It’s not a pleasant subject to talk about. Maybe just reading the title of this post made you shift uncomfortably in your chair. Since you chose to still read this post, I want to bring up the topic of suicide. Why? Because it’s an extremely important one that doesn’t get talked about enough. Thankfully the reality of suicide seems to be receiving more attention in social circles recently. It seems like a good time to add my voice to the conversation.
The subject of suicide has been popping up repeatedly in my life. Besides having watched the new Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why, I myself spent the first few months of 2017 in a very dark place mentally. Although I couldn’t imagine actually carrying out the actions necessary to end my life, I didn’t want to exist anymore, and that was a horrible place to be. I have since come out of that season, but not without a heart drastically more sensitive to others who might be going through a similar dark, painful time.
Suicide has touched my life in other ways lately, too. Last month, I was woken one morning by the loud wail of sirens zooming down the street to a residence a few homes down from mine. I later found out the emergency personnel were responding to a suicide completed by an individual who apparently had battled depression for a number of years. Shortly after this, I attended a monthly training session for work that was, coincidentally, on the topic of suicide. Only a few days later did a friend confide in me about their own serious consideration of attempting suicide not long ago. All of these things combined weighed heavy on my heart, fanning the flames of zeal and compassion within me.
Maybe those who don’t have much personal experience with the subject of suicide might say only hormonal high schoolers deal with this issue. But it’s not just teens being bullied in the hallways at school who battle suicidal thoughts. Your life could be intersecting with any number of individuals contemplating suicide every day. Maybe it’s not your literal next door neighbor (as the title of this post suggests), but your sibling might be. Your parent, child, cousin, or other relative could be contemplating suicide. The kid you saw riding his bike around the neighborhood today could be. There is no gender, age range, personality type, socioeconomic status, or income level suicide ideation is limited to. Literally anyone can find himself or herself thinking about ending their life. And as the story of Thirteen Reasons Why demonstrated, it’s all of our responsibilities to make sure the issue of suicide is taken seriously.
If you suspect someone may be struggling, don’t ignore it. Talk to them. Ask how they’re doing. Don’t worry about knowing all the right things to say; all you need to do is be present and listen if they decide to open up. Believe and accept what they say, even if you can’t understand it or have never experienced what they’re dealing with yourself. Let them know you are there for them and accept them right where they’re at.
If a person is thinking about ending their life, whether or not they’ve come up with an actual plan to do it, please consider this: how dark and hopeless of a place would you have to be in to truly think about no longer wanting to live? That is the place of deep despair folks thinking about suicide live in. We may not have the ability to save everyone from attempting or completing suicide, but we do have the ability to empathize. We do have the ability to love. And I am personally determined to exhaust those abilities in the effort to show people that suicide doesn’t have to be the solution.
You matter too much to not be here. Please don’t give up yet.
If you or someone you know is facing thoughts of suicide, please utilize the resources below:
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline
Crisis Text Line
- Text “HOME” TO 741741
You Matter Suicide Prevention Lifeline – http://youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/issues/
Other sites that have helped me:
The Mighty – www.themighty.com
“Depression, the Secret We Share” TED Talk – https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share?language=en
“The Day After I Killed Myself” – https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-day-after-killed-myself