Yesterday (September 10) was World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. For every one suicide, 25 more people attempt it and fail – and by fail we mean they live. We need to work together to get these numbers down.
Suicidal depression is not a pretty designer problem – it is real and it is devastating. Only by facing the issue can we hope to grasp the depth of the problem and begin the process needed to address it. We need to stop thinking “That couldn’t happen to me…”
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) September 10, 2016
We need to spread awareness of this epidemic – and yes, it has reached epidemic status. Talking about the problem is a start. There are myths around this issue as well. One big one is the myth that mentioning the word suicide will make someone suicidal. This is just not true. If you want to save someone, ask them directly if they are planning to take their own life.
As a survivor, I can attest to this. Someone close to me committed suicide and someone else close to me attempted it. Talking about it can help prevent more losses. We need to talk about our feelings. Not everyone that commits or attempts suicide has a mental illness, but we are at risk for it. As someone with a mental illness, I have to curb the intrusive thoughts and fight bad ones that emerge on a daily basis. Sometimes you just can’t turn it off; it is like an unwanted white noise in your mind.
By listening to the stories of people, we can grasp a better understanding of the problem and have a better base from which to start working on solutions.
“The thing about the mentally ill is [that] I had never been familiar with that community until I was diagnosed and went into the hospital and realized that this is an incredibly vulnerable community that is so silent and is not some tiny minority of people. You’re talking 25% of the population in a given year. 50% of people in their lifetime will have a mental illness. It’s not some tiny minority of people, but they’re so fucking quiet about it, and that was the thing that really pissed me off when I went into the hospital and realized that.”
“My first suicide attempt — I guess that was in 2005, so I was 24. I attempted suicide again in 2008 which, at that time, was awkward because I was working at a hospital in the ICU, and that was the same ICU where I was treated… The one thing I don’t want to tell anyone I love is that I will never do it again, because I don’t know if I will never do it again. I can’t tell the future. I don’t know if it’s going to get worse, if the medications are going to stop working, if my circumstances will change where I can’t afford medication and therapy.”
Here is a Ted Talk about this issue: