National Suicide Prevention Week 2017
Content Warning: Suicide
Every forty seconds, someone takes their own life. That means, by the time you read this article about six people will have died by suicide. Throughout National Suicide Prevention Week we need to honor those who we have lost to suicide, and celebrate those who are still fighting today. It’s not an easy battle to win, but when you do, it is worth it. Within the last year suicide has been a topic thrown around more than in years past. Unfortunately it has hit a lot of people personally, or if it hasn’t we’ve heard about it. We’ve seen it on Thirteen Reasons Why, we’ve felt the world grieve after Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington took his life, or we felt the power of the truth coming from Logic’s performance at the VMAs. The word suicide is everywhere, and it is not understood, it is often tiptoed around, and stigmatized - forcing those who are struggling to stay struggling. This is a sad reality, but a reality that doesn’t need to be.
Thirty years ago, if someone in the family had cancer, it wasn’t discussed, if someone had AIDS it was ignored as if being sick was something to be ashamed of. Yesterday, if someone in a family took their own life it might have been brushed aside, ignored, or covered up as an “accident,” but today, if it happens, we HAVE to discuss it. The time to ignore it is over, because if a conversation can save a life, it is worth having.
Too many of today’s youth take killing yourself as a joke, if you look at the majority of people’s phones under the age of 23 there are probably numerous messages on there that say “kms” or “kys” (meaning killing myself or kill yourself). This is not okay. However, it has been used so frequently that most people don’t realize the words they are actually saying, it has become a random insult that could mean nothing to you, but everything to the recipient. What we need to realize is the power of our words and the silence of our friends. These statements have no place in a colloquial conversation because words can be so much more powerful than we think and we don’t know what battles our friends are fighting.
There is this myth surrounding suicide that if we talk about it, it will increase people’s suicidal thoughts and actions, however we know this isn’t true. If we discuss suicide and depression in the proper ways, educating one another and asking the right questions, studies show that suicides and suicide attempts will decrease. Even just two weeks ago, after Logic used his platform on the VMAs to discuss mental illness and suicide in such a powerful way, the suicide hotline had 50% more traffic than it usually does. Just by discussing the topic for 5 minutes on national television, he saved numerous people from taking their own life. That is amazing and this is what we need more of. People with power or people with any sort of following to make suicide and mental illness something of concern, because unfortunately it isn’t.
Moreover, as the Stigmafighters we are, we realize there is this selfishness stigma that surrounds suicide. However, starting the conversation after a suicide is mentioned even briefly in any class, discussion, television show, etc. can have the power to change someone else’s view on the situation. This in turn will spread to more and more people, allowing those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts to break through the wall that is holding them back from discussing what they are going through. While fighting stigmas it becomes clear that it’s not a one person task, however the power of changing one mind, will turn into changing the minds of many, and this waterfall effect is so much more powerful than we realize. Once again, the conversation is always worth having.
We’ve all faced dark times, during break-ups, after a loved one passes away, maybe even just one emotion filled night that left you crying in your room, these times come, but what we need to realize and remind each other is that these times pass. There are people who face so many more adversities than others, and this is in no way fair, as a society we need to be there for one another so no one person is struggling with no one to turn to. However, the bottom line is that pain is relative, that night you felt like your life was over can mean nothing in a matter of days, if we can all remember that, we can push suicide out of the way.
This week there are a few things we need to realize and always remember, First off, your life is worth living; we will all go through really hard times, times when we feel like there is nothing or no one left. But in reality these feelings aren’t the truth, there is someone who cares about you. We need to remember it is okay to reach out for help and talk to people, they will be so grateful you did when it saves your life. But if you can’t work yourself up to talk to someone close to you, there are hotlines, and there are coworkers, classmates, and even strangers that care. It is also incredibly important for us to realize from now on that suicide is real. It happens, and you do not want to wait until it happens to someone close to you to take it seriously. You never know what is going on in someone else's mind, the battles they’re fighting, or the voices they hear, their smile may only be a disguise. We need to stop ignoring it, look for signs, get trained, educate our youth, and take it seriously. I know it is hard to talk about, but it is worth it. Start the conversation and stop suicide.
If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, please call:
>>The National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-2855.
>> National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Spanish) '1-888-628-9454'
>> National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (for deaf and hard of hearing) '1-800-799-4889'
>> The Trevor Project Hotline '1-866-488-7386
- Get involved this week with National Suicide Prevention Week here: https://afsp.org/campaigns/national-suicide-prevention-week-2017/
- Get QPR Suicide Prevention training here: https://www.qprinstitute.com/individual-training
Author: Ciara Kelly is a sophomore student at the University of California, Los Angeles and marketing director of Active Minds (UCLA Chapter).