Although we are just beginning to say hello to February, this year has been off to a sad start with several people in my immediate circle—individuals I knew personally, or who are connected to friends or family members—committing suicide. There’s no easy way to acknowledge or accept this, or even an uncomplicated way to type those words. Each has had a different reason for doing so, but what remains constant is the sadness left in the wake.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with an average of 121 individuals dying a day. With such an important topic like suicide, why is it not addressed more often? Of course there is a National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September and a World Suicide Prevention Day, but we also have “national days” for things like tacos and doughnuts. Now, I am not saying tacos and doughnuts do not deserve recognition, but when it comes to suicide, there is a difference in importance.
Every day should be suicide prevention awareness day. Every day should be an opportunity to communicate the importance of knowing the signs of a person contemplating self harm what steps to follow to get help, and resources available.
There are many reasons an individual may decide to end his or her life, but here are six notable reasons:
Suicide leaves survivors with the question of "Why?" Although a solid answer to why an individual may consider suicide as a viable option may never be known, absorption of the negativity recently seen in our society can play a part in finalizing a decision. Media outlets have reveled in stories of division and dejection, while social media constantly bombards readers with angry posts, body shaming, illusions of perfect couples and lives, and false happiness. It has become a landmine of hatred.
I chose February to bring this subject to light to remind ourselves that as we become deluged with Valentine’s ads, posts, and stories, we need to pay close attention to those around us. Take the time to notice. Notice the behavior of friends, family, loved ones —take a moment to ask, “How are you?” and care about what the answer may be. Don’t settle for just, “Fine.” Most individuals are not “fine,” yet use the term loosely to avoid a personal discussion of feelings. Step-up and initiate the conversation, take the lead!
Suicide is life changing, life ending, and only a brief moment of darkness that can be altered with intervention.
If you know someone who is showing the signs, take the time. If you need support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.
There are also apps that can be downloaded onto mobile devices to help with thoughts of suicide for personal use, or to use with others. My3 is owned and maintained by Link2HealthSolutions, Inc., the administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.