“To anyone out there who’s hurting, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength.” ~ Barack Obama
Being September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I wanted to share my thoughts and some great insights that others have shared which are game-changers. Many of us have sadly lost someone to suicide and with the pressures around us in the world right now, honest conversations about this subject are more important than ever. With so many around the globe being isolated, depression has become very common in these uncertain times. Many coping with income loss, fear of the future, decrease in social activities, relationship problems, it’s a difficult time for many of us and takes a mental toll. Mental illness, depression, and anxiety are very complex problems that have no quick-fix solutions. Whether you or someone you know is struggling, know that there’s help, resources, and solutions. Remember how many around you truly love and care about you, ask for help or reach out to someone you know, everyone’s life is precious.
The most tragic part of suicide is that it can affect anyone. The statistics are quite horrific and no age, culture, gender, or community is not affected. While mental health conditions can be a factor, it can also be brought on by stress, life changes, addiction, and feeling that one’s problems are just too much. As I’m sure many of us have experienced, it can happen to someone we didn’t realize was unhappy or struggling. Especially in these times of social media content that breeds so many into posting only the positive aspects of their lives, it can lead to not understanding how even close friends are doing. We’ve turned into a culture of only digital communication, making it hard to know or understand the feelings of even close friends and family. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, it could save you or someone else’s life.
One very important concept we all can put into practice is to try to remember our thoughts and emotions aren’t always real. In actuality, thoughts are influenced by our moods, environment, lack of sleep, hunger, physical health, hormones, and many other factors we can’t always control. Our thoughts directly influence how we feel. It’s not invalidating feelings, but to gently work at not letting them take over our lives. Our thoughts do not exist outside of our awareness. They are like mental habits. What can make thoughts feel real is focusing our attention on them. Simple actions like thanking your mind, listening, and acknowledging what it’s trying to tell you can make youbfeel more in control. We hear so much talk about mindfulness, but it truly is a huge key. Find what works for you individually, whether it’s deep breathing, focusing on your faith, exercise, art, meditation, journaling, music, talking out your problems, but take control over your mind. We become what we repeatedly do and think, so show your brain whose boss. Remember thoughts are not permanent, and there are always coping solutions for any problem.
As with mental illness, our society must get over the stigma, which prevents so many from getting the help they need. Just as so many of us know we must work at taking care of our bodies, that same energy needs to go into our mental health. We need to be more comprehensive in our approach which means getting to the root issue of emotions, learning new coping skills, educating ourselves, and partnering with both mental and physical health care providers for assistance. There are simple steps we can all take to help someone struggling. Don’t shy away from asking, stepping in, be there to listen, help them connect to someone professional who can help, then continue to follow up. It’s worth the effort to take care of ourselves and each other.
This information is only meant to bring awareness from my personal journey, comes from a place of true concern, please reach out to a professional with questions if you or someone you know needs help.
Below are a few resources with helpful guidance and information:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline/24 Hour: (800)273-8255 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
American Foundation of Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org/
Suicide Prevention Resource Center: http://www.sprc.org/