I am making a plea for suicide prevention.
Last week, someone I knew form high school killed herself. This is not someone I had been particularly close to or had even seen in the last 2 decades except for occasional Facebook posts. Still, I knew this person, and she was a friend of a friend.
According to a recent New York Times article titled U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High, “From 1999 to 2014, suicide rates in the United States rose among most age groups. Men and women from 45 to 64 had a sharp increase.”
This is my age bracket. This was the age bracket of the woman who killed herself.
So I am making a plea for suicide prevention.
If you know someone who is suicidal, please don’t tell that the person that his or her life is not so bad or that things will get better. These platitudes do not register to a brain that is engulfed by darkness.
Instead, ask the question, “How can I help you?” And mean to help. Make yourself available. Call this person. Go see this person. Encourage this person get out of the house and do something. You can be a resource for that person, a part of a safety plan.
Yet, while you can be resource, what you cannot be is a savior. The ability to survive, to make it through an incapacitating depressive episode, is something that only the individual who is suffering can do. Simply put, there is no external factor you can throw at the situation (even your best intentions) that is going to save someone else. That has to come from within. It is the individual alone who is ultimately responsible for weathering their personal storm.
If you are suicidal, know that many people, including myself, have these feelings and do get through it. Also know that you do not have to experience this profound and debilitating sadness alone. Reach out. Speak up. Talk to someone. Call a friend or a psychotherapist or a suicide crisis line. Call 1-800-273-TALK or text 741741. Allow someone who is trained to help do just that.
Find some coping strategies. You may not be able to consciously change your thinking but you can unconsciously change it through your actions. A number of practices — being in nature, practicing gratitude, building social relationships, meditation — have been shown by science to enhance subjective wellbeing. In other words, they actually can change how your thinking to a more positive mindset. So try to do one or more of these things every single day.
After the crisis ends, start building a mental health toolbox. Incorporate some positive rituals in your life that will enhance your emotional resilience. With this toolbox, if another crisis arises, you have strategies to help yourself already in place. You have tools to use and resources to draw on.
This is my plea for suicide prevention. Please don’t give up. Please hold on another day. Recovery from these dark feelings is possible. And I want you to recover.