wife, Kendall, and a Miniature Schnauzer dog that he never wanted, but now can’t imagine life without. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website,

Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Rachel Star Withers: A warning about this episode of Inside Schizophrenia. It involves a frank discussion about the topic of suicide.

Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Schizophrenia. Hosted by Rachel Star Withers, an advocate who lives openly with Schizophrenia. We’re talking to experts about all aspects of life with this condition. Welcome to the show!

Rachel Star Withers: Welcome to Inside Schizophrenia, a Healthline Media podcast. I’m your host, Rachel Star Withers, here with my wonderful as always co-host Gabe Howard. People with schizophrenia have a 10% rate of suicide, compared to the general population’s 1.3%. Suicide is the biggest reason for decreased life expectancy of people with schizophrenia. Anywhere from around 40 to 80% of people who’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia have reported having suicidal thoughts. Why is the rate of suicide so much higher among people with schizophrenia? Are there specific risk factors that have been identified in our population? And most important, how can we prevent suicide and keep going?

Gabe Howard: And joining us today is Tim, “The Sackman” from Sack Life Official, who found an interesting way to cope with his depression and suicidal ideation through, well, punching a punching bag. He now travels the country in a Volkswagen bus, providing free training for various communities. Now, Rachel, I understand that suicide leaves a lot of questions for those who survived. The loved ones, friends, coworkers, people are naturally shocked and suicide has just so much stigma, misinformation, and misunderstanding. And it’s also worth pointing out that many people won’t even listen to information about suicide, believing that they already understand it.

Rachel Star Withers: I always think back to a situation that happened in my life when I was teaching modeling and acting to mainly a high school aged kids, and the classes were two hours long. However, you could come and take more classes. And this young man we’d been seeing for a few weeks, you know, just bad self-esteem and everything. And he was slowly growing, finding his own. And he comes in one day and he stays the whole day, eight hours. He takes classes with us and he, his outfit is on point. He is acting confident. He does a photo shoot. I mean, he’s doing his monologues in the acting class. It was amazing. We were so proud of him, shocked by his growth. And he went home that day and passed away from suicide. All of us were shocked. Me, I’ve been working with these kids for over 15 years. Plus my background in mental health some of the other instructors were full time high school instructors of theater. None of us saw a warning sign. None of us had any idea that he was going to do that.

Rachel Star Withers: Looking back, he had decided to end his life and wanted to go out on top. So he went to the place where he liked the most, and he had a great day with us. Because if you’re like, Rachel, what would you have done different? I can’t say I would have done anything different because it never occurred to me what he was going through, and he spent eight hours with us. And at no point did I think, oh no, I need to pull this kid aside. We need to have a talk. I just thought, wow, look at him. He’s coming into his own. He gots this. I don’t know if he had any mental situations. I don’t know about his home life, but just for the instructors that spend eight hours with him that day, it really was hard for us to wrap our heads around that. And honestly, I don’t think there’s anything we could have done differently that would have prevented that.

Gabe Howard: Whenever I hear stories like this, I instinctively react by thinking, well, if there’s nothing I can do about it, why even bother? Why even try? Why are you telling me this? And I want to let the audience know if they’re feeling the same way. That the reason that we’re telling you this is because we need to look at suicide prevention differently than maybe we think. It’s not a situation where just look for X and then do Y and you’ll end up with Z. This sort of black and white thinking, all or nothing thinking is, is, is getting us in trouble. We need to understand that it is very nuanced, and we also need to understand that even if we do everything right, 100% prevention is not reasonable. And if we start to look at these nuances, if we start to dig into these things and we understand that it’s not as simple as maybe we have been led to believe or have tricked ourselves into believing so that we can feel more comfortable, I think that we will save a lot more lives and there’ll be a lot more prevention.

Rachel Star Withers: This does still beg the question why is the rate of suicide higher in people with schizophrenia? I, I think common sense, you would think it’d be highest in people with depression. And obviously depression plays a part in schizophrenia. It plays a part in the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. And some of us, like myself, are diagnosed with both schizophrenia and different forms of depression. This has been noticed all the way back in 1927, a professor, a neuropathologist, commented that among the frank mental disorder groups. Apparently, suicide occurs more often among the dementia praecox patients than any other types, and dementia praecox was what they used to refer to before schizophrenia. So this is 1927. You have people working in mental health noticing that the people with schizophrenia die by suicide more often than the others. So why is that? I think my gut reaction, Gabe, was, well, the hallucinations and delusions, maybe they make you that, you know, many of us have command hallucinations. The jury’s out on that. Actually, they found that many times when people with schizophrenia die by suicide, that there are some different factors that come into play. A big one is paranoia. There used to be a subtype of schizophrenia called paranoid schizophrenia. So, some of us do have more paranoid symptoms. Those with paranoid symptoms are eight times more likely to die from suicide than people with primarily negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Rachel Star Withers: Falling under this paranoia symptoms kind of things to watch for in loved ones is also suspiciousness. They’re on edge, they’re agitated. Those tend to be kind of red flags with the paranoia symptoms. Suicide in people with schizophrenia is also tied to higher functioning schizophrenia. The better organized patients who are more likely to be social, who are more likely to have energy, who are more likely to be discharged from the hospital, also are more likely to carry out a suicide attempt and be successful. That is almost kind of the opposite of what you expect. You kind of think, oh, well, that person has it together. Whereas this person over here who is delusional at this point and raving, I worry about them doing something like that, but it’s actually it’s the opposite. When I’m delusional and I’m trying to catch my arm that has slithered away from me, I can imagine it would be very hard for me to carry out a suicide attempt, because I’m out of my mind.

