Suicide Prevention Can't Start And End With Suicide Prevention Week

Suicide Prevention Can't Start And End With Suicide Prevention Week

Your fight is just as relevant now as it was last week.

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One of the consistent mistakes I've made throughout my life is assuming I know how to help others with mental illness because I myself struggle with a depression disorder.

In reality, living with a disease is really only part of the battle when it comes to understanding it. For me, I've found that deeper education and conversation with professionals and others who struggle has led me to a more holistic, appropriate comprehension.

Even after all this education, I often find myself at a loss for words when trying to offer support and encouragement...but a week after Suicide Prevention Week, I want to at least try:

I know it sucks that awareness for the diseases you're fighting only comes up during "special" weeks or months out of the year. It sucks that when we personally share our struggles with others it, almost by default, feels like we are burdening people, bringing just "another thing" into someone else's (probably already) stressful and complex life.

This is a lie: not because it is 100% false, but because it will lead to death.

There is a piece of Scripture that I think will be helpful in my invitation to discuss our deeper temptations and struggles. If you are reading this and would not identify as a Christian, I want you to know that I love and value you and that I intend for this example to be (hopefully) empowering to you, as well.

There's a story at the very beginning of the Bible, where God has made a very good, life-flourishing world, and has appointed these cool creatures called humans to partner with Him in continuing spread this state of life flourishing "very goodness" to the entire world.

God gives them this power as His partners, but He warns them to trust in His wisdom and definition of good and bad. By trusting in Him, the humans can help cultivate the same "very-goodness", because it's on God's terms, whereas if the humans choose to redefine good and evil to what they want, God warns them that by doing so they "will surely die" (Genesis 2:17, NIV).

But while humanity is alone together (represented by two characters that portray two biological "halves" of humanity), it becomes tempted by this slippery serpent, a character that does nothing but tempts and accuses in order for humanity to make the wrong choice. The serpent continues to talk to the woman, who makes the wrong choice of not trusting God, symbolized by defining fruit God told them not to eat as "good," before the man, "who was with her," also took and ate some (Genesis 3:6, NIV).

My point is this: what if the man and woman opened up to and consulted with each other because choosing whether to make the wrong choice, a choice that meant that they would "surely die"? I know, it's silly to play hypothetical with an ancient, Jewish oral narrative, but in reality, we live out this situation every day.

Every day, we face those same thoughts: thoughts of accusation and temptation.

It's the voice that tells us not to share our struggles, it's the voice that belittles us and makes us think that we are weak for fighting mental illnesses, it's the voice that tempts us with the dangerous idea of suicide.

As a follower of Jesus, I know that calling out, naming, and vocalizing struggle with this "voice" of temptation is a true step in the right direction, a direction that, instead of surely dying, offers me true life. A Jesus follower, often referred to as the Apostle Paul, wrote to a letter to a church, and in it, he pleaded with the community to "carry each other's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2, NIV).

Inviting others into your area of temptation and hurt, to expose the voice that accuses you and belittles you, that is exactly what God defines as "good," and fulfills keeping in step with how He created us to live: sharing our struggles in a community.

If you feel that sharing your struggles with mental illness will be met with people laughing at you or seeing less of you: they are not living as humans are supposed to live, they are ignoring true good and evil, and are themselves buying into the temptations in their head to accuse and hurt others.

I beg of you not to listen to these people's words, or give their accusations and attitudes any weight. Instead, seek and open up to those willing to listen. It may take a few tries to find those people, but I promise you it is worth it.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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If You Want To Die Tonight, Please Read This

I want you to live. More importantly, I want you to want to live.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Drowning.

Drowning.

Drowning.

Drowning.

The thoughts are deafening, screaming at you that the world would be better off without you and that no one would care if you were gone.

So, you find yourself on the Internet, searching for ways to die in a relatively painless way that will leave the least amount of mess for others. You find yourself thinking about the bridge a half mile from your house or the assortment of pills lining the walls of your medicine cabinet. You remember that your roommates will not be home from class for a few hours; that you are totally alone.

And then, in your Internet search for ways to finally escape the pain, you happen upon this article.

Yes, this one right here.

This one telling you to stay.

And, well, you find yourself still reading along because a piece of you, even if it is the smallest piece of your existence, wants a reason to live.

* * *

I am not sure what is causing you pain, and maybe you honestly are not sure either. All you know is that you have this pain — this never-ending pain — and it's become enough.

Society tells us that we need to tattoo a smile onto our faces and pretend that everything is OK even when we are aching on the inside. If you take one thing away from this article, I want you to remember this — it is OK not to be OK. It is OK if you are not OK today or tomorrow or next week or a year from now. However, one day, it will be a little better and there will be a little bit of sunshine peeking out through the clouds.

I want you to live. More importantly, I want you to want to live.

And, sometimes, wanting to live is about just noticing the little things that make you happy and remembering them.

Like the way the sun looks glistening off of the lake by your house at 5:47 p.m. on a Thursday evening.

Or the way the scent of your coffee creeps up your nostrils while it cools to a drinkable temperature.

Or the fact that a new episode of your family's favorite show is coming on this Thursday.

Or the way your Lush bath bomb colors your water into beautiful shades of blue and green and yellow and pink.

Or the dinner your Mom cooked for tonight to share with you, your Dad, and your sister.

* * *

Life may not turn out how you plan, but perhaps that is not a bad thing.

God has a plan for you.

Why the plan involves you feeling this way, I do not know, but I do know that God did not bring you into this world to suffer.

You deserve help.

You deserve love.

You deserve to be supported.

Even if you feel alone, I promise you are never alone.

You can text "Hello" to 741-741 at any hour of the day and someone will be there to support you.

* * *

So, tonight while you want to die, please just think about the last time you smiled so hard that your face physically hurt or laughed until you almost peed. Just think about a time that you felt something besides what you are feeling now and hold onto it.

Hold onto it, lie down, and go to sleep.

And wake up tomorrow knowing that you are a survivor.

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