“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” – Helen Keller
A Note From The Author : It is hard to do justice to the devastating impact suicide has on our communities in a handful of paragraphs. The hope is that this post will serve as a catalyst for meaningful conversations and connection around a topic plagued with stigma and misunderstanding. Behind the statistics are countless stories of heartbreak, confusion and deep soul pain. Thank you for reading and daring to join this important conversation so, together, we can change the statistics and save lives.
September is Suicide Prevention Month and September 10th is dedicated as World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide leaves a path of unanswered questions, regret, stigma and blame — especially when suicide claims the life of a loved one. Talking about the hard issues which leave us brokenhearted, confused, and afraid creates space for healing, hope and understanding. Awareness empowers hurting souls to discover they can write a different ending to their story of struggle.
These statistics are sobering and reflect how suicide has become a public health issue impacting individuals, families, colleagues, schools, faith and armed services communities.
The causes of suicide are complex and unique to each person’s story, yet the majority of suicides are related to mental health and substance abuse struggles — which often go undetected and/or under treated.
Though it is not always evident someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there usually are some signs which indicate help is needed.
Warning signs for suicide include (but are not limited to):
- Talking about killing or harming oneself
- Seeking specific tools involved with a suicide plan
- History of previous suicide attempts
- Substance abuse
- Mental health issues
- Family history of suicide attempts
- Giving away ones possessions
- Taking unusually high risks
To those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide:
Isolation fuels the insidious path that says death is the only answer when emotional and physical pain feel unbearable. Shame says the fight is not worth it.
Depression, loneliness, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, abuse, addiction, disordered eating and chronic pain fuel suicidal thoughts. Finding specialized support for the underlining issues is crucial for sustained recovery and relief.
Choosing hope and sharing your story of struggle begins to push back on the lie of shame. Even if it seems pointless, keep reaching out for help. Do not give up and keep fighting, one breath at a time.
Awareness empowers hurting souls to discover they can write a different ending to their story of struggle.
When you know someone struggling with thoughts of suicide:
Talking about your concerns regarding a loved one’s safety — with grace, compassion and curiosity — saves lives. Silence fuels the lies of shame and apathy.
The fear of saying the wrong thing often keeps caring friends and family quiet, but this is the time to be bold and brave; to engage in a conversation with a loved one, say, “I care about you. I may not say the perfect thing, I may mess up in my attempts to help, but I want to try and be a supportive person in your life. I want you to know that you are not alone. Your life matters to me and I want to help.”
To help support suicide awareness, advocacy and raise resources for treatment, check out To Write Love On Her Arms and their powerful theme this year, “We’ll See You Tomorrow.”
For those feeling suicidal or who know someone struggling with suicide and need support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To text for help, contact Lifeline Crisis Chat or Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., click here for international support. Grief and loss resources are available here.
Image via Gillian Stevens