It's not often that I post about serious topics, but there are things that deserve recognition.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Now, I'm not one of those people who's going to say "Change your profile picture to a picture of your first pet ever in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week," cause let's be honest. That doesn't do anything. People see pets and think about dogs, not about saving lives.
And saving lives is what this week is all about. I'm also not going around shouting it from the rooftops or silently protesting. That doesn't help in this case either. This is a relationship-based effort. We can't just set out to prevent it with our guns blazing and duct tape across our mouths.
You may be thinking, "Why is she talking like she knows everything about suicide? She's a nut job."
Yes, I may be a nut job, but I know a lot about suicide and what leads a person to it. See, it's people like you, normal, everyday people, that have prevented my own suicide. (I told you this was a serious post.) As some of you may know, I have clinical depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed at age 12, and I'm 21. Do the math: I'm in my 10th year of dealing with it. I'mt not looking for pity. Just stating the facts. And I would be a liar to say that suicide is not a major issue for me. I don't face it everyday, but I'd say that I face the thought of it about once a week. That's a whole lot. And I am someone who knows how to handle her symptoms and takes medicine for it.
Think about your friends. Maybe your best friend seems to drag more lately. Maybe your brother has been keeping to himself a lot. Maybe the girl who sits next to you in class has strange marks on her wrists. Maybe you have had someone specifically mention suicide to you, and you thought they weren't serious.
It is always serious. Always.
I can't tell you the number of times that I have "jokingly" mentioned suicide to a friend. A depressed person sees it as normal...but it's not. They are reaching out for help by mentioning it. Don't let those comments pass you by. Mention it to them. Talk to someone like the dean of students or their mentor. Don't be afraid to "tattle." This is about life and death.
You are probably wondering what would lead someone to suicide. There isn't just one answer to that, but I can only answer for myself. When it comes down to it, suicide sometimes seems like the only way out. It seems logical and normal. It seems easy and freeing. In my right mind, I would never think that, but depression attacks my brain, mood, and emotions like a cancer, changing things and trying to kill. Literally.
Suicide takes many many lives. Something like thirty thousand Americans commit suicide every year. But that fact isn't even the hardest. Listen to this: Suicide is the third leading cause of death in fifteen to twenty-four year olds. This is supposed to be the best years of their lives, and they are dying of their own will.
Friends, we have to stop this. We have to love others more. We have to look people in the eye and find out how they are really doing. Suicide is not limited to secular culture. Suicide happens within the church, within Christian circles. Stop placing a stigma on people with depression and other chemical issues. Don't shame those who are constantly sad, but instead join with them in the battle. Show them why life is worth living.
To those of you who have stood by my side through the hard days and wiped my tears in the long nights, thank you. You have had a part in saving a life, whether you know it or not. The Lord has been good to me through you. Thank you for revealing many reasons that life is worth living to me. May you be blessed beyond measure for your love.