Suicide. We don’t even like to say the word, and when we do it usually comes out in some sort of hushed tone. So let’s talk about it clearly now. The odds are really high that you know someone who has been affected by suicide. Maybe they struggled with ideas of suicide, maybe they attempted, and maybe you knew someone who has died by suicide. Maybe you’re somewhere on that list.
Not many people are comfortable talking about suicide because no one really quite knows how to handle the subject. Who’s to blame, what could we have done differently, what should I say, can it be stopped? These are all questions that come swirling into our minds when the topic comes up and they usually go unanswered – sometimes because there’s no answer to be found, and sometimes because we’d rather ignore the topic than address it. We’ve given suicide a personality of its own – kind of like Beetlejuice or Voldemort; we think it’s better not to say anything about it lest it show up.
We actually do more harm than good when we leave suicide unaddressed.
There are countless reasons that people struggle with suicidal thoughts and actions and no number of words that I put on a page could quantify or do justice to the pain of those struggles – but that doesn’t mean that our words are meaningless. Connection and belonging (to a group, a family, etc…) are primary needs in each of our lives. In other words, by inviting people – bumps, bruises and all – into your life, you can make a world of difference for those that feel disconnected and alone. When we ignore the pain that is so common in the lives of those around us, we are sending the message that their struggle is not welcome in our community. Over 1,800 people in the state of Pennsylvania have already died by suicide this year alone. That’s not to mention the fact that by some estimates there are 25 suicide attempts for every 1 completed suicide. That means that 45,000 people in our state are personally struggling with suicide. That’s 45,000 people that we need to care for and share life with. That’s 45,000 sons, daughters, mothers and fathers that we can’t afford to ignore.
When we open ourselves up to hard conversations we become examples of caring and loving community. Community isn’t always easy, and it’s often scary, but there are people that need connection, love and hope more than anything else. You can be an agent of hope. You can change a life.
For more information, please contact Ed Sutter
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