Editorial: Confronting Suicide

Editorial: Confronting Suicide


If you want a sobering statistic to ponder, think of this: According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), approximately 1.2 million people attempted to commit suicide in 2020. 

Thankfully, the vast majority did not succeed, but nearly 46,000 did. For that year — the last for which complete statistics are available — suicide ranked as the 12th leading cause of death in the country. Had even half of those who attempted to end their life been successful, it would be right at the top.

Other data points are equally troubling: More than 12 million individuals admitted to contemplating suicide in 2020, and more than 3 million made some sort of a plan to carry out the act. Obviously, not all such ideas are created equal, as some may have been overcome with grief or depression during a particularly difficult personal moment, and had only a fleeting thought of suicide. While disturbing, it would not be nearly as worrisome as someone who had been thinking about suicide for quite some time, making plans and looking to carry them out. But thoughts of death, no matter how quickly they arrive and then exit, are never to be trifled with.

September is Suicide Prevention Month and, as such, Chesprocott Health District, in partnership with the City of Meriden, will be holding a prevention training session next week. The goal is simple: Teach as many individuals as possible how to detect the warning signs in those who may be struggling with anxiety or depression and considering suicide. Intervention can lead to getting people in crisis the help they need — help that can literally be life-saving.

But as necessary as training for all may be, it’s imperative that the message be sent loud and clear to those who are battling suicidal thoughts. You are not alone. You do not have to fight the battle on your own. There is help out there, and probably more people than you realize who are ready to assist.

Many who suffer through depression seek to hide the signs of their illness. Unlike diseases such as cancer or diabetes, there are not always outwards signs of depression to alert loved ones that something is wrong. The person who is thinking about ending their life may insist they are fine, that nothing is amiss.

But, of course, there are red flags to look for. Habits may change. Little hints of hopelessness may emerge in conversations about the future. Self-destructive behavior may enter into the equation.

Reaching out to ask, “Is everything alright?” may seem like a small, almost inconsequential thing to do, but it may just crack the emotional door enough to get someone talking about the thoughts they’ve been having and the help they need. It may open that person’s eyes to the fact that, yes, life is worth living and there are people who not only want but need you around.

Yet, no intervention is meaningful if the person struggling doesn’t reach out and take the help being offered. If a friend asks about someone’s mental health or recent behavior and the the response they receive is, “I’m fine,” then nothing can truly be done.

There is no shame in admitting that help is necessary. There is no need to try and fight such a difficult battle alone, especially if such attempts have failed to alter the dark and disturbing course one is currently on.

Each day is new and precious. For those dealing with anxiety and depression, it may not seem so, but each morning provides another opportunity for a better life.

If that seems untrue to you, let someone know. If a friend or family member is reaching out, they are doing so for a reason. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Healing is often just an extended hand away … if you’re willing to take it.



 

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