Gabe Howard: This is an important example of where we have this misunderstanding surrounding suicidality, and frankly, even life or death. And we have to understand that the average person with schizophrenia and again, it’s not 100%. I want to be very, very clear on this, but the average person with schizophrenia is still a person.

Rachel Star Withers: When comparing patients with psychotic disorders and non-psychotic disorders, they found that patients with psychotic disorders rarely give a warning that they are about to attempt suicide. This is especially true of men with schizophrenia. Keep in mind that, like you said, Gabe, people with schizophrenia are people. And there’s a host of different reasons. You know, I could lose my job and be feeling hopeless, and that could be the reason that I decide to take my own life. And it has nothing to do with the schizophrenia. But schizophrenia can have a hand in things. People with schizophrenia tend to be more impulsive and more likely to act on these thoughts. A situation comes up and I feel that my life is falling apart. I am more likely to act on these impulsive thoughts than someone in the general population without schizophrenia. That’s a really hard thing when it comes to loved ones, is understanding that sometimes, like what would just be a normal thought to a person, it can play out differently in someone with schizophrenia.

Gabe Howard: Rachel, I don’t mean to fall down a rabbit hole here, but I just have to ask. You live with schizophrenia. You have this data, eight times more likely to die by suicide. 1.3 in the general population, 10% in your population that that that has to hit. How do you as a person who lives with schizophrenia feel about this realization? How do you feel about this data?

Rachel Star Withers: It actually makes me feel better because this has been such a big issue in my life. I’ve always had very intense suicidal impulses. Suicidal ideation. And you just feel like there’s something obviously wrong with me. You shouldn’t be feeling like you want to kill yourself 24/7. And it is comforting on some level to know that, okay, wait a second. My brain is wired differently that no, this isn’t normal. It’s been documented. And now that I know, hey, these are some of the things I need to be careful for. Yeah, I’m more impulsive than, let’s say, the normal person. I tend to be more paranoid than the normal person. Knowing this information, it helps me know what I need to do to stay alive. It helps me recognize the red flags in my own life and things I need to be careful about. It. It does make me worry though so much for other people with schizophrenia. You think you’re alone and you’re just messed up. And if your brain’s telling you to constantly hurt yourself, there must be a reason.

Gabe Howard: I appreciate you sharing that, Rachel. Thank you.

Rachel Star Withers: Now there are some risk factors that you can look for in people with schizophrenia. And please keep in mind this is going to change person to person. So just because someone doesn’t fit into one of the things we’ve said that, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to worry about them. Some very interesting risk factors were, people with schizophrenia who tend to be suicidal, have a higher IQ. They also have a greater insight into their illness. Being in the early stages of the illness. This is not to say that as time goes on, you won’t. But the early stages of the illness during people’s first hospitalization, first few psychotic episodes, they are more likely to attempt suicide. Another risk factor is having a healthier baseline of functioning before schizophrenia onset.

Rachel Star Withers: When you’re able to compare yourself. Well, wow. Okay. Two years ago I was on a full ride scholarship and then now here I am. And I can’t even attend school. Also being able to have a realistic awareness of the deteriorative effects of schizophrenia and having a non-delusional assessment of the future. That. That’s hard, Gabe. I mean, because that sounds like therapy right there. We need to talk about what you should expect with schizophrenia in the next ten years of your life. And we need to have a real assessment of your future. Rachel, we need to sit down here and be like, hey, you probably can’t work full time for the next ten years. In some people, that’s a detrimental learning what you can and can’t do. It can really hurt some people with schizophrenia and think, what have I lost? Chronicity of the illness. How chronic the schizophrenia is also leased to increase suicidal risk. Observed at one hospital, a medical professional said that many of the people with schizophrenia who had passed away from suicide did not do so in psychosis, but rather they seemed burned out, passive and docile. Many of them were emotionally blunted, and some were thought to actually be in remission. He concluded that the greater loss of functioning during the course of an illness, the more likelihood of suicide. Chronicity of the illness. How chronic the schizophrenia is also leased to increase suicidal risk. Observed at one hospital, a medical professional said that many of the people with schizophrenia who had passed away from suicide did not do so in psychosis, but rather they seemed burned out, passive and docile. Many of them were emotionally blunted, and some were thought to actually be in remission. He concluded that the greater loss of functioning during the course of an illness, the more likelihood of suicide. And what this is all leading to is hopelessness. Many patients and loved ones who have informed about the loss of people with schizophrenia in their life have stressed that hopelessness, anxiousness and talking of unbearable pain were the warning signs that they noticed.

