September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide isn’t something that happens overnight. Nine times out of ten, the thoughts have been festering for a long time, and they were longing for a sign that they are needed on this earth. Be the sign.
RELATED READING :: Suicide Prevention Month
The most memorable moment of my entire life started like a typical night in my childhood. It was the weekend, and I went to a cousin’s for a sleepover. We grew up in a very small town, and most of my family lived on the same road. We were sitting in her room giggling and probably plotting something that would get us in trouble later, and then her mom called us downstairs. I was shocked to find my mom at the door at the bottom of the stairs. Tears began to pool in my eyes because I thought I was spending the night. Why was my fun being cut short?
“Get your coat; we have to go home.”
Something about the look on the grownup’s faces told me not to object.
When I got home, I knew something was wrong. No one told me what, and after a while, it hit me.
“Where is my daddy?”
I asked around, and no one told me at first, but by the next day, I knew he was gone. No one could look at me without crying. I remember walking around with such a sinking feeling. I was 100% a daddy’s girl, and the thought of not getting one more hug or adventurous moment with him broke my heart. It wasn’t until after his funeral that I heard some whispers and learned that he had taken his own life. While everyone gathered at our house afterward, I snuck away. I found my mom in her room, laid on the bed beside her, and cried together.
To this day, anytime I’ve ever heard anyone refer to my dad, they say things like “He was such a cool dude,” “We always had such a good time,” or “I will never forget his contagious laugh.”
While I’m sure things were going on in his life that I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak as if they saw any signs that he’d one day take his own life. The month of September has been set aside for suicide awareness, and it’s a subject that will forever be close to my heart. According to the CDC, in 2020, it was the 12th leading cause of death for all ages. Wow, all ages! Worldwide an estimated 703,000 people a year take their life.
I say all that to say; that sometimes, you never know what silent battles your loved ones are fighting.
Let’s keep a few things in mind –
- Be a safe space for your loved ones – don’t make them feel like their struggles make them weak, or therapy means something is wrong with them. Listen without judgment.
- Check on the strong friend/family member – Sometimes, the one that’s always a support system or always the life of the party or the always seems calm is the one that needs someone to lean on. They are the last to acknowledge when something is wrong because they feel the most pressure to have it all together.
- Take it seriously when you see signs like – loss of appetite, abnormal mood swings, “goodbye” speech, excessive risk-taking, or increased drug or alcohol abuse.
Other signs include:
- Changes in sleeping pattern
- Talking more about death or suicide
- Personality changes
Always remember, life gets really, really hard, and what we have the capacity for others may not. Show compassion and empathy as often as you can. Make sure the people in your life know that they are loved. These things may not be a magic fix, but sometimes all a person needs is a hug or a phone call to say, “You’re on my mind, and I wanted to check on you.”
Suicide isn’t something that happens overnight. Nine times out of ten, the thoughts have been festering for a long time, and they were longing for a sign that they are needed on this earth. Be the sign.