September is Suicide Prevention Month.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

September 10th will also be another birthday passing that a family member of mine will not be celebrating, due to death by suicide.

I wrote an article in April titled Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide. It was not an informational article, but rather to bring awareness to a very heavy topic. Some did not agree with the format or content, however, it got 70,000+ people talking about the issue surrounding self-inflicted death. That was the point.

Some people do not even know suicide is such a big epidemic around the world. So let me give just a few facts from Dosomething.org:

• Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year.

• In the U.S., suicide rates are highest during the spring.

• Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds and 2nd for 24 to 35-year-olds.

• On average, 1 person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes.

People can easily assume suicide is a selfish act. I don't know about you, but I hear the statement all the time. It's hard to understand the mental state depressed and suicidal people can get to. I'm not here to analyze the reasons behind each every person considering taking their life. But I am here to tell you it is not a selfish act. It is not to gain attention.

According to Dosomething.org, "About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide." Individuals considering suicide are not thinking these thoughts to gain your sympathy. They feel that the pain they're feeling is unable to be resolved. Depression is a silent killer.

Since receiving a lot of feedback from my original article I've realized something very important: people need help. And not just the awkward 'emo' kids you don't want to sit next to in class. Not just the person who is quiet and lacks an inviting face. Not just the ones that come across angry, upset with the world, and might not be fun to be around. EVERYONE. I had multiple people reach out to me, some I know and some were strangers across the country I still keep in contact with now.

Not to disregard the dozens of comments with similar responses, but along with those came the negativity. Some were saying I discredited those struggling by using the word 'commit'. And while I understand the stigma surrounding the use of the word regarding a crime, it also has more than one definition. You can look up the word yourself, but a few synonyms include: accomplish, do, carry out.

At the end of the day, we can all have our opinions about anything; however, I think we can agree on the fact that depression and suicide have become an epidemic that can absolutely be prevented. You never know who is struggling with something. Be kind. Be a friend.

A few behaviors to look out for, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention , are:

  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Aggression
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Speaking of the following:
    • Being a burden to others
    • Feeling trapped
    • Experiencing unbearable pain

I can't help but think that there could have been something we all could have done. That is probably the biggest question people left behind ask themselves. Each suicide intimately affects at least six other people. I know each and every person we lose to suicide affects way more than that three letter word.

Here are a few ways to become more aware of suicide and get involved with prevention:

More Than Sad, a series of films and videos put together by the AFSP to educate students, parents, and educators about preventing suicide and mental health.

OUT OF THE DARKNESS Community Walks.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a list of contact information by state to find out what you can do to help in your area, here.

There is always help that can be reached. If someone mentions suicide, do not take it lightly. Law enforcement is trained to deal with suicide attempts so never be scared to call 911 and ask them for help, whether it’s for yourself or someone you believe to be endangering themselves. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 to help at 1-800-273-8255.

Effective prevention starts with you and me, all of us as a community.