Suicide prevention is up to us all

Suicide is pandemic. No gender, age, culture, or class is immune to it. And suicide has an aura of silence and taboo around it: it’s hard to talk about. It’s hard to actually say the words “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” to people we care about. We don’t want to say those words because that’s the worst reality we could face. But that’s how we prevent suicide: by listening, asking, and talking.

Silence isn’t the only problem. Our culture is hard on those who attempt or commit suicide. They are often called “crazy” or “selfish” or “immoral.” Judgments are quick and common: “I just don’t understand how she/he could....”  And just like that, understanding is shut down, the conversation doesn’t happen. Rarely are there discussions in our media or culture or with each other that talk about mental health and suicide in productive ways.  But that’s how we prevent suicide: by listening, thinking, and talking.

Too many myths about suicide have too much power. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) lists a number of misconceptions that are spread every day:

“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.”

Not True. Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

”Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.”

Not True. Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing. Extreme distress and emotional pain are always signs of mental illness but are not signs of psychosis.

”If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.”

Not True. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, and most waiver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to end their pain. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

”People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.”

Not True. Studies of adult suicide victims have shown that more then half had sought medical help within six month before their deaths and a majority had seen a medical professional within 1 month of their death.

”Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.”

Not True. You don’t give a suicidal person ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true — bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
— From SAVE:

It's essential to keep talking about suicide in ways that connect us to each other. Below are some resources, some for immediate help in crisis, and some for support, education, and awareness. 

Resources for crisis

If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are people who can help immediately.
Call anytime 24/7:
Re:solve Crisis Network   1-888-7 YOU CAN (1-888-796-8226)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273 TALK  (1-800-273-8255)
For deaf and hearing impaired, click here for options to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Resources for support and awareness

The Matt Arch Foundation, currently a subsidiary of Side Project Inc, is a philanthropic organization committed to raising awareness for the global pandemic that is suicide. Through fundraising, we will aid the cost of suicide education and thus diminish its unpredictability, and through activism, we will encourage a public discourse on the pandemic and thus increase its visibility and prevention. There is a concert benefit Friday, June 24, featuring ill Willis at the Smiling Moose restaurant in South Side to raise funds for this foundation.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)