September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Here’s My Story
Suicide is one of those topics that carries with it a lot of stigma and I believe that it's that stigma that makes it so difficult for people struggling to actually reach out for help. I believe one of the ways that we end that stigma is by sharing our own personal stories and struggles. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and if you'll let me I'd like to share some of my story with you. According to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline,
Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
Individuals are more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful by after speaking to someone who listens without judgment.
Suicide is a subject that can be hard to talk about. Personally, I share that part of my life for two reasons. One of the reasons is the hope that maybe I can help even just one person to not feel alone in their time of despair to know that they are not alone. The other reason is that it helps me to remember that I survived the part of my life that I thought was so unbearable and so painful that I felt the only way I could handle it was if I just didn't, yet here I am.
We hear about celebrity suicides because it is deemed 'newsworthy' but we don't hear about the countless suicides across the country every single day unless it is someone we know personally or casually within our small circles. I wrote about my personal struggles with depression and suicide after the passing of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. On December 7, 2017, I shared about the night that would later change my life,
The night of December 7, 2012, after the merriment and revelry of a night spent drinking with friends in celebration of my upcoming 34th birthday, I was drunk and alone and those feelings of loneliness took over. Those same old feelings - that I wasn't good enough, that I was a burden to the people who did care about me, that the only thing I was good at was hurting people and that this world would be better off without me. Those feelings crept in and I believed them. And it hurt. My god it hurt! In that moment of desperation, I was in so much emotional pain, I felt like I was being ripped apart from the inside out. If you've never felt this way, count your blessings, but if you have - you know the exact feeling that I am talking about - and in that moment, all you want it to do it stop.
If you'd like to read more about my personal experience with mental health, addiction, and suicide, you can read the full story here. Obviously, I was unsuccessful as I'm sitting here typing this out for you now, nearly a decade later but I still remember exactly the way that I felt in those moments and I know now that I am not alone. Maybe you too know exactly what it feels like or maybe your best friend, cousin, son, daughter, mother, brother knows. Until we end the stigma surrounding mental health and make it safe to talk about it and to ask for help, many of those people will suffer in silence... sometimes until it's too late. But they don't have too and neither do you.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can reach someone by calling anytime at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you would prefer, you can chat with someone via message through the Suicide Prevention Lifeline too. Another available resource is the National Alliance of Mental Illness Crisis Text Line. Just text NAMI to 741-741 where it is free to be connected with a trained crisis counselor to text with.
If you're still reading, and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, even if the tunnel seems dark and endless, it does get better and you are not alone.
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