Gabe Howard: So for all our friends, family members, caregivers, the family, what, what, what should they do when they notice?

Rachel Star Withers: When we’re talking about an immediate threat of suicide, you need to get help, get people involved. If you’re talking about just in general, you’re watching over your loved one and you feel that they’re becoming more and more hopeless, that they’re kind of starting to downward spiral. The biggest thing is to keep an eye on them, be in their life and speak up. So many people are afraid to bring up suicide. They’re afraid that, well, if I ask the person, are they thinking about hurting themselves? That might put the idea in their head. That is considered a myth. Evidence suggests that if you ask about suicide, generally it does not increase those thoughts, and in fact, many times asking about suicidal thoughts has a positive effect. It lets them know that, hey, you’re willing to talk about it. It helps by the fact you brought the topic up. You were willing to be the one to say hey, whereas I might be afraid to talk to you, Gabe and say, Gabe, I have this big thing to tell you. Whereas if you broach the subject, it makes it easier. Be in their life. And the biggest thing is to stay calm and listen.

Rachel Star Withers: Awareness of schizophrenia has been noted to increase suicide risk overall, however, awareness of treatments.

Rachel Star Withers: Awareness of therapies has been shown to decrease the risk of suicide. That’s what’s important, is that when you are talking about awareness of the schizophrenia, it’s just not this big dark hole. That’s always kind of been my thing, Gabe, because when I first found out I had schizophrenia, when I was first searching about it, all I found was scary stuff. And. Yeah, that that was not hopeful for me. And I have a lot of people who I kind of get blowback from. You know, they’re like, well, how dare you act like schizophrenia isn’t that big a deal. You know, a lot of people have died due to schizophrenia. And I’m like, I agree, and I’m trying to stop more people. Because I don’t want them to feel hopeless. I don’t want them to see this as my life is over because I have schizophrenia. So knowing that you can have schizophrenia but keep going and still accomplish things, yes, things are going to change. But there are treatments out there. There are therapies out there. There’s new things emerging that might not exist now, but who knows in a year from now what options we might have? That is one of the best ways to prevent suicide among people with schizophrenia. Is letting them see that there is hope. Teaching them that, hey, this is where the research is going.

Gabe Howard: I just want to clarify, is this a type of therapy, a peer support group? Is this a medication adjustment? What’s the what’s the specific mechanism of addressing this?

Rachel Star Withers: The answer is all of the above, because it’s going to be all of those things that are going to be tools to help the person, whether it’s just helping them with schizophrenia, whether it’s helping them at this moment with suicidal ideation. All of these things are tools that can help them, and making sure that they know that there’s tools, that they know that there’s options and that there’s going to be more options in the future, giving them hope. When it comes to psychotherapy with a patient who has schizophrenia and is suicidal, help them learn to bear the despair. Help them learn to accept what is happening. Let them mourn the loss of it. And then work to establish a new identity. Working to establish, hey, okay, this is where we’re at now. Let’s see where we can go. To me, that’s so hopeful, Gabe. As someone who deals with this 24/7 that that’s I really liked reading that more and more. They’re realizing that people with schizophrenia need hope. Seems like that’s common sense. But at the same time, apparently it’s not. You know, we look about society. No one is saying, wow, those people with schizophrenia, they’re doing great. It’s a good time to have that disorder. Like, no, it’s still definitely a giant black mark. And I. I can’t think of anything better than giving hope to people with serious mental disorders that, no, this isn’t the end of the world.

Gabe Howard: I do think the reality is, is that crisis in in schizophrenia is very public, and wellness and success with schizophrenia is of course very, very private. It’s almost never discussed. People with schizophrenia have a real reason to hide. If nobody ever sees anyone living well, it’s reasonable to believe that no one does, especially if you’re working with somebody with schizophrenia who already has a compromised thoughts or symptoms like paranoia or symptoms like depression. I cannot agree with you more. That’s why people like you and shows like this are so, so vital to the continued success and wellness of people living with schizophrenia.

