*This post lists personal objectives and third party links unaffiliated to this blog, but are intended for informational and educational purposes. If you are dealing with a suicide related emergency, please call 911 immediately.*
I feel led to touch on a topic that, quite honestly, I’m not comfortable talking about at all. I’ve actually sat down to write about this twice before now and ended up backing out. But I realize that my hesitation to address the matter just goes to show how utterly important it is to tackle. It’s not safe for us to ignore this topic. And waiting is exactly the opposite of what I should be doing.
I want to bring attention today on suicide.
Wow. Even typing the word on my computer screen makes me unsure in worry that I’m not doing this right.
Let me just tell you what’s in my heart.
I have two best friends that I thank God for every day. One that I’ve known from teenage years. We were each other’s maid/matron of honor at our weddings. And we’ve kept in touch and pick up where we last left off every time we talk, even though we’ve lived hundreds plus miles apart for most of the time we’ve known each other. A friendship as genuine and as lasting as hers is rare.
Then there’s my fellow Army wife best friend. We bonded through a deployment and were subsequently blessed enough to be sent to the same duty station twice! So she lives about five blocks from me now, even though we met 5,000 miles and an ocean away from here.
The two of them haven’t met but they’ve heard of the other, of course. But ironically, and sadly, the thing they share the most in common is the very thing I’m discussing today. Both of my best friends are victims of suicide, by the way of being a surviving family member.
My close-to-me best friend lost her brother to suicide before I met her, but the pain of it has been a part of who she is for all that I’ve known. And my connected-by-heart-forever best friend just lost her dad to suicide earlier this year.
I was somewhat thankful to have words from one to deliver to the other, but the sum of the whole coincidence and experience is quite honestly more than what I feel I can handle sometimes when I hold these women up in prayer. As I traveled to and walked beside my friend in the days following her father’s death, my heart shattered a million times over, and I couldn’t stop thinking, with as much as I hurt for her and her family, I knew her pain was still obviously immeasurable compared to mine. And not being able to take pain from someone in need is agony.
Such is what the survivor will feel for the rest of their life. Such is what I want to, in their honor, try to prevent in anyone else.
In honesty I, like many, really don’t know what to do! Or what the right thing to do is. I know that my experience, that literally comes down to “knowing someone who knew someone,” does little to qualify me as a speaker on the topic. But my heart feels it is essential to at least put this information out there so that maybe it does help someone. Maybe we can save someone’s life with our knowledge. Bottom line is: I just don’t want anyone else to ever hurt the way I’ve seen my friends hurt. And I definitely don’t want any human being to ever think they are out of options in our world.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34
I feel the safest thing I can leave you with are real resources. Can you take a moment to read through them? Can you think about yourself, your needs, people who love you? Can you think about others, their actions, their words and circumstances? Just for a second, stop and think about it. Please.
Here’s what I’ve found for you.
KNOW THE SIGNS, and KNOW WHERE TO FIND SUPPORT
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) says that “Suicide Prevention starts with every day heroes like you.” And the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) gave me the even more profound quote of “Suicide prevention is the collective effort to stop suicide from occurring.” Collective effort. The responsibility falls on us all.
AFSP says that “Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed the current coping capacity of someone suffering from a mental health condition.” And if you know or suspect that someone has a mental health condition, I encourage you to seek advice from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI goes to great lengths to stop the stigmas associated with mental illnesses and help individuals and families affected to build better lives for themselves. In fact, it is Mental Illness Awareness Week right now. (2-8 October) Have a look at what NAMI is sharing on this topic and perhaps share some yourself.
After the understanding and the stats and the signs, then what?
Call 911 for any emergency, of course. But should you find yourself or someone else in a mental health related or possible suicide crisis, don’t hesitate on calling the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. A skilled crisis counselor will listen to you, decide how best to give unprejudiced support, and offer other resources specific to your needs.
As a military wife, the dramatic realization that, on average, over 20 veterans per day commit suicide is haunting and very close to home considering my immediate community. There is a Veteran Crisis Line available to veterans or anyone who needs to reach out on their behalf. As well as a text and online chat option here.
Another area in relation to this topic that concerns me more now that I have a teenager, is bullying. The stats that I collected in this area are shocking. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year.
Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7% have attempted it.
And a Yale University study suggest that victims of bullying are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a free app called KnowBullying to help parents talk with their children about bullying. Education is the key to so many issues. I encourage parents to educate themselves, and then their children. Do what you must to keep a clear and open line of communication between you.
Aside from these hotlines and chats, online resources, and apps, it is important for you to be okay yourself with having a conversation with someone about suicide. Admittedly, I still get uneasy about this, and I’m not sure why. But I have signed a pledge to at least be not afraid to have a conversation with someone regarding mental health. I am a safe person to talk to, and I want people to know that.
“Sometimes, a caring conversation is all it takes to give someone the strength they need to carry on. Yet it’s hard for many people to reach out for help when they need it.” -AFSP
You can take the pledge as well. Let people know that you’re a safe person to have a real conversation with about mental health and suicide in their time of distress.
September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. All month. And it really bothered me that I saw more social media coverage on a ‘national double cheeseburger day’ and ‘national coffee day’ than I did exposure over this very important and lifesaving topic. And my own silence did nothing to help, which is why I’m trying to stand up and be the change that I want to see now.
I researched to give you the most up to date and accurate resources available. There are SO MANY. Who knew? I’m elated to know that now YOU actually do.
Please, keep these resources easily accessible. Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in your personal phone. Share this information with your loved ones. Talk to your children and teenagers about bullying. Let others know you are a safe person to talk to. You can make a difference. You can save a life. Make it your business to prevent suicide.
“Suicide prevention starts with every day heroes like you.” -AFSP
If you would like to peruse more active participation in Suicide Prevention Awareness, you can start by looking at the suggestions and resources available here.
“Suicide prevention is the collective effort to stop suicide from occurring.” -SPRC
And a proactive step further, Suicide Prevention Resource Center advises you to actually Make a Plan on your part to prevent suicide. Click on the image below for more details about SPRC’s “Strategic Planning Approach.”