Edit: I actually wrote this blog on Monday night, a few hours before I learned about the suicide of a good friend’s brother. It makes this post, and my reflections on suicide and its effects, even more real. I hope you’d consider keeping her family in your thoughts, and maybe even donating to funeral accommodations for their family. If you’d be legitimately interested, just e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll get you the link to their GoFundMe page. I’d really appreciate it.
Thanks, so much, for reading … and considering…
Did you know that September is Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month?
Suicide can be and is a tough subject to talk about. If anything, it’s one of the biggest elephants in the room possible. Everyone has their own opinion on what suicide means, its intentions, its causes, and so on. But as the graphic above says, one conversation can change a life. And, frankly, sometimes it can’t. Have you ever had anyone express suicidal ideation to you? Was it frightening? Your answer is probably yes. And if so, I encourage you to pause for a moment, and think: how frightened must that person be, too? Even if they can’t verbalize or rationalize it, suicide can be complicated and frightening for everyone involved.
More than anything, people who have been touched by suicide understand it in a completely different way. A way that is more thorough and affecting than anyone else could possibly imagine.
I’m grateful to never have had an experience with suicidal thoughts or ideation myself. I have had friends and loved ones express their ideations to me, as well as students that I’ve worked with. And that weight on your shoulders, yes, is a heavy one. But at those times, every time, I’ve immediately shifted my thinking to how I could possibly be there, as a resource and an outlet, to that person. I focus on how grateful I am that they trusted me and begin to think about how I might be able to help them.
In our country, suicide is actually the 10th greatest cause of death. That means on an annual basis, more than 40,000 people lose their lives to suicide. And not each person that attempts suicide passes away; there is about 1 death for every 25 attempts. That means 117 lives are lost to suicide on a daily basis.
Trying to be there for someone in the toughest of times is partly where my life-defining goal came from. My goal of meeting 1 new person everyday isn’t just about me and the stories I love and the adventures I’ve been blessed to go on, obviously. It’s just as much about making someone’s day. It’s just as much about being there for someone else. Just like being a support system to anyone you love, especially someone who may be suicidal. Like I said in my 1st TED talk, “smile at someone random on the drillfield. You never know how it might make their day.”
1 thing I’m most proud of that I never really talk about are the letters and notes that I’ve received from many different people over the years about how my positive disposition and outlook on life has affected them positively. I’m not saying that helped that person out of having suicidal thoughts or anything like that, I’m just saying that it’s better to try and make someone’s day than to be so consumed in yourself that your’e not concerned about anyone else at all. Sometimes all that person needs is someone. Sometimes, no, you can’t help. But very often you can.
2 years ago I wrote a vulnerable and heartfelt post, similar to this one, on suicide. I’d like to share it again here. This year, it was this article that I read on The Mighty that brought the purpose of the month to the front of my mind. It’s an important conversation to have, and I’m more than happy to re-start it here on the blog.
If you need support at this very moment I strongly encourage you to talk to someone. They will listen. A guaranteed outlet can be the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Their number is 1-800-273-8255.