As humans, we share a lot of ourselves with others. We talk about the weather we like, things that stress us out or annoy us, things that make us laugh, and physical pain we may be feeling. It’s fairly easy to go to a doctor to talk about physical pain, but it’s much more difficult to share what is hurting us deep inside, at the core of our being. It isn’t easy to share that we are feeling lonely, overwhelmed, worried about being a burden. It isn’t easy to share that life no longer seems worth living. It isn’t easy for someone to share that they are considering suicide as a way to end this suffering.
I was 20 years old when I lost my grandfather to death by suicide. In the weeks leading up to his death, my grandpa was giving away family heirlooms, calling and saying goodbye to relatives he had not talked to in years, or even decades. His sleep patterns and behavior were noticeably different. These are all warning signs of suicide, but none of his family or friends recognized them as such. We did not understand that he would have likely given us a straight answer if he had only been asked the question. If we had been aware of signs and steps to support him, there is a chance that he may still be here today to see his great-grandchildren running through the garden he spent so much of his own time in.
Mental health professionals are wonderful and necessary, but it takes all of us to make a collective change. Learn the signs. Show that you care. Be willing to ask the question, listen to honest answers, and connect those around you to additional support. Preventing suicide is everybody’s business!
If you or someone you know are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255) or text “HOME” to 741741.
To search for additional support groups and resources near you, search here.