Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. For every actual death due to suicide, there are 15-20 reported suicide attempts. There is no way of knowing how many unreported attempts there are.
We do know that suicide and self harm are on the rise. The pandemic has increased these numbers, especially in younger people. I won’t bombard you with the staggering statistics. You can Google them.
You can also google ‘How can I help to prevent suicide’. There are tons of articles that will explain the signs, all the things you can look for that might indicate someone you know is suicidal: isolation, depression, hopelessness, addiction, erratic behavior…
Those articles will all tell you to reach out, to offer assistance. Those articles also seem to put the onus on the bystanders and survivors. If you have ever experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide, you know that those helpful words of advice can make us feel bad that we didn’t see it coming, that we didn’t know and didn’t act. They can make us feel somehow responsible for the person’s death.
Ultimately, we are only responsible for our own selves, our own decisions, and our own actions. You are only responsible for you.
So, if you have feelings of hopelessness, if you feel that you are stuck in a bad place and things will never change, if you feel like you are a burden, and the people you care about would be better off without you, if your anxiety is unmanageable, if you are in so much pain that you can’t get any relief, if you are thinking you no longer want to be here, tell someone. Tell a friend, a family member, a professional, a stranger on a park bench, make a TikTok video. Share the thoughts. Share the feelings. Even if they’re fleeting… speak them out loud, and let someone know. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, allow yourself to connect with someone, and allow yourself to be seen.
Loneliness, a lack of deep, meaningful connections, and a lack of truly being seen, can fuel addictions and cause serious mental health issues. So my advice on this day is to make deeper connections, whenever you do connect.
When you ask your loved ones how they are, ask them how they really are. If someone seems a bit depressed, ask them if they still feel hopeful for the future. Ask them if they think they might need a doctor, or medication. Perhaps even ask them outright if they’ve had thoughts of harming themselves. But know, that you can ask all of the right questions, and do all of the right things, and the person might still make the decision to end their life. Because they are their own responsibility.
Sometimes there may be no prevention possible, but connection is the best chance at prevention. Continue to make the deepest most meaningful connections you can, so that there may also be no regrets.