Suicide and our Communityby Mary Clymer on September 18, 2020
September is National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Talking about suicide is tough. It puts us in a vulnerable spot and forces us to deal with those dark emotions inside. We’ve been taught to have shame around the subject of mental health and we are all suffering because of it.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), somewhere in the ballpark of 45,000 Americans take their own life every single year.
Read that again.
This is not something that is happening in other neighborhoods, or in other cultures. Thoughts of suicide are not reserved for the young, the lonely, the poor, or the underprivileged. Suicidal thoughts don’t have any prejudices. The realities are that any community of people can be hit, often without warning, by the tragic loss of a loved one.
Suicide Awareness is about taking away the stigma around the conversation of mental and emotional health. When we as a society decide to have an open conversation it helps us all to feel less alone about our own dark places.
Many struggling humans won’t seek out help because
1. When you’re in a dark place it’s hard to see all the support and love around you.
2. We have been plagued with thoughts of inadequacy from outside sources continually telling us that we are not enough.
Losing a Loved One
The impact of suddenly losing someone you love can be intense and overwhelming. Leaving you to wonder if you could have done more, or noticed any signs. The heaviness of a harsh world closes closer around you.
You feel more alone.
But you don’t have to go through the impact alone. There are caring professionals and support groups to help you heal and move forward.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available to help those going through a loss as well.
Again, that number is 1-800-273-8255
Suicide in Our Schools
When we talk about suicide the most common thought is of the youth. Young budding minds with so much to live for. Being a teen is tough. Even if you are from a loving supportive environment.
Talley High School students have had a lot of loss over the last couple of years. The end of the 2019 school year ended with a tragic suicide. Again, just weeks ago the students and staff are now coping with news of another tragedy loss. A former student gone before he could understand his full potential.
“The big thing is to help them (the students) remember what you're going through now is not the end-all. Things change.” Says Stefany Anderson, a teacher at Talley High.
When loss hits, students and staff are looking around and asking what they can do and how they can help. Stefany expressed gratitude towards the Renton School District for providing great support for everyone. She told me training is available through the district. Although she, and many of the staff at Talley, have also done training outside the district. They understand that knowing what signs to look for and paying attention to students' emotional radar could save a life.
I asked Stefany how she felt she could best serve her students now as we are all left feeling isolated and alone. Without pause, she answered
“Provide space so they know they are supported. Let them express their thoughts, and remind them that they are a part of a bigger community.”
Stefany said we all need a reminder to look around and check in on our people. She said we all need to brave enough to ask for help. That most humans will help if you say, “Hey I’m struggling.”
Helping someone in a time of need helps us all to grow.
Here are 5 ways you can help
If you think you are dealing with someone who is having suicidal thoughts it can be difficult to approach the subject. Try and remember that the discomfort is worth possibly saving their life.
Ask “how are you?”, and mean it. Or just point-blank ask if they are thinking about killing themselves. It’s so important that we check in on each other. Especially now as we all are experiencing isolation and social unrest. Our ideas about life and the world around us have shifted and we are all feeling it on some level. Check-in with everyone. Oftentimes it’s the ones who seem the strongest that need the check-ins the most.
People are revealing themselves to us all the time. A Facebook post that seems to off or out of character might be the hint you need to check-in. Open a conversation about mental and emotional health. Then listen to what they are saying, and don’t judge them. They need to know someone cares and that they are heard.
3. KEEP THEM SAFE
Whether on the phone or in person. Do not leave them alone if you are seriously concerned. If you cannot do that make sure they are in a secure place with another caring person as you get more help. Remove any objects that might be used in a suicide attempt.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and follow their guidance.
If danger for self-harm seems immediate, call 911.
5. FOLLOW UP
Once the incident has pasted it will be followed by a road to recovery. Often including shame, embarrassment, and struggle. Continue to follow up. Check in to remind them they are being held in your thoughts and that you care.
If you are feeling Suicidal you are not alone.
Deciding to leave this world will only transport your pain to the lives of those you love.
You do matter.
You are worthy.
There are loving hands all around you. Even though you might not see them. They are there. Find those who care about you!
Reach out. Call 1-800-273-8255
Make it through this moment. Be the reason someone else finds a way through their darkness. Know that you are part of a bigger community.
September is Suicide Awareness month. Awareness that 45,000 lives are lost every year and no one is talking about it. On top of that, for every suicide, there are another 25 suicide attempts according to the CDC. It is the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 18-65.
Spread the Word
New Directions Behavioral Health has been leading the way for this conversation for the past 25 years. They have beautiful posters, flyers, and easy bullet points provided by the CDC to download and share.
Be a part of the conversation. Help yourself and others to feel less alone. Together we can start a conversation that could save a life.
Do you have a story of hope?
Have you or someone you love struggled with mental or emotional health? How did you make it through your dark night?
Share with us so we all feel less alone.