The darkness can come so quick and out of no where.
And that is why, today, I stand before you asking to be aware of the significance of today. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. There are over 42,000 Americans who die by suicide. That is an average of about 117 deaths per day. From 1999 to 2014 the rate of suicide has risen by 24%. And it continues to rise for every age group under 75. And for every suicide there are 25 attempted suicides. Tell me why, with the numbers as high as they are, as concerning as they are, tell me why we don’t talk about the issue?
I am tired of feeling that mental illness is an untouchable subject. I’m tired of people saying depression is in the head. That anxiety is controllable. That people who deal with mental illness chose suicide. Because they don’t.
If anyone was to ever tell me that as a teenager wanting to end my life was my choice I will tell you right now I didn’t want to die. Not then and not now. When I was suicidal I thought ending my life would be beneficial to everyone else and not me. It wasn’t my way of being selfish. It wasn’t my way of getting what I wanted. It was, in my troubled mind, my way of giving the ultimate sacrifice to the people I loved. If I left this world they could live. And if they lived and I died? All the pain we had stopped.
Don’t tell me I am foolish or I know not what I speak of.
I understand not understanding the value of my life. I understand not understanding that I was not alone. I understand not understanding there is help available. I understand not understanding it was a mental illness. Mostly I’m scared every day because I now understand it is a mental illness and how it affects my everyday life.
And it is time to take a stand. It is time to start the conversation. Don’t ask someone just to ask how they are doing. Look them in the eye and really care. People who are depressed, suicidal, or have any type of mental illness will not pull you on the side and tell you, “Hey, Joe, I have a mental illness.” No. They will try to live about their daily lives, giving clues but never coming out. Never asking for help. Never wanting people to know because we don’t feel worthy of your love and help. Even if they give you the biggest lie ever, “I’m fine,” at least you asked. At least you are telling them “I’m not giving up on you. I’m right here.” During the darkest times of my life I was fortunate to have people do that for me. Had they given up on me I’d be dead.
And for those who suffer mental illness, I love you. We love you. I know the world is dark. I still struggle every day to wake up, get out of bed and live. And it is possible. I choose to live every day because I know that I am not alone. That I am enough. That I am loved. Oh my darling friend, please know that you are not alone. You are enough. You are loved. You have options. And I know sometimes those options don’t seem ideal. Sometimes they seem scary. Please don’t give up on yourself. If you need someone to talk to I am right here. There are others too. Others who are willing to hold your hand or stand beside you to walk you through the darkness. You. Are. Enough.
Our stories aren’t over yet. xoxo
If someone shows the warning signs of suicide: Do not leave the person alone, remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.