Suicide Prevention Week Can Make a Difference
“Suicide” is a dirty word. We don’t want to talk about it, but if we want change it, we must overcome the uncomfortable.
When we hear that it’s Suicide Prevention Week, most of us will post the hotline number on social media, say we care and move on. For those of us who have dealt with the pain and tragedy of suicide, the day takes a much heavier toll. It’s such a difficult concept for some to grasp: the thought of being so depressed and hopeless that you want to take your life. The heaviness of that concept doesn’t always resonate with the world.
When something this serious doesn’t affect you or your loved ones, it’s so easy to turn your back or to deny that it’s a problem. No matter how many statistics we read or how many deaths are reported, nothing will bring it home except experience. No one wants to lose themselves or someone to suicide, but it happens at alarming rates across the world. To deny that suicide is happening is to succumb to ignorance.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. Since 2011, the annual suicide rate in America has jumped from 11.27 to 13.42. AFSP states that it is estimated that 0.5 percent of the adults aged 18 or older made at least one suicide attempt in 2016. This translates to approximately 1.3 million adults.
In the video above, speaker Brad Simkins tells the story of his best friend Kyle’s struggle with suicide. Brad first met Kyle after bullies pushed him to the ground, making his glasses and books fly away from. Brad stepped up to help and the two became best friends. Four years later during Kyle’s graduation speech, Kyle revealed that he had planned his suicide that day, and Brad’s kind words stopped him.
While you should never feel responsible for a suicide or for someone’s mental health, you never know how kind actions could change someone’s life. Call your friends and really have a conversation. No phones, no distractions, just be open to talk and listen. By opening the opportunity for conversation, you let your friends know that you truly care.
Most significantly, you must be aware of the signs. While not everyone exhibits signs of suicidal ideation, it is important to be educated. They’re not always obvious. People thinking about suicide may talk about not wanting to live, or unbearable pain. Their attitudes may drastically change, whether their depression worsens or they become violent. They may also start saying goodbye to family and friends, or giving away their prized possessions.
We will never be able to prevent every suicide, nor should suicide loss survivors feel guilt or responsibility. However, we can continue to do everything in our power to lessen the deaths and remind people that they deserve to live. Your story isn’t over yet.