#WorldSuicidePreventionDay: We Need To Talk
Kate Spade And Anthony Bourdain
World Suicide Prevention Day - What Are We Doing To Prevent Suicide?
It's World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).
What does that even mean?
I know that throughout my teaching career, I've had a small handful of young men and women suicide, and I don't understand why. I know there are individuals who struggle from one day to the next, and I don't understand why people see suicide as an answer.
Perhaps it's because I've never been in that sort of dark place where suicide seemed like the only answer. I am not even sure what the thought process would be that would even take someone to that point. I do know that there are individuals who, for one reason or another, believe that the world would ultimately be better if they were not a part of it.
What's perhaps most disturbing about the ongoing numbers of individuals who contemplate suicide is there are those who just won't talk about it. We are told that we need to talk about suicide - that we need to talk about mental health - yet when we discuss our mental health and admit that we might be struggling, people are either afraid to listen because they don't know what to say or how to respond, or the person struggling doesn't know how to begin describing how they feel for fear of somehow being treated differently or like they are "crazy."
The absolute truth is that we need to talk about suicide. We need to talk about how people are feeling and look at possible ways of helping those who are struggling. We've got to start the dialogue and keep it going because if we don't talk about suicide and mental health, these are issues that will remain in the shadows and no one will talk about these issues at all.
When we shut down the dialogue about suicide, it becomes unsafe to talk about, and that shouldn't be the case. While answers about suicide and mental health continue to be discovered and while people try to encourage those who are struggling to find solutions to dealing with the challenges they're facing, there are still more questions than answers.
When are we going to start dealing with mental health and issues revolving around suicide in the same way we talk about physical health struggles? While simple discussions don't necessarily solve everything, it's a good first step. Without discussion, how can we let people who are struggling know they are safe to talk?
The thing is, if we don't start talking about the hard topics, how are we going to understand them better? How are we going to support those who might be left behind if, God forbid, someone suicides? The risk factors are huge for those left behind after someone takes their own life, so we need to ensure they continue to have support.
We have to be able to push our own discomfort as much as it may be difficult to do that in order to continue to talk about suicide and mental health. In doing so, we should therefore also be able to encourage those who are struggling to at least attempt to open up.
It's not easy to help those who are struggling start talking. Sometimes, they may not have the words to describe how they're truly feeling or even what they're feeling. Sometimes, it may simply be a matter of you being present for that person in that moment so they know they aren't alone. They may not be able to say much, if anything, in those moments, but the simple knowledge that they have support when and if they need it can sometimes be enough to open the door for them to seek support.
We need to continue to remind people that it's okay to reach out for help when they need it. I realize that it's something that's been often said over the years, but it's so true. Without ongoing dialogue about suicide and mental health issues, these will continue to be topics that society avoids and people will continue to struggle on their own.
As we all know, it doesn't have to be that way.