Rachel Star Withers: For loved ones, a very important note is that many times when people with schizophrenia attempt suicide, it does tend to be in more drastic means than the general population. Suicide by poisoning was one of the number one ways. The second was via a gun or firearms. So if you are a loved one and you’re noticing these red flags, a very good thing to do is to step in and make sure that there is no access to firearms. Look around at the medication situation. A lot of times people will overdose on the medications that they’re taking. This could be a thing where you might have to step in and say, hey, how about I keep up with your medication and I’ll give you what you need every day? Is that something that you would appreciate? Don’t be afraid to speak up. My own parents have kind of helped me with my medication over the years, because it can get confusing when you have all these different medications. You don’t need to feel bad. Like asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do. And my loved ones out there offer it. Don’t be afraid to offer it, because the person with schizophrenia might not have even thought about like, oh hey, I never even thought that would be something you would do for me. But thank you, yeah.

Gabe Howard: And this is a great opportunity to remind all of our family members, loved ones, caregivers, and an offer of help is just that. It’s an offer. It means they have the right to decline it. So, for example, an offer of help is not, oh my God, you’re going to hurt yourself and screw this up. And I’m so worried. So I’m taking your medication and you call me and I’ll bring it to you. That’s a demand. That’s an order. What you want to say is something like, I am really concerned about your ability when you’re a very, very sick. And it’s worrying me. Would it be okay if we made a plan for me to manage your medication and give it to you every day? What do you think of that? How can we work together on this? Remember, if you partner with your loved one, with schizophrenia, you’re going to get a lot farther than if you try to order them to do what you think is best.

Rachel Star Withers: Keep in mind, there are so many crisis hotlines. A lot of times we think of crisis hotlines and be like, well, I told the person to call. You, as the loved one, can call. Also, if you don’t know what to do, if you’re out there and think, I don’t, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say, I don’t. How am I supposed to deal with this? The crisis hotlines can help you also. It also could be helpful if you talk to the person with schizophrenia. Be like, hey, let’s call together. Let’s both be on the line. Don’t feel like you have to bear this burden alone. All right? That’s why these different and I, I hate to give crisis hotlines, Gabe, because we have listeners from all over the world. So please make sure you check your regions. But most places have some sort of crisis hotlines and different things like that that you can call and usually talk to someone live and be like, hey, this is the situation. Also texting lines and whatnot.

Gabe Howard: And I want to remind all of our listeners that you can’t listen to one podcast. I don’t care what podcast it is. You can’t read one article. You can’t just do one thing and decide that you’re an expert on suicidality in schizophrenia. So just remember, everything that we have shared is a little bit of knowledge to give you the foundation to continue to ask questions, to continue to learn, to continue to be nimble. Please do not rely on the information in this one podcast and frankly, don’t rely on the information in one blog article. Don’t do one anything. This is a very, very serious topic, and you want to give it more than just a single podcast. Even a podcast as great as the Inside Schizophrenia podcast hosted by Rachel Star Withers. It should not be your only source of information. So please, while this information is deemed reliable, it’s medically reviewed. It comes out from Healthline Media. Continue your education past this podcast for the protection of yourself and for those who you love. Now, Rachel, I understand you have an incredible guest to introduce.

Rachel Star Withers: Yes, as listeners of the show know, I am a bit of a martial arts nerd. I love martial arts. I love all different types of fighting. And for my nerds out there, there is Black Belt Magazine, and this is like one of the longest running publications dealing with martial arts. It has had all of the greats in it, all of these articles. So, a few months ago they had a feature about someone very interesting. That is how I found out about our guest was him being featured in this magazine. And I have been blown away over the past few months of watching what he’s been doing to raise awareness, and how he has been working to keep going in his own life.

Rachel Star Withers: I am so excited to be talking today with Tim, the Sackman, from Sack Life Official. Thank you so much for joining me today, Tim.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Thank you so much for having me, Rachel.

Rachel Star Withers: Tell us a little bit about your background before sack life.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: So pre 2019 I was just your regular 9 to 5 working guy. Married, religious, just going through the sort of the daily grind and paying bills and whatnot. And what happened was it I started to have a decline in my mental health. I started to lose everything around me, my friends, my family, and eventually my marriage, my business. And at some point, I ran out of things that I was living for. And it was that accumulation of loss that brought me into clinical depression and suicidal ideation. So one morning I woke up and I was completely overwhelmed by the suicidal ideation. It was the only thing on my mind. And so I called my therapist, sort of in an informative way, just to let them know that, hey, today, you know, I’m going to end this. I’m going to end this pain and suffering. I’m going to end my life. Like, if I do one thing today, that’s going to be it. And they told me that I needed to call the suicide hotline, at the time. And so I did. And then the suicide hotline directed me to my local emergency room. And then, they put me in this small white room, like you see in the movies, with nothing in it. Just a tiny glass window, wires behind the glass, and

Rachel Star Withers: I’ve been in that room. They seem to always have them in hospitals.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: [Laughter] Yeah.

