September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This is a time to forget the stigma surrounding suicide and to share our stories and resources as a lifeline to others.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) lists suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes suicide as a public health priority and reports approximately 800,000 people die from suicide every year.
“We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness website states.
Honest conversations and open sharing help those suffering or those left behind come to terms with what they are feeling. This can lead to a willingness to ask for help or seek treatment.
Many mental health problems such as depression and anxiety go untreated. Too often, these diseases culminate in suicidal thoughts.
The rate of suicide is four times greater for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, reports the WHO.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there is no single cause for suicidal thoughts, which makes it very difficult to cure.
The WHO reports that since suicide is such a complicated and involved issue, there must be coordination among several areas including health organizations, law enforcement, media, politics and education, among others.
“No single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide,” the WHO website states.
Breaking the stigma surrounding this issue would make a significant impact toward solving this problem.
People are embarrassed or afraid to speak out. They are scared they will be seen as weak, or they constantly justify their silence by telling themselves that “someone else has it harder.” While that may be true, it does not take away from the pain they are feeling. All of the feelings and pain are valid and should be addressed.
You are not alone. We’ve all heard this phrase before. To those suffering from suicidal thoughts, these words have lost their meaning. No matter how many times you hear them, you still feel alone. Different movements have emerged to help shift the thought processes and foster a new way of thinking.
The #BeThe1To movement urges people to step up and be the one to help, to listen, to save a life. This movement is geared more toward the loved ones of those who may be suffering. Connecting with people and just talking to them can have a monumental effect. That’s all it may take to save a life.
To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a nonprofit movement that seeks to offer hope and help for those suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts and addiction. It aims to provide support and resources to help ease some of the pain in the world.
TWLOHA’s Tomorrow Needs You movement is focused toward letting those who may be suffering know they are important and necessary, despite how they feel. It tells them they need to keep going to see tomorrow — because tomorrow needs them. Each day, you just have to make it to tomorrow.
Taking things one day at a time is an important method for coping with feelings of depression and anxiety. It cuts down on the overwhelming feelings and fear that may overtake a person and helps them focus on just one little thing — making it to tomorrow.
It can be incredibly damaging to make jokes about committing suicide. While they may have been meant lightly, you never know what another person is going through or what inner battles they are fighting. Making jokes about killing yourself lessens the magnitude of the act and directly mocks the pain of those suffering. Please think twice before speaking, and never joke lightly about killing yourself.
For those who may need help, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is a 24/7 resource available by calling 1-800-273-8255.
I urge everyone out there to recognize the severity of this problem and to take steps to help.
Reach out to your friends and loved ones to make sure they are OK. And if you are suffering, please ask for help. There are endless resources at your disposal and plenty of people who understand how you are feeling.
Let’s end the stigma and get talking because tomorrow needs all of us.