Take a moment and count to 40 with me.
Someone, somewhere in the world, just took their own life. And it will happen over and over again, every 40 seconds.
According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people die every year due to suicide.
To someone—death is the solution to the difficulties.
And we can’t always understand those difficulties, but we can always choose to refrain from judgment. We can also choose to offer alternative solutions in the form of our own care, concern, and love.
According to reports, suicide rates are on the rise among women in the United States and we have to address that, too.
It’s still more common among men, but in a 2016 report released by the CDC, they found that suicide rates among women rose by 45 percent between 1999 to 2004, and the rate of increase is actually higher than the rate of increase among men.
Experts are still assessing what’s behind the cultural change, but know that women are under a lot more stress and pressure trying to simultaneously do #allthethings such as have a successful career, raise children, keep their home Instagram-worthy, and look a certain way.
So, what can we do?
How do we address the mental health crisis in our society?
I’m not a psychologist or expert, but I do know that as an everyday human being, these two things are the very basic things I believe that I can do every day and you can, too:
- Be Transparent With Our Own Pain and How We’re Dealing With It—
To address the stigma, we have to talk. So many individuals who battle suicide and depression carry immense shame and embarrassment. They feel broken, misunderstood and like a burden to their family and friends.
To help alleviate the shame they’re carrying, it’s important that we tell our own stories so they don’t feel like they’re alone, like their struggles are in isolation.
We must be transparent about our struggles and share the tools and resources we’re using to cope. As Brene Brown says in her book Daring Greatly,
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
I believe vulnerability is also the path to greater suicide awareness and deeper empathy and understanding for those who face mental health struggles.
The second thing I think we can do is….
- Reach Out to Others Who Are in Pain
We must reach out and try to understand the pain happening around us. It’s time we keep our antennas up to the people in our circles and the people we pass on the street.
We must tune into what’s going on in our society, but more importantly tune into people with a keen sense of seeing, hearing, and feeling.
We have to activate love.
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our own busy lives and challenges, but in the same way we’re all trying to make a conscious effort towards more gratitude, we also have to make a conscious effort towards more empathy.
We have to point others to counselors who can help and clinics who offer support, but we can also be that unwavering support too.
Another thing everyone can do right now is save The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number in your phone.
Save it for yourself, save it for a family member, save it for a friend. Keep it ready and available so