Rachel Star Withers: It’s just like it’s in the movies, but it’s also in, like, almost every hospital.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Yeah. It’s real. That’s a real thing.

Rachel Star Withers: Yes. [Laughter]

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: I didn’t know. I thought it was like a made up Hollywood thing or something, but, that is a real thing. And at the time, I had left an extreme religion and lost contact with my family and been cut off from my family by that religion. And so the only other person was my mother. She was like my emergency contact who wasn’t at the time, wasn’t speaking to me, and the hospital called her up and asked her if she would come pick me up, and I still remember her face showing up in that little glass window.

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Gabe Howard: And we’re back discussing the high rate of suicide among people with schizophrenia.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: When I got back to the house, I was just overwhelmed with anger. Basically, anger was at the front of my mind because I felt like I had lost everything, and I turned to every outlet I could think of. I had been in therapy. I had been on multiple medications. And now the emergency room situation just was like, none of this is working. I’m continually to get worse. So I was angry and I knew I needed some way to get that out in a healthy direction. I looked it up, and I found that a punching bag is a good, cathartic release for anger. And I went out immediately and I bought a punching bag, brought it back to the house. I had two roommates at the time and I said, listen, guys, I’m putting a punching bag up in the living room.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: It’s not a discussion. And I’m going to hit this thing. And they were like, do what you got to do, man. I still remember the first hit, the first impact that I cracked that bag and I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no training or anything before this, but the relief that I felt. The weight that came off of my shoulders from hitting that bag and having a healthy release was something I couldn’t get from medication, from therapy, from the talk tools, from emergency rooms. From anything you know, other than at the moment that that punching bag. And so I continued to hammer away for around two hours, and I had bloodied my fists and injured my hands because, again, I did not know what I was doing. But mentally I had felt better than I had felt in years. It was such an empowering feeling and such a relief at the same time. And it started to show me that I could really use my time and energy to build myself up and put that anger in a direction that actually served me instead of breaking me down. I knew that it was something I wanted to do as much as possible. On day 20 of training on the heavy bag, I recognized that my suicidal ideation had stopped. And that’s prior to any martial arts training or any kind of formal training. This was just me hammer hammering away at that bag and thinking about the things that made me angry, thinking about the things that caused me pain.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: And I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was doing was I was engaging in what’s called somatic healing. So I sort of stumbled into this field. And when I recognized that my suicidal ideation had stopped on day 20, I needed to know why? Because I tried everything before this and nothing had had that powerful of an effect. So I got deep into the research, and I started reaching out to mental health advocates and professionals and trying to understand, why is this, how is this happening? How can I maximize this benefit? On day 40, my roommate started training with me and started to experience mental health benefits. Self-confidence, self-esteem went up. He got a raise at work because he knew what he was worth. You know, he knew what he was capable of. I did the same thing because it helped me empower myself with real self-confidence. Something that I could back up, you know, both physically and mentally.

Rachel Star Withers: And when did you decide to go from just those everyday normal? Well, not normal. Those everyday intense workouts to taking the show on the road? Where was that? Because there’s one thing to work out every day. There’s a whole nother thing to do what you do. So tell us about what it is that you’re doing. Exactly what this has grown into.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Yes. So what, what sparked that was my roommate, my roommate’s progress. I was like, wow, if I share this, then more people can benefit. So I thought, well, I’ll just train publicly and I’ll just help myself publicly. If people are viewing that and they’re motivated and inspired by it, maybe they’ll do it for themselves. And that would be better than me just helping myself. That’s what spurred me to share it. So on day 40, when my roommate started and immediately felt relief and benefits, we built the page Sack Life Official and all it was at that time was just me hitting a bag publicly. I didn’t have all the mental health tools yet, but I knew how it benefited me and I knew I needed to share it because of the effect it started having on my friends. And local martial artists reached out and they were like, hey man, we love what you’re doing, but you look terrible. You are. You have no technique. You’re they’re like, let us come in.

Rachel Star Withers: Martial artists love to do that. [Laughter]

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Yeah. They’re like, you’re total trash. You need to fix your stance and your form and, you know let us come in and give you fundamentals so that you can give people something with more value and show them how not to hurt themselves. So, I’m extremely grateful to those guys. All my first trainers were just local martial artists from my town who came in and trained me in fundamentals from Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, taekwondo and karate. That really amplified the benefits of that heavy bag training, because now I wasn’t injuring myself and breaking myself down, and now I was giving people something that they could do the same with. They could empower themselves with these tools and not break themselves down. So sharing it with my roommates, now I’m sharing it with local martial artists. The word’s getting around, and I wanted to share it with more people because, you know, progress begets progress.

