Four years ago, if I had sat down to write a blog about the new year, it would have been full of silly notions of what I wanted to accomplish. That changed three years ago. My education in suicide began on December 30, 2012.
I was on the outskirts of the first suicide that impacted my life. It was happening to people I knew. People I loved. Friends. I didn’t know him. I knew what he meant to those that I cared about. I knew enough about him from those that loved him to know that he was kind and loving. A son. A grandson. A friend.
What I didn’t know on December 30th was that my experience with suicide was not over. I didn’t know that on the day I returned from the funeral of that kind boy I would be thrust from the outskirts to the center. The man who took his own life on the day I watched my friends bury their son was my friend. I knew him. I knew what he meant to those who loved and cared about him because I loved and cared for him.
Since that day, I have thought of suicide more than most of the population. I think about it more than someone who has never known someone who completed suicide. I think about it less than those who have lost a child, a husband, any family member to it.
I’ve learned from my experiences. And this is what I want to share as we begin another year. Or you begin even another day.
Those that suffer from depression and mental health issues are not weak. They have a disease that can be treated. If you have a “gut feeling” that someone you know may be struggling, speak up. Don’t be under the mistaken impression that they would never attempt suicide. Let them know that there is help available. Let them know that they matter. Don’t ignore what you are feeling. Don’t hesitate to feel like a fool suggesting to them that they need help.
I’ve learned that suicide is not about being selfish. It’s not about taking the easy way out. Suicidal depression is about trying to make the pain and the hurt go away. You want to end what you are feeling and you want to ease the lives of those around you because you think you are a burden.
Since the beginning of the new year, I have already learned of one suicide from a friend. It is January 6th. My only resolution for this year is to spread the word that suicide is preventable and it is my business. It is everyone’s business.