It's been a tragic and traumatic week.
For me, it started last week when I was on my way to get the keys to my new apartment. ASI walked outside. I saw multiple ambulance trucks, police cars and fire trucks outside of my apartment. At first I did not think much of it because this happens at least once a week at the high rise condominium across the street. But, when I stepped outside and saw everyone staring straight up at the building, I knew this wasn't just an ordinary kitchen fire. So I looked up and saw a person on the ledge of their balcony. Immediately, I had this pit in my stomach. I froze on the sidewalk. I didn't know what to do because what could I do? Short of saying a prayer and heading on my way to pick up my new apartment keys, I couldn't stop thinking about the person. I hoped that the professionals up there were trained in mental health assistance and crisis intervention.
Professionally, I educate others in Mental Health First Aid (how to assist someone in a mental health crisis) and am a champion for better mental health care and access to health services so this is something that I am very familiar with talking about, but it's another situation to actually see it with your own eyes.
The entire train ride to and from my new place I hoped that the person was still there or had gotten to safety. About an hour and a half later, I was on my block again and looking up at the person on their balcony ledge. As I chatted with some neighbors I noticed people sticking around and gawking, waiting to see what would happen. For someone who is trying to end their life, I am sure this is not the time that they wanted an audience to convene below them. But, people are curious. I don't blame them but I wanted to tell all of them to go home. This isn't a movie and sadly we cannot do anything right now as pedestrians.
As a public health professional, my mind spun to the events that led up to these moments for the person and the signs they gave to those around them. We often hear people say "they were so happy" or "there were no signs." But, that is wrong. There are ALWAYS signs. We just need to educate ourselves on what those signs can be. In our Mental Health First Aid trainings we talk about a mental disorder or illness as a diagnosable illness that affect's a person's thinking, emotional state, and behavior and how this can look in the form of a disruption in the person's ability to work, carry out their daily activities and engage in satisfying relationships. As friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members and other acquaintances, this requires us to look beyond ourselves. To open our eyes, our ears and truly listen and observe other people. To be self-aware and aware of others.
In today's digital world, we are so preoccupied with our devices and figuring out what we are going to do next in our lives. Do we stop to say hi to the person handing us our coffee or the person at the receptionist desk? Do we ask people in our lives "how are you" or "is everything okay." And do we give the person the opportunity to genuinely answer these questions or just assume that they will say "great" or "fine."
I think we could all do a better job at being more present and supporting each other. I am NOT pointing the finger at anyone and no person is responsible for another person's life. But I am encouraging all of us to think about how we can support each other. How we can be kinder. How we can truly listen. How we can open the door to deeper and meaningful conversations. To be that person that listens and supports others.
Thankfully the wonderful police, paramedics and fire fighters were able to help this person and get them to safety. I wish them well and hope that they are able to seek treatment and continue a fulfilled and loving life.
I won't delve into the recent events of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, since I know news coverage is hot on these two and their families. But I encourage you to hug your loved ones a little closer. Listen to those around you and unplug. Let's be more present and enjoy today & tomorrow we can enjoy tomorrow when it comes.
And let's not crucify anyone for taking their lives by suicide. It is their choice and their life. But let's also not question them or their loved ones. Suicide is not a crime it is their choice and let's support them and give them the respect and love they deserve. Rest easy Kate & Anthony. You are loved and supported.
And now let's support and love ourselves. Self care and self love is a hot topic but it's one that should be. Take care of yourself in whatever way feels good for you. Do what make YOU happy and give YOU pleasure. And please reach out for support when you need it. I know it can be tough, but so is life. The Beatles said it first "I get by with a little help from my friends."
As we move forward, I hope that these recent events encourage us to be kinder, more thoughtful and supportive. I hope we can work towards a world where EVERYONE has access to mental health services without the financial burden, stigma or other barriers to accessing care. I dream of a world where we can all be happy, healthy, loved and safe. World peace is the ultimate goal. Peace, Love & Kindness ❤️Kat
- Mental Health First Aid ›
- National Institute of Mental Health ›
- Mental Health Conditions | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness ›
- Mental health: Definition, common disorders, and early signs ›
- What Is Mental Health? | MentalHealth.gov ›
- The Mental Wellness Routine That Will Change Your Life ... ›