Rachel Star Withers: Right.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: And so I decided I’m going to turn my living room into a dojo. I padded the floors. I got rid of all the furniture. I put up a heavy bag, a double ended bag, a speed bag, and I said, I started opening the invitation to anyone I met who wanted to try. I said, hey, if you’re struggling, or maybe you’re just stressed out and you want to see if this could be a good relief for you, stop by, 100% free. Hit the bag, see how you feel. If it’s something that works for you, great. If it’s not, at least you know, you know?

Rachel Star Withers: Mm-hmm.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: And I started having regular people come through, kids, adults, everybody. And, uhm, COVID hit and I had to close. I had to close my doors. So I knew I had to close the door physically, but I still needed to share this with the community. So I shared it with the virtual community. So I started giving people something they could do in their homes during COVID, with or without equipment. All they would need is a little bit of room to stand up and punch at the air in front of them, and that started having a tremendous ripple effect. Hundreds of people started to follow the page and started to have positive experiences in their homes, in isolation, with no equipment, positive experiences on their mental health.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: I knew the more I shared it, the better it got. How much more can we do with this? How much progress can we make? How powerful can we make these tools that I’m sharing? I started linking up with the mental health community and the martial arts community. It just kept growing and booming. And we’re doing this virtually. But I’m also now in person, and I wanted to bring that physical tool to the people, the heavy bag that helped me save my life. I knew I needed to find a way to bring it to people, even though dojos were closed and businesses were closed. So I decided I’m going to attach it to a vehicle. And I had always dreamt of owning a VW bus.

Rachel Star Withers: Right.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: I know that it puts smiles on faces, it opens doors for conversation, and I thought this will be the perfect vehicle. And it just so happens that the best busses available are in California. They’re not rusted out if you’re looking for one. And so.

Rachel Star Withers: And yours is amazing. It looks like it’s an incredible condition I love yours, it’s so cute in all the Instagram posts and videos.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Thank you so much. It’s a, it’s a dream come true to have this bus and to be able to put the tool that saved my life on the bus and serve the community with it and watch it have this positive ripple effect. And I started serving the community and sharing the tools in public parks and making it available, and it has just grown from there. And we’ve impacted the countless, countless people’s lives benefiting their mental health positively by just sharing tools. We still have a virtual class going every day. It’s been running for 1,615 days. And now I have the physical ability to share this tool with people again, for free, to the public. If anyone wants to stop by, you can always find where the bus is serving the community at I’ve been able to link up with national organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and they have events across the country where I’ve been bringing the bus and serving hundreds to over a thousand people at these events and sharing these tools. And it only grows. It only gets better. And I can’t wait for the next 1,615 days.

Rachel Star Withers: That’s awesome. Now you keep saying the 1,615, which at time of recording that, that’s what we’re at.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Yes.

Rachel Star Withers: And you, you actually have a sign that you show. Why is that important, do you think?

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: The sign is incredibly important. It’s not just a sign. It is a mental health tool on its own. So the way that it works, it’s called a progress tracking tool or a goal accomplishment tool. And this is a way that you can make consistency easy. You can make you can build your self-esteem, your self-validation easily with this tool. And the way it works is by setting for yourself a daily attainable and sustainable goal. And each day you accomplish that goal, you add another number of proof to your daily goal accomplishment chart. And what happens is that gives you a reference point., If you’re dealing with clinical depression and suicidal ideation, it’s very hard to give yourself credit for anything. When you have a physical tool to remind you of how far you’ve come, it’s very easy to give yourself credit even on days when you’re in a negative thought spiral or you’re going through a blue period, that sign or that tool is going to remind you that this is going to pass, that this is a temporary feeling and that you can still accomplish your goal even in the face of a life-threatening mental health condition. And that gets more powerful every day. Every day you keep track of it. So I always tell people set for yourself an attainable, sustainable. Think about what you can do on your worst possible day. For me, it was 5 to 10 minutes of martial arts training, but it doesn’t have to be a physical goal. It can be making your bed in the morning. It can be practicing gratitude. It can be journaling. It’s the smallest baby step that you can take for yourself on that day. And then when you document it, recognize that you’re displaying strength and endurance by simply staying here. Now you have even more proof of your strength and endurance because you’re moving forwards, and that will only add up and that progress will multiply. And it has affected every aspect of my life. Honestly.

Rachel Star Withers: What’s your mindset? How do you get over that to be able to do this every single day?

