Over the summer a girl I went high school with posted a picture of a boy in my brother’s grade. The picture was simple, the boy’s Pooh Bear backpack and his unruly hair sticking straight up are the most defining parts of the photo. My heart stopped for a moment while I scrolled through the comments and saw that this funny boy had passed away. I later learned that he died from self-inflicted wounds, and for the first time suicide was something that impacted me. Suicide used to be as abstract as eating disorders until I knew people who thought that way, had committed the act or at the very least attempted to.
They tell you throughout high school that eventually you’ll know someone who is suicidal, depressed, anxious, or diagnosed with any other type of mental health issue, and I was naive to think I may not. It wasn’t a fun topic, not something you bring up lightly in conversation, and yet I found that it was something that has to be talked about. September is Suicide Prevention Month, a chance to open that conversation and talk about the tenth leading cause of death for all ages.
They go over it in schools, more athletes are talking about mental health and how one can look so happy and not be. The boy I spoke of earlier would do anything to make someone laugh, he did it every day at cross country practice and at every meet we went to. There are so many signs that people miss along the way because they are sporadic, and mental health is different for everyone who experiences it. The typical signs of suicide include a drastic change in behavior such as increased alcohol use, acting recklessly, isolating from family and friends or sleeping too much or too little. Those suffering with mental illness may talk about being a burden to people, feeling trapped or having no reason to live. It is easy to write down and it is easy to pretend like everyone would speak up if their friend was expressing these behaviors, but nothing is ever that simple. Suicide has never been a hot topic and many people give into the mental health stigma that one is weak for not having control over these thoughts.
Suicide Prevention Month was created to help facilitate a conversation that few people ever get to have without feeling judged. 42,773 Americans die by suicide every year according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, If that isn’t enough to start a conversation then think about this. Hardly anyone knows what is going on in your head at any given moment and if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts never hesitate to reach out to someone. There are plenty of resources out there that aim to help those in need and those who want to talk to someone. They have options for people who don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone.
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide please call one of the numbers below. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue never be afraid to speak up. If you speak up, others will feel comfortable telling their story and we will remove the stigma from mental health.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
Crisis Text Line: text "Go" to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-TALK