I have been thinking a lot about how a person decides that there is no way out- of their pain, their loneliness, their apathy to life. This is in response to an uptick in teen suicides within my local area, which has led me to learn more about suicide prevention.
I realize that this is a trigger subject for some. I also know that I’ll probably get some of this wrong, but that’s okay. The only way to deal with a topic such as this is to bring it out of the darkness and into the light.
While I have never felt so desperate as to take my own life, I have a tremendous amount of empathy for those who feel it is their only choice. I have felt the heavy hands of depression weighing me down, but luckily never fell too deep.
Obviously, we all deal with stressors in our lives- stressful jobs, difficult relationships, trouble at school, ill family members, etc. “Normal” life itself can often seem like an uphill battle wading in quicksand, even without a crisis moment.
Unfortunately, once we took off the loincloth and started advancing in the world, our lives became more and more complicated. In the past, our sympathetic “fight or flight” response only kicked in when we were chased by the bear that wanted us for dinner.
Now, however, that response occurs when sitting in traffic or running late for an important meeting, as discussed here. Our lives have become full of so many worries, that we no longer know what is truly life-threatening or not. My hope is that this article will help at least one person with suicide prevention.
My concern for this subject first began after hearing about suicide in veterinary medicine. I listened to a very informative webinar on the subject by the VETgirl website here.
In the last few years, there have been some highly publicized suicides from prominent veterinarians. One of these veterinarians was a leader in animal behavior and handling and seemed to have everything going for her. Why would someone with so much to live for (at least on the outside) decide their only option is to take their own life?
As I mentioned in the beginning, we have recently had several teen suicides in my area. One of those students was in my daughter’s class, which deeply affected her. She couldn’t comprehend why someone who was in school one day was just gone the next day by their own hand. Even as an adult, I didn’t have a good answer for her. All I could do was talk with her and support her.
My hope is that we can all be a support for each other as we learn more about suicide prevention. When we are in the daily grind of work, kids, chores, we forget that there are others who feel the same way. When we see someone struggling, we can look them in the eyes and sincerely tell them, “I’m here for you if you want to talk.”
When I talk to other moms, most of them feel the same pressures of life. It’s reassuring to know that you are not alone and someone else understands. It’s a relief to hear “Oh yeah, I went through that last week.” It gives us hope that this too shall pass.
We all have the innate desire to want to belong to something, to a community. Hopefully by sharing and supporting as a community, no one will feel like they are so alone that they have nothing to live for.
QPR for suicide prevention
For those who are feeling they have no way out, please know that there is hope out there. There is always a solution and someone willing to help. There is no shame in asking for help The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1 800-273-TALK(8255) is an organization that can help.
Another option is to educate yourself about QPR. The QPR Institute teaches practical tools to prevent suicide by using the Question, Persuade, Refer technique. I went to a training at my church, which involved a slide show and role playing. By doing that, I feel so much more empowered and less helpless. I would highly recommend signing up for a training either locally or online.
The main thing I learned is that if you know someone who might have suicidal thoughts, DON’T wait for that person to get help on their own. Ask them if they’ve ever thought about ending their own life. If they say yes, then believe them. Many people who try to commit suicide will tell someone first and that should never be ignored.
Also, be aware that anyone can call 911 and request a welfare check on someone if you have their name and address. In addition, 2-1-1 is a free service that can provide programs to help with mental health.
Finally, please know that we can all be instrumental in suicide prevention and make a difference. Life is supposed to be shared with others and not a solitary activity. Everyone on this earth has value and is supposed to be here to fulfill their own inherent destiny, whatever that may be, whether they believe it or not.
“This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down. But a tiny voice whispers in my mind. You are lost, hope is gone, but you must go on and do the next right thing.”
-Anna from Frozen 2