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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Six years ago, I tried to kill myself. That same year, I lost one of my best friends to suicide. In some way or another, I think we’ve all been touched by suicide: we’ve attempted, we know someone who’s attempted, we’ve lost a family member or friend, or we’ve watched someone we know go through that staggering brand of loss. The sad part is that it’s a topic we, as a society, tend to only speak about in hushed tones.
Instead of ignoring it because it’s not a thing most of us can easily wrap our heads around, what we should be doing is educating ourselves on the warning signs, on what to do when we fear someone we love is suicidal, on what our resources are. With that in mind, if there’s one thing I want you to know today, it’s that all you need to save a life is a little bit of empathy and a little bit of fearlessness. If you’re worried that someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, just ask them point-blank, “are you considering suicide?” The myth is that asking will plant the seed of an idea; the reality is that, if you’re thinking it, they already have. If the answer is yes and they’re seriously thinking suicide is an option, your directness may help them to get the load off that lets them see the light at the end of the tunnel, or it may open the door to finding them the professional help they need.
The night I attempted suicide was one of the scariest nights of my life, and it’s due to the care of a couple of fearless friends and my fearless mother that I made it through. Since suicide is likely an issue you’ll have to face at some point (if you haven’t already), why not take a few minutes to check out the National Council infographic below? It’s chock full of factoids on suicide, including demographic breakdowns, risk factors, and helpful resources. You never know, it might equip you with just the tools you need to save a life someday.