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Right. So difficult days are going to happen, right? That’s part of life. My motto or my slogan attached to Sack Life is beat depression. But it’s very carefully chosen. It’s not cure depression, it’s beat depression. So what that’s implying is that we have to do the work, we have to show up, and we have to engage in that process every day so we can beat depression into submission. So because I know that there will always be challenges each day, I also have to make sure I’m doing something to address those challenges. So on the difficult days, which are not in comparison to when I was suffering from clinical depression, my difficult days now are nothing. They are like a hair, you know, like they’re barely anything. It’s still I’ll still go through a lull or a tough time or a blue period. Maybe I’m exhausted. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep last night. But I know I’m going to accomplish my goal because of the progress tracking tool. It’s made the daily goal accomplishment a fact, and because I have that tool in my life and I’m sharing my daily goal with others, I know I’m going to show up for others as well. My aim was to keep it sustainable and also mutually beneficial for all. It benefits me to show up for my self-care. It benefits others for me to share it. It also helps me create accountability for myself by sharing it publicly and everybody wins. There’s no downside. So if it’s a tough day, I look at that chart and I know I’m going to hit my goal today and I remember I’m going to share it because of the amazing, beautiful community that we have supporting each other.

Rachel Star Withers: If someone out there is listening right now and they’re thinking, okay, well that that’s dumb. Exercise. I know to exercise. What difference is standing up and punching the air going to make. Like how is that going to save my life? What would you say to them?

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: I would say that before I hit a punching bag, I had no idea how it was going to change my life. Until I did it. And then I experienced it. And if I hadn’t experienced it, I might not be here today. So, I would say try it because you deserve the chance to get better. And if you don’t try it, you’re cheating yourself out of that chance. So please show up for you.

Rachel Star Withers: Throughout your journey with Sack Life Official, what’s been the hardest part?

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: So the hardest part on this journey is when people approach me and they learn about it. But they comment that they don’t think that this is for them. And I don’t know. I’m still working on how to get past that challenge of someone self-sabotaging and having that defeated mindset where they won’t even give themselves a chance to experience relief. That is the biggest struggle. And I’m open to solutions. If there are any mental health professionals out there who have good advice on how to overcome that from people that they’re trying to help.

Rachel Star Withers: That that kind of reflects back to when you started all of this, that state that you were in when you wound up at the hospital that very like defeated state. And it’s hard to force someone. It’s definitely hard to force someone to be like, give yourself a chance.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: It’s impossible to. To my experience, it feels impossible. I know when I was in my darkest state, I couldn’t see the way out. I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t see that anything would offer me relief. And I know that people tried. It wasn’t until I made that decision for myself that I’m going to try, that I deserve a chance to see what I’m capable of for myself. Again, this is the struggle. I don’t. I’m still working on it for others.

Rachel Star Withers: Looking back, is there anything that someone could have said or done that would have changed your mind before you wound up at the hospital?

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: I think that what I’m doing now and sharing the experience is what I would have wanted someone to do for me. I think if you have found relief from your mental health struggles that you should be sharing that relief, the process and the tools. Because that’s the only way. Now I’ve seen, I’ve been able to be a part of the change that I want to see in the world.

Rachel Star Withers: Absolutely incredible. That that’s perfect. That’s one thing we’re always talking about here on our show is. Learning to help yourself and then recognizing it in others. Most of us here on the show, we have schizophrenia, and we hear so many doctors and whatnot talk to us therapists, and they’ve told me so much stuff over the years. But it’s funny, the most, some of the most helpful things have come from other people with schizophrenia. Being able to see other people with schizophrenia doing something amazing or even just living a normal life, because at times that doesn’t seem possible. So especially in the side of suicidal ideation where. It’s like, I don’t think I can go on another day and then to meet somebody who’s like, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I know exactly what you’re talking about, with the little white room in the hospital. I’ve been there. I’ve tried everything and to be like, wait a minute, but you’re still going. Here you are on day 1,615. I wonder what my day 1,615 will look like.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Yes, that’s the dream. So I’m doing my best to make it come true.

Rachel Star Withers: I love that you’re doing that. How can our listeners learn more about you and Sack Life Official and follow you for your classes?

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: You can follow me every day, virtually, from the convenience of your own home on Instagram @sacklifeofficial. If you’d like to learn more ways to heal somatically, you can check out We have tons of free resources there, and if you’d like to find the bus for in-person training, the bus locations are posted up on our Where’s That Bus channel @sacklifeofficial on Instagram.

Rachel Star Withers: It’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Tim, for joining us and sharing what you’re doing, not just sharing it here on our show, but in general, you know, noticing a need in the community and then other communities that you weren’t even in and going to those communities. I think that’s so cool that you’re hitting the virtual space, but you’re also doing it in person and traveling. It’s very, very cool and an amazing message. Thank you.

