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).
Hello Stigma Fighters! As spring quarter treads on let’s take a look back at all that Winter had in store for UCLA’s Active Minds chapter!
One highlight was last quarter was the “Me and Schizophrenia” event which gave our campus a chance to understand a condition that is often misconstrued in media. This event also gave some new members of our wonderful Education committee a chance to thrive and help organize this event.
Thanks to our workshops committee, Active Minds had the exciting opportunity to hold a Mental Health Networking Night in Ackerman. This event brought together students and professionals alike who have a passion for mental health and destigmatizing while raising awareness. One of the best parts of being a part of a chapter as great as UCLA’s is the opportunities to engage in such opportunities that open the door for a career in the cause we all hold so close to our hearts.
Also put on by our wonderful workshops committee was the Transfer Workshop: Stress Less, Connect More. Transfer students are often put under a unique kind of pressure and this workshop reminded us to reflect and connect not only within the transfer community, but on campus as a whole.
Premeds! If you found yourself at I am Pre-Med January 25th, you were likely graced with several panelists who gave us an interactive yet highly informative session on how pursuing medicine can be extremely rewarding but at a high cost- financially and personally. This event connected Active Minds to a large sector of students on campus who were not as familiar with our club, and created a dialogue on the intersection of highly demanding coursework in a school like UCLA, and one’s personal health and wellness. Thank you to Anusha Sadda for her tireless dedication to this event which gave so many students a chance to forge their “own path to medicine under the guidance of medical students.”
Another highlight from the quarter was our collaboration with our fellow SWC committees for our Eating Disorder Awareness Week during 8th week- a time in the quarter when it is very easy to not prioritize health and wellness. Monday kicked off on BruinWalk with fellow bruins coming out to share why they love their body. Wednesday saw the Body Acceptance Art Space where we were able to make therapeutic art and repurpose scales. On Thursday was My Distorted Reality- a poignant and valuable conversation on the effects an eating disorder has upon someone’s perception of themselves. This event gave us all a chance to reflect on the causes and effects that manifest into a distorted reality- and why it is so difficult to heal from this altered perception. By Friday, we were back in our spirits to pledge to love our bodies in the coming year, and for the rest of our lives!
All good things must come to an end, and this includes Winter Quarter. However it did not conclude without our events committee putting on the Stress Less Kit Fair Week 10! This fair gave us and students from all over campus a chance to pick up kits that had valuable tools and materials for entering the monstrosity that is week 10. These kits are a tradition within Active Minds, and we look forward to sharing these kits all year despite the finals that they coincide with- remember to prioritize your health even week 10!
All of Winter Quarter, and continuing into Spring, saw tireless dedication spearheaded by our Finance Director, Valerie Vessels, towards the success of our bracelet campaign. These award-winning iSupport bracelets are each handmade by an SWC Active Minds member and represent a different mental illness, represented by the nationally recognized awareness color. 100% of the proceeds contribute to Active Minds!
Every quarter brings new highs and lows and Winter was no exception. While it may be extra difficult to stay positive and energetic when the days are shorter and the work is getting harder, hopefully Active Minds has fostered a community where one can feel supported and appreciated even through the infamous Winter Quarter. Here’s to Spring!
Hello stigma fighters! All of us at Active Minds hope that you are having a wonderful Winter quarter, surviving midterms, and ready to bear the horror of finals. With that said, let’s have a look back on some of the highlights of Fall! This year began with a wonderful welcome at the Enormous Activities Fair where we met so many wonderful new members, all of whom were greeted by Sapphire- everyone’s favorite member. Week 1 also saw the release of the Mind your Mind coloring book, all the proceeds of which went towards mental advocacy.
Another highlight the next month of the quarter- Dave Romano’s visit! This famed mental health activist spoke about suicide, self-injury, depression, and mental health issues concerning men and athletes. Overall, we enjoyed a very enlightening discussion on the place and effect mental health holds in his life and what inspired him to make history and bike across America for mental health. And of course he had time to meet Santiago.
Also in November was our Dating and Depression panel. This panel gave students free reign to speak on the effect of depression in intimate relationships. As the first Speak Your Mind Panel of the year, this kicked off our commitment to allowing an open dialogue and multiple perspective on a topic so pertinent to the lives of college students.
And of course, let’s not forget the Active Minds Conference in Sacramento that some of our directors had to pleasure of road tripping to in order to meet several of the other chapters from around the country and hear many more speakers share their views on mental health as it relates to different facets of life such as socioeconomic standing, race, gender, and age. A truly wonderful weekend and bonding experience for all attendees. This weekend also saw Sapphire rocket to social media stardom on the national Active Minds Instagram.
Another major bonding experience went down at retreat in Hacienda Heights! Not only did the entire crew almost see Fergie while living it up in their hometown, everyone enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing weekend getting to know some other stigma fighters, mental health allies, and good friends. Also fought off Jaws nbd.
Fall was full of so many accomplishments and wonderful memories for Active Minds. Here is to many more in the New Year!