Every day around the world, families and friends grieve the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Not once. Not twice.
But over 2,000 times per day someone takes their own life.
Can you imagine? If Ebola took 2,000 people’s lives per day, we’d hear a world outcry and an immediate call to action.
But since it’s just suicide, we turn a blind eye. We go on with our merry lives, and pretend it couldn’t happen to us. It couldn’t possibly happen to someone we know.
That’s how we lose so many people a day. Denial. Ignorance. Stigma. Discrimination.
Each day in the United States, we lose another 100+ lives to suicide — about one American life is lost every 14 minutes.
Instead of having a focused, well-honed safety net in place to help these people in crisis and need, we rely on a patchwork quilt of crisis hotlines to act as the last line of defense — and hope — for the suicidal. As a society, we’ve turned a blind eye to the idea of suicide. “Oh, you need help? Call a crisis hotline, they’ll help.”
Suicide, however, is not “somebody else’s problem.” It’s yours, mine and everyone’s.
Most people who are feeling suicidal are depressed and feeling incredibly alone in the world. They don’t feel like anybody else understands how hopeless their situation or life seems. They also don’t feel like there’s anyone they can turn to in order to talk about the problems they face.
In one review of post-suicidal deaths, a surprising 23 percent of the people who died by suicide had an antidepressant medication in their system. That means that even those who are actively being treated for depression may still be suicidal. Their treatment may simply not be working well enough (or they may have a treatment-resistant depression).
It’s not enough to simply say, “Go get help.” We all need to be a part of that safety net that offers help to our friends, our family, and loved ones.
How do you do it?
You can do it by reaching out to people in your social circle you have some concern about. Maybe it’s someone who’s been isolating themselves. Maybe it’s someone else who’s been acting a little oddly, giving away prized possessions and things that they care about. Maybe it’s someone who’s largely stopped going out with their friends, who always seems unavailable to see you anymore.
You can start by talking to someone about suicide — this guide will help show you how.
Then, you need to follow-up with that person, and ensure they’re accessing the resources and treatment options available to them. Don’t drop the ball — your interest in their welfare may be the string of hope they cling to. I know it’s a big responsibility, but the result — a life saved — is also a big result.1
We can make a difference in the suicide rate in this country and in the world. But we all need to make an effort to help those closest to us. That effort begins with you — today.
- It is not your fault, however, if your intervention still doesn’t save their life — you tried. You can do your best, and someone can still choose the darkness over the light. But if you hadn’t tried, you’d be haunted by all of the questions of why you didn’t… [↩]