By Douglas Hardman
Sometimes you won’t even know. Sometimes you’ll see a smile and think nothing is wrong.
Suicide is one of the largest epidemics in the world right now. It is ranked as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with an average of one person committing suicide every 13 minutes.* But what tends to happen is these suicides get written off as “a cry for attention” instead of understanding that the reasons for suicides stem from mental and psychological struggles.
There are a lot of stigmas revolving around suicide and the reasons people decide to end it all. General misconceptions are: “just doing it for attention,” “they’re crazy,” “suicidal people are unwilling to seek help,” “if they already have death on their mind, nothing will stop them.” The reality of the situation is that we do not talk about it.* Suicide is such a touchy subject that most people are afraid of even saying the word. So when we ignore the issues or turn a blind eye, the people with this feelingbecome even more lonely and ignored. They feel as if no one cares.
For far too long, issues with suicide and mental illnesses have been overlooked and undervalued in our society. It’s too taboo and too sensitive, so we just ignore it. When we are able to talk about the problems that cause suicidal thoughts, we can get everything out in the open and show our support for those going through this dark time.
You will not know unless you ask. There’s another misconception that all suicidal people will be moping around, talking about death and hopelessness. Most of the time, they will be smiling and conversing like normal. Most of the time, you won’t even suspect it because you won’t be with them when their car is parked on the tracks at night or when they’re writing their last note ever. So just because they don’t look alone when they’re with you, doesn’t mean they aren’t.
The link between suicide and depression is astronomical. Nearly 90 percent of people with suicidal tendencies have some form of mental illness, depression being number one.* So when we ignore both suicidal thoughts and the seriousness of depression, we overlook even bigger issues. Not every person with depression is suicidal and not every suicidal person is depressed. But we cannot ignore the connection or the issues at hand.
The biggest thing you can do is be a supporter. Be there for that person who doesn’t think their life is worth living. Talk to them, tell them that their feelings are justified and that the ending of their story does not need to be finished by them. Do not simply overlook them or ignore them because it’s “sensitive.” It is very sensitive, emotional, and overbearing, and it’s going to be tough to talk about it, but the worse damage comes from remaining silent.
And for those that are crying themselves to sleep at night, cradling a bottle of pills or writing your note or even just contemplating the thought, please know you are never alone, even in this huge and crazy, messed up world. Reach out to a friend, family member, or counselor, anyone that can listen to you. It’s not your time, my friend. You’ve got more to give in this life and your existence is relevant. Stay alive; because you will die, as we all will, one day, but now your life is free. Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is just the devil luring you into his trap.