Today is the kick off of Suicide Prevention Week (September 5th-11th), and Saturday September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. Like many people, this is something that is near and dear to my heart. This matters to me as a mental health professional, a mental health advocate and blogger, someone who has personally struggled with Depression, and as a caring Christian person who cares about others & believes every life matters.
The majority of people, whether they realize it or not, have been touched by suicide in one way or another. For some it may be that a friend or family member has attempted or completed suicide. For others, it may be that they have struggled with their own mental health and have thought of or even attempted suicide. Still others may work in a profession where they encounter people who are suicidal on a regular basis, such as therapists, doctors, nurses, etc. Whatever the case, suicide is a life altering epidemic that needs to be addressed, talked about, and worked towards preventing it from happen.
Although the number of suicide attempts and completions may be somewhat higher in certain demographic groups, suicidal thoughts and suicide itself does not descriminate. As a mental health therapist who works in an ER, I can honestly say that all ages and walks of life come in with thoughts of suicide. We have had people as old as their 70s and 80s come in with suicidal ideations. We have males and females come in. We have people who have or at one time had well paying jobs, including people who work in hospital settings that come to us. We have people who are unemployed and homeless come in. Some people come in having struggled with suicidal thoughts for years and others who it is their first time. We have people that don’t know why they feel depressed & suicidal and others who know exactly what triggered their suicidal thoughts. We have people who are calm and well spoken, and we have people who are extremely angry and agitated. Depression and suicidal thoughts can affect virtually anyone.
There are so many things one can do if they are interested in taking steps toward decreasing the deaths caused by suicide, but let me give you a couple ideas to get you started. You can donate to reputable organizations such as To Write Love On Her Arms (https://twloha.com) and the American Society for Suicide Prevention (https://afsp.org). These are both wonderful organizations that I have personally supported. You can use social media to start conversations related to suicide. If you have ever struggled with thoughts or attempts personally, you can even share the reasons you didn’t go through with it to encourage others, using a hashtag such as #ikeptliving, which is the theme of To Write Love On Her Arms suicide prevention campaign this year.
If you are personally struggling with thoughts of suicide, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Text the crisis line 741-741, call 1-800-SUICIDE, set up an appointment with a therapist, share your struggles with a friend or family member you trust, go to your local hospital.
Know that if you are alive, there is a reason why. You have a plan and a purpose. You matter. You cannot stop suicide on your own. However, if you start a conversation, donate to an organization, or reach out for help, you are taking a step in the right direction toward reducing the number of deaths by suicide.