According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, each year, over 44,000 people die from suicide. It’s said that the number is even higher and is often underreported due to stigma and that some deaths that are ruled as “accidental” could have actually been a suicide. May is mental health month. We have made great strides in mental health treatment options, support, discussions, etc, however we still have a long way to go. Unfortunately, we see still see that there is often a stigma attached to mental health. Our society places a lot of emphasis on our physical health, for obvious reasons, but we need to keep in mind that we don’t have overall health without our mental health. The topic of suicide has been talked about in the news more recently partly due to the popular Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, as well as the death of musician, Chris Cornell. This show has been discussed at schools and has brought up some controversy. I have long been a fan of Cornell’s music. If there is any silver lining here, it could be that his death has opened more discussions regarding mental health, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. As a society, we have often felt that talking about suicide causes someone to be more likely to commit suicide. The research shows different. Talking to someone about your suicidal thoughts and reaching out to others for support can save lives. I have worked on a suicide hotline and have personally seen the positive impact it can have on a community. Someone can seem to “have it all together” on the outside and may be crawling in their skin on the inside. I feel it’s always better to err on the side of caution in these situations. If you are concerned about a friend, family member, or classmate, it’s okay to ask someone how they are doing. When we are struggling with our emotional health, our mood can be all over the place. This can be confusing and exhausting. Bipolar disorder, along with other emotional struggles, can look like different things to different people. What we may assume looks like “happy” or “alive and full of energy” may not be what’s really going on inside. Sometimes it’s obvious that someone may be feeling depressed. They might be tearful, isolating, not returning calls or texts, etc. On the other hand, people who are are experiencing depression can also be experts at masking their symptoms. What we often assume is a person who we think “have no reason to be depressed”, could really be struggling. Smart phones and social media has opened a lot of doors in our society. We now have more options to reach out these days if we are struggling with an emotional issue. Often we see that something positive can also have a negative side. Bullying in schools has been happening for decades. The end of a school day might be a relief for some students being able to return home. With the almost constant access a lot of young people have to social media, the bullying or negativity could still be just a click away. Once again, our “communication” as a society becoming more and more instant can certainly be a positive. Suicide hotlines have been around for many years, and now with our evolving technology, we have many outlets available to reach out. There are now countless websites, chat rooms, blogs, etc, that are geared towards behavioral health. Let’s use this to our advantage. Let’s talk more about how we are doing emotionally, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Find someone you feel that you can trust and please remember that it’s okay to ask each other how we are doing. Most all of us may say, “hows it going?”, or “how are you?”, just in everyday conversation and not really expect a response. Let us remember that it’s okay to take that question further if needed. If you are ever having any thoughts of suicide, please, please, reach out and ask for some support. LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO HELP STOP THE STIGMA!!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
“I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota.” – “Outshined”, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden
Rest easy, Cornell.