Tim “The Sackman” Manthey: Thank you for allowing me to share this with your audience.

Gabe Howard: Rachel, of course, great interview like always, but the Volkswagen bus really stole the show for me. I recognize that that you will get to the part that we’re supposed to be talking about, but I, I the an actual Volkswagen bus, during the interview process. We got to see it. He gave us a tour of it. He uses a local gym for a shower and bathroom facilities. Van life. Like #vanlife. This gentleman personifies it. And I just I thought that that was an incredibly interesting part of his story. But, Rachel, my question coming out of these interviews is always what were your takeaways? What did you think? What were your favorite parts?

Rachel Star Withers: This entire episode. It’s a very serious topic. So there’s a sadness to it. There’s like a heaviness. And at the same time, there’s also it’s kind of cute. It’s kind of like sweet and hopeful to see how people are adjusting. One of the most powerful things that Tim said was that this is an everyday thing. You know, he’s tracking this every single day. He didn’t say, hey, he started punching a punching bag and that cured his depression. Like, no, this is a continual thing. And he said, beat depression into submission. Not beat it so it goes away, but that you’re in control. That you’re taking control over a situation and that that’s very powerful to me. Ignoring how adorable the bus is, ignoring, you know, the glamor that we all know from Instagram of van life. There’s a very serious undertone to it all that this is what he’s doing to survive. And he goes all across the country helping other people. Saying, hey, try this. It might not help you, but it might. And I think it’s important to give yourself the chance for it to work. To me, that’s beautiful. I wish I could be like, hey, everybody out there punching a bag will make your depression go away, will make you want to live life. But the truth is, it’s not. But you can try it and you deserve the chance to feel better. You deserve the chance to at least try.

Gabe Howard: There are many pathways to recovery. There are many coping skills and if it works for you, you should do it. I’m not suggesting that everybody move into a Volkswagen bus and hit a punching bag, but clearly this gentleman has made it work for him, and he’s helped many people find a better outlet for various emotions and issues. And I agree with you that is that is stunningly beautiful. And it is it is definitely outside of the box thinking. And we need more of that in mental health treatment.

Rachel Star Withers: The desire to kill myself has chronically plagued me. It’s always an option, kind of just always standing slightly off to the side available to me. It’s like there’s a giant self-destruct button in my brain, and at some point it got pushed in and it stuck like that. Over the years, I’ve gotten better. I’ve gotten much worse. I’ve tried so many treatments and therapies and vitamins and hobbies and books and you name it. I’m currently on the max dosages of three different antidepressants, and that’s just to keep me level. That does not make the suicidal ideation go away, but that helps keep me level and here. One thing about me is that I have done some pretty odd things in my life. I attended Adult Power Ranger boot camp. I’ve been topless skydiving. I’ve wrestled alligators. I’m always going on strange adventures. Many times, they are also quite reckless. Sure, I’m adventurous, but this is also a coping mechanism of mine. I have no bucket list because I’m constantly doing whatever pops into my brain. I live from one distraction to another. And more often than not, that’s how I make it through the day is I just find distractions. On one level that that’s kind of sad. You’re like, Rachel, that to stay alive, you have to keep distracting yourself. I also think it’s beautiful and hopeful that I get to do all these really cool, wild, amazing things. And that’s my way of staying alive. I love Tim the Sackman’s sign that counts the days that he has beaten his depression, and I love that he’s able to add another day each time.

Rachel Star Withers: I actually did something similar this year, but kind of the opposite. I printed out calendar sheets for the first five months of the year, and I planned something big for each month, and I highlighted it, and I have it on the wall. That way I can look and see, okay, I have this big event and then this one, and then this one. February, my brother visited, March is South by Southwest. April, I go to China for three weeks, and in May I have a training workshop with Dan Inosanto, who taught Bruce Lee nunchucks. So all I can say is that no matter what, I will be here at least through May, I will be at that workshop. I am very excited about it. Nobody has to worry about is Rachel going to harm herself through May. You guys are safe. And guess what? I’m going to keep adding things. When I find something for June, I’m going to add that. In July and August and September and October and November and it’s going to keep going. And for me, that’s been working great this year to be able to see these, hey, I’m going to be here at least through May because I have these events that are going to happen, and I have something to look forward to. Find a way to give yourself hope. Because you absolutely deserve it. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Inside Schizophrenia. Please like, share, subscribe and rate our podcast and we’ll see you next time here on Inside Schizophrenia, a Healthline Media podcast.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to Inside Schizophrenia, a podcast from Psych Central and Healthline Media. Previous episodes can be found at or on your favorite podcast player. Your host, Rachel Star Withers, can be found online at Co-host Gabe Howard can be found online at Thank you and we’ll see you next time.