September is suicide prevention month, and it is more prevalent than most people probably realize.
In Kentucky, one person dies every 11 hours from suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 15-34, and the fourth leading cause of death in people ages 35-54. Suicide enters the top 10 leading causes of death starting at age 10.
I daresay there are few people, who haven’t been impacted by suicide in some way or another.
My first real experience with it came a few years back when I bumped into a friend that I had made through work, but we hadn’t seen each other in a quite a while.
As fate had it, we were both in the same place at the same time waiting to talk to the same person for entirely different reasons. We sat around for probably half an hour talking about life and so forth. He spent most of the time talking about his wife and daughter, but mainly about his daughter, who he adored.
Then the guy we were both waiting to talk with got free for a few minutes. What I needed was very short so I talked to him first, said goodbye to my friend, and left.
Less than 24 hours later, one of my co-workers walked into my office to inform us all that my friend, who I spoken with the prior day, had died.
As it turned out, he killed himself.
I was in shock. I had spent half an hour talking to my friend a day earlier and had no clue anything was wrong.
Sometimes people decide to kill themselves, and those around them have no clue that anything is wrong.
Other times though there are warning signs, such as a sudden change in behaviors or giving away prized belongings for no obvious reason.
Sometimes there is something that you can do.
A few years back a friend of mine started withdrawing from several groups that he belonged too. I started to get worried. I dropped him a simple e-mail just asking if he was OK.
As it turned out, he was fine. He was just planning to go to graduate school and was trying to simplify his life a little bit. He thanked me for asking about him though, and noted that I was the only person, who asked if he was OK.
A few years later, I was speaking with another friend, who confided to me that after his wife died, he got really depressed and had thought about killing himself. He said that he was better now though.
Before my friend left, I looked him straight in the eye made him promise me that if he ever got that low again, he would call me before he did anything stupid.
I am by no means any kind of expert on suicide, but for those who have friends or family members acting strangely or that are extremely down, I would just say pay them a visit, make a phone, send them a text or e-mail.
Ask them if they are OK. Let them know that at least one person cares.
Sometimes reaching out to someone, who is down, can be the difference between life and suicide. Sometimes it doesn’t change anything.
If you make the effort though, you won’t have to live with asking yourself what if, should your friend kill himself or herself, and you may just save a life.
As I wrote earlier, I am by no means an expert on suicide, but I happen to live with someone who is. My wife, Cecelia White, is the emergency services director at Cumberland River Behavioral Health. If you want to find out more about suicide, then you may want to check out her video and those of others on the Cumberland River Behavioral Health Community Mental Health Center’s Facebook page.
I got the statistics I wrote about earlier from her video in case anyone is wondering.
Also, there is a “Still I Rise Suicide Prevention Walk scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. in Nibroc Park in Corbin. The walk is in honor of 16-year-old Bethany Faith Lawson, who was one of three people and one of two teenagers in Whitley County to die by suspected suicide over a 24-hour time period in August 2018.
The purpose of Saturday’s walk is to raise awareness about suicide prevention and to promote the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Help is also available by texting 741741 and the word “home” to that number. Help via chatting through text is available 24/7 at that number.
Below are some links to resources you can seek if you or someone you care about needs help.
- Zero Suicide in Healthcare and Behavioral Healthcare – www.zerosuicide.org.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center – www.sprc.org.
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – http://actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org.
- American Association of Suicidology – www.suicidology.org.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – www.afsp.org.
- National Council for Behavioral Health – http://www.thenationalcouncil.org.
If you are thinking about harming yourself, please seek help.