World Suicide Prevention Day

by , Sunday September 10, 2017
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World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Today we bring attention to the silent illness, the hidden killer, the misguided ghosts. Today we hug our loved ones and remind them that they are loved, they do belong here, and that we would miss them greatly if they left. Today we remember the people we lost to depression, the people who felt so hopeless, so lost, that they decided there was no reason to live, because every day would just be another battle.
Mental illness is the war that no one wants to talk about. It's the elephant in the room. It's the murderer that no one can catch. Everyone is scared of it. Depression, anxiety, borderline, bipolar, PTSD, OCD, and many other mental ailments are frequently misunderstood. People veer around them like the homeless man on the street corner. He's dirty, he's worthless, he's a mystery, he's something that no one dares to approach. 
This is the problem with mental illness. Everyone is too scared to talk about it. No one wants to tell their friends that last night they thought about taking a few handfuls of pills. No one wants to confess to their family that, every night, they cry themselves to sleep. Mental illness is treated like an idea rather than a serious thing. Teens who struggle with anxiety and depression are told that they'll get over it eventually. Adults who never got over it are told to suck it up, go see a doctor, get some pills, get some help, stop being so dramatic. Everyone tries to push away the problem that is mental illness. They won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. "Let the professionals handle it, there's nothing I can say that could help. One wrong word could send this person straight off the edge, right?"

Wrong.

There is no wrong word. There is only a lack of words.

If someone tells you that they have a mental illness, if they take the time and courage to open up to you about the demons in their head, they are trusting you to help them. They don't want to be shoved into a doctor's office or given the number of that therapist you know. They want you to TALK to them. They want to know that you will support them no matter what. They want to be treated like their pain matters. They want to know that they don't have to fight alone.

Mental illness is a war. Every day is a new battle. Sometimes, you win. Sometimes, you lose. 
And some people lose the war entirely. They are sliced down by the blade of suicide.

Suicide is the other elephant, the other homeless man. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to take it seriously. "He took his own life? He must be a coward."
It has nothing to do with fear, nothing to do with being lazy, nothing to do with being a coward. 
Suicide is a gradual darkness that starts to spread through a person's brain, telling them that they don't need to live, showing them all the ways and all the reasons to die. It keeps spreading until the person finally succumbs, they finally lose control and they pick up their weapon of self-destruction.

They think that no one will notice or care when they're gone, but that is false.
Everyone notices, everyone cares.
Some people care more than others.
Some people make a joke of it, calling the dead a coward.
Some people treat it like a delicate flower, unsure if they should even approach it.
Some people break.
Some people break, then put themselves back together and become advocates for mental health.

The truth is, despite the pain of losing someone to suicide, it is not a subject that should be approached delicately as many people believe. You shouldn't shove it in anyone's face that so-and-so just died by suicide, but you shouldn't dance around it, either.
Too many people are too afraid to talk about suicide and mental illness, and that's why it stays in the dark.

Suicide and mental illness need to come into the light. That's the only way we can fight against the darkness.

So many people hide their mental illness because they don't want to be shunned, or babied. They hide their death wish because they don't want to be called crazy and sick, they don't want to scare people away.

I stayed quiet about my mental health for a long time. I didn't tell anyone when I started having panic attacks. I didn't say anything on the days when I felt like I had no soul. I didn't reach out for a long time. While I would have never actually taken my own life, the thought did occasionally cross my mind, but I never told anyone that. I just stayed quiet and kept smiling, just like I'd done my entire life. I felt this pressure to be happy all the time, because that's what everyone knew me to be. I was Smiley, I was the girl who was always laughing. How could I shatter that girl? How could I reveal the truth? Especially as a hormonal teenager whose emotions shouldn't be trusted.

When I finally did open up, it was slow. I started with my closest friend, and slowly worked from there. Telling my friends how I felt was easy, they understood. 
Telling my parents was harder. I didn't say anything until late in my senior year, I was scared to tell them. I felt better once I did tell them, though. And they didn't baby me. They didn't immediately send me off to a doctor. They just reminded me that I am loved, and that I can always talk to them.

Now it's easier for me to talk about my mental health. I don't rub it in anyone's face. I don't just straight up say, "I have anxiety and depression!" It's something that I reveal once I get to know a person, once I feel that I can trust them and talk to them. And when I have a bad day, I always have someone I can talk to about it.

It's important to be open and honest about mental health.
It's important to LISTEN to someone when they're telling you about their mental health.
And it's important to speak up if you're worried about someone. If a friend or family member is acting odd, if they seem like they might need some extra TLC, talk to them. Let them know that you're there for them.

And don't dance around the topics of mental health and suicide. It's difficult to talk about, but it's something that has to be addressed.

Suicide is a tragedy, but if we can end the stigma of mental health and learn to open up, it's a tragedy that we can someday put an end to.

If any of my friends ever need someone to talk to, don't be afraid to message me!

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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