Recently there has been an influx of posts on social media regarding suicide prevention. I have posted on my Facebook wall a couple of these posts. My heart would not be satisfied, however. One person had commented that today, November 19th, is National Suicide Prevention Day. However, after a little research, I have found this to be inaccurate. National and World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th.
Every month, nay, every day should be suicide prevention awareness. I believe this flooding of posts for suicide prevention is coming at a time when it is really needed. November and December, in general, have the highest number of suicides and the statistical numbers do not include supposed one person accidents which could possibly be an act of suicide as well. The age group with the highest rate is the elderly, even though popular belief is adolescent. As we age, we watch all those around us moving on with their lives while significant others and close friends pass on as well. Loneliness is the number one cause of suicide.
Many years ago, I was an adolescent counselor. I recall one night I was preparing for a teen meeting at my church where I generally had eight to ten teens attend. As they filtered in, all but perhaps one or two went to the same high school, the kids seemed sad and a bit depressed. I learned that another student, whom most them them knew, had committed suicide the night before. I threw away my plans for the evening and we just curled up on the floor and talked. The main question they asked was, “Could I have prevented this”. I already knew that one of the kids in attendance had contemplated suicide before and a couple of us talked her down. This hit home in a very meaningful way.
Years after this, and not so long ago, I too, had my own time for contemplation. Yes, as an abused adolescent, I did try to kill myself once. That was nothing compared to what I have dubbed ‘The Great Depression’. Following a knee injury, I was in chronic pain and very depressed. Yes, I contemplated killing myself as the many years of abuse I endured as a child and adolescent came flooding back into my head and my current situation compounded things. I however, had friends who would not yield.
In my more recent history, I have again contemplated ending my life. Not due to depression. I have a chronic illness and it is a beast with no known cause and no known cure. I have often wanted to end his attacks on me, by ending my life. While I do have some great friends in my life this time as well, I cannot say that it was they who brought me through. Not entirely. Loneliness played a bit role in my decision to die, but it was wanting to stop the suffering. Many with chronic illnesses feel this way. It dose not indicate they are depressed. They could be, but it is not necessary. Sometimes you just want the physical suffering to end. I finally found a way through myself and coming to terms with me, and with helping hands from friends, to get through it. I still have my moments, but I am in better shape now, than ever I was before, in my entire life.
Several years ago a person I knew in the virtual reality world of Second Life™ committed suicide in the real world. We were all saddened and a mutual friend began a campaign in Second Life™ called 1 Is Too Many. I wrote a poem with this same title as I had experience in the area:
1 Is too Many
Be not so closed-minded
to judge a book by its cover.
For ‘neath the covers may lurk
the tenderness of a lover.
Betwixt the vacuity of words
read the expanse to discover;
the truest of friends, the heart,
the very soul of a brother.
Loneliness, it has been sought,
and in studies they did find;
claims more precious, innocent lives
than when all the cancers be aligned.
Times of isolation and undo forlorn
evolves to leave the spirit maligned.
For all that it is worthy to know
one is always too many for mankind.
April 3, 2013
© DL Bach
Many people, it seems, won’t post things about suicide prevention. Perhaps they believe people will think that they are suicidal. I don’t know. But let’s clear a few things up. If you know someone you believe is suicidal, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it and confront them. Read the information at your fingertips to know the warning signs, they are not necessarily what you think they are. Sometimes, especially with regard to adolescents, this is their cry for help and they want someone to talk to them about it. If you are unsure of how to approach this, you can call the Suicide Hotline and ask them. They will tell you the best approach. Following that link takes you to the Google search. There you will also find a way to chat online.
Today, November 19, 2016, is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. One is always too many to lose to suicide. Personally, I have only known one person, in the real world, who committed suicide and he did so because relatives thwarted his plan to murder my cousin, their two daughters and then kill himself.
You do not need a PhD nor an MD to help someone you care about. To answer the question my group had been asking that night many years ago, “Could I have prevented this”, perhaps. We discussed the weeks preceding the suicide and why it is important for us to be careful the things we say to people. We may think we know them, but we really do not know what is going on inside of them and in their minds. Speaking kindness is a good start to prevent suicide. If you know someone you believe may be suicidal, the best thing you can do is just be their friend. Listen, don’t judge. Don’t try to talk them out of it. Just be their friend. If things escalate, seek further assistance from the suicide prevention links I have provided, from your priest, minister, rabbi, or other spiritual leader.
Be aware. Be prepared. Be a friend.