National Suicide Prevention Week

Today’s Daily Deac is a heavy topic, but one that bears talking about because all too frequently it is *not* talked about.  And that is the topic of suicide.

This week is National Suicide Prevention week.  I admit I have a vested interest in this topic, because one of my very best Wake friends lost a spouse to suicide.  There are no words to describe that heartbreak.  I won’t even attempt it.

You are never the same after that type of loss, and sometimes the only good that can come of it is to try to help others if you can.  To know what resources are available for someone who needs help.  And the resources are many.  Here are some to be aware of:

The American Association of Suicidology has a website for National Suicide Prevention Week.

There is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where you can call 24/7 to get help if you are contemplating suicide OR you can call if you are concerned about someone else harming him or herself.

Our own excellent University Counseling Center has a Resources page that lists some of the same resources above, as well as a host of other ones.

Kevin Breel, a 20 year old stand up comic and mental health activist, wrote this commentary (picked up by the Huffington Post) about National Suicide Prevention Week, and I think it deserves a repost here.

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As some of you might know, the 8th to the 14th of September is National Suicide Prevention Week. Besides being a mouthful to properly say, it is seven days that hold a good amount of significance.

Sometimes, things we want to rally around (causes, common beliefs) get these sort of time sensitive marketing moments. A big event is happening to raise money for a charity or a certain month is dedicated towards raising awareness around a prominent issue.

But sometimes, a lot can gets lost in the labels and the marketing jargon being thrown around. There is so much stylized font and slick Facebook updates that we lose the substance. We get so caught up in the excitement that we lose sight of the stories that truly give an issue or a cause its significance.

The way I like to look at the 8th to the 14th is not as a moment of marketing. But rather, as an invitation to be honest. To be talk about these topics which we normally tend not to. To get open and get honest with a friend or a family member.

It’s an invitation to look inside of yourself and ask the very difficult question “Am I okay?”

I know for a long time I did not like that question.

It felt loaded and scary. I realize now that it wasn’t so much the question that’s loaded or scary; it’s the answer — the truthful answer — that feels loaded and scary.

We all can be great actors when we want to be.

“How are you doing?”

“Fine.”

“How are things?”

“Things are good.”

These are the sometimes knee jerk responses we feed out in to the world every day. And that’s okay sometimes. It’s a comfortable way to live life.

But over the next seven days, I invite you — I challenge you — to live uncomfortably.

To answer these questions that are tough to ask and to do it from place of honesty. If someone asks you how you’re doing, tell them. Don’t hide.

Don’t live in the muddy waters of “I’m doing okay.” It’s one of the most dangerous places I think we can ever be.

Sadly, the next seven days serve as a remembrance and a reminder of the lives we have tragically lost to suicide.

But, perhaps, it can also reminder that it doesn’t have to be that way. That we don’t have to keep perpetuating this problem and staying trapped in silence and shame. That as a culture and community, we can choose to change it.

And maybe it all starts with something as simple as being honest. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe it’s more than enough.

So this week, don’t cheat yourself. Don’t act. Don’t opt out of being honest for being comfortable. Get open. Look inside. Reflect.

Truly, that’s the only way we can make these next seven days mean something.

True change will never come through clever marketing, social media strategies or hashtags; but rather through our humanity. Through our ability to hold on to hope and cultivate community. Through love. Through accountability. Through being honest.

So this week, don’t worry about whether National Suicide Prevention Week gets trending on Twitter. It isn’t important. Focus instead on how you can live the next seven days with intent, purpose, clarity and honesty.

Because truly, I believe it’s the only thing we can do to turn this whole thing around.

Peace,

Kevin

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