It’s with such a heavy heart that I sit down to write out this post, but I’m writing it anyway because the most important thing that we can do with situations and topics like this is to talk about it. Yesterday, our world was rocked by the suicide of yet another well-known face. Suicide, it seems, has been at the forefront of our conversations around mental health over the last year due to media coverage of the deaths of Kate Spade, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, and other celebrities, the popularity of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”, and the shocking news headlines of teens “challenging” or encouraging one another to take their own lives. I can only hope that these conversations will lead to real and lasting change.
It’s not my intention to load you up with statistics about the prevalence of suicide to prove that it’s a problem; I think most of us are painfully, deeply aware of this by now. However, many of the articles I’ll provide links to will include this type of information if that interests you. My goal today is only to shed some light on this issue and provide resources that you can use if you are struggling with thoughts about harming yourself or taking your own life.
The question that we are always left with in the wake of suicide is “Why?” We find it hard to understand how someone that we love deeply or that seemed to have so much going for them in life could feel that they had no other or better choice than to end their precious life. Celebrity suicides have taught us that no amount of success, fame, or fortune can make someone immune to this struggle, either. This article from Psychology Today identifies five significant factors that may contribute to suicide: “sense of burden (Would my loved ones be better off without me?), sense of emotional pain (How much suffering is in my life?), escaping negative feelings (Is death the answer to ending this pain?), altered social world (Is death the answer to my troublesome social relationships?), and hopelessness (Is there evidence that life is going to get any better?)”. Mental illness can rob us of our hope, our happiness, our faith; our very will to live. When we don’t seek help, these feelings only grow. Fear of judgment or other repercussions often keeps people silent when they begin to experience these feelings. It is a MYTH that talking to someone about their suicidal thoughts increases the likelihood that they will do it. It’s the silence and the secrecy that is deadly. This is why we have to talk about it. This is why we have to make it not only acceptable, but as easy as possible for people to say, “I’m not okay!”; to reach out and ask for help.
What Do I Do?
First and foremost: if you are struggling with thoughts of harming or killing yourself, please tell someone. Tell a parent, trusted friend, spouse, or a mental health professional. Mental illness tricks us into thinking that no one will care, that others would only be bothered by it, or that they would in fact be better off without us anyway. I’m here to tell you that this is NOT true and you may just have to trust me on that for now. People care and will help you if you only ask. Here are some resources that you can use to reach out for professional, confidential help:
- Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- Live chat with someone at IMAlive
- Live chat with someone at National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Text with someone at Crisis Text Line by texing “HOME” to 741741
- If you already see a counselor or a doctor, talk to them about your thoughts
- Go to a local hospital or emergency room
To read more about statistics, risk factors, and prevention, here are a few more articles and websites:
Finally, to end this post on an encouraging note: Read what Boggle the Owl says about asking for help to stay alive. I guess owls really are wise, after all.
As always, please take good care of yourselves.