In case you didn’t know, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. After the year I’ve had and experiencing those suicidal thoughts myself, it gives September and what this month represents a whole new meaning to me.
I’m not going to get into the details of my story (you can read about that here), but saying this year has been rough for me, is one of the biggest understatements I could make. I’ve been there though: high anxiety, extremely depressed, feeling like a failure. I felt like the biggest burden in the world, and I honestly believed my family and friends would be so much happier, freer and better off without me. Through therapy and a lot of hard work, I’ve come to realize that isn’t the case.
This isn’t about me as an individual. This is about every single person who has experienced these thoughts and feelings in their life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss.” That’s a lot of people who tried to fight their inner demons but unfortunately felt they couldn’t fight anymore. That’s a lot of friends and family who are left to wonder why, to blame themselves, for their loved ones taking their own life. This is preventable.
This month is a time when people need to share and utilize the resources around them. It’s a time to open the doors and start talking about such a stigmatized topic with no judgement, ridicule or shame. This country as a whole really needs to stop shaming people for feeling anxious, depressed, suicidal, lonely, hopeless, or burdensome, and that start helping, supporting and talking with individuals who feel that way. Be the reason someone looks at you and goes, “You’re one of the reasons why I’m alive. Thank you.” That’s a powerful statement.
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. Tell someone you love them, tell someone you’re proud of them, tell someone something you admire about them. If you hear or see something that is concerning contact that person immediately. Talk to them. Listen to them without judgement or pity. Be there for someone. Stay on the phone with them, drive them to therapy, take them to the hospital. It’s time to stop the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide. You never know how the smallest act of kindness can truly help someone in a rough place.
For more information check out NAMI’s website. You can also take the pledge to help stop the stigma. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.