CW: This post discusses suicide and suicide-related topics.
In case you didn’t know, September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in the United States. Every year, I do my best to use this month as an opportunity to share information, statistics and resources related to suicide prevention. Suicide is not only an extremely serious topic, but a public health issue. We can’t continue to ignore this topic, as hard as it may be to talk about. Suicide prevention means speaking up, sharing our stories, and reminding others that they are not alone.
I’ve been writing about suicide prevention and suicide-related topics since I started this blog six years ago. It’s something that is very personal and close to my heart, both as a mental health advocate and as a person. I understand the struggle of sharing your story – of being afraid to tell someone that you’re hurting, or that you don’t want to be here anymore. It’s one of the reasons I started My Brain’s Not Broken to begin with. I was struggling to share my experience and tell my story. At some point, the idea to start a blog took hold, but it was still years before I got going. As much as I wanted to try and tell my story, it was still hard.
And we know why it’s hard. We see why it’s hard, every single day, to be vulnerable in our society. We don’t want to appear weak. We want to seem like we “have it together” (what that means, I still don’t know). We don’t want people to worry about us, or check up on us. And the shame…oh, the shame. We’re ashamed of our pain, embarrassed that we even have it to begin with. All these reasons, and many more, are why people don’t seek help when they’re hurting.
Sometimes, the consequences for that aren’t that severe. There are levels to pain, just as there are levels to every type of emotion we experience. And that is why suicide prevention is so important – it is truly a life-or-death situation. There is a seriousness to this topic, a weight to it that makes it hard to talk about. But that is exactly why we should be talking about it. Because if we don’t know what we’re up against, how can we fight against it?
There has been a tremendous amount of research and data surrounding suicide in the United States in recent decades. This data has been helpful in recognizing that suicide is a public health issue. That in recent decades, it’s become a leading cause of death in the United States, even while there is acknowledgement that this data is underreported. This issue is not going anywhere and, as we’ve seen, is becoming more prevalent as time goes on.
So, what do we do? How do we talk about a topic that is painful, heavy. and personally taxing for millions of people? I don’t have an easy answer to that question, but the best one I have is this: we start trying. We start trying to have conversations that we haven’t had before. We acknowledge that there are groups of people who are at higher risk for suicide, and we make sure people have the resources they need. We start trying to talk, but we also start trying to listen. Sometimes, people can’t share their stories unless room is made for them to do so. Suicide, like mental illness, does not discriminate. I don’t say that to scare you or make you feel defeated; far from it. If anyone can be impacted, then shouldn’t we stand together? Shouldn’t we be stronger because of that? I think so. In fact, I know so.
This month, I’m hoping to use this blog as a space to share statistics and resources surrounding suicide and suicide prevention. But I’m also hoping to use this space to share people’s stories. If you have a story to share, please get in touch with me – I’d love to give you a platform to talk during this month. We are stronger together and by lifting each other up we can get out of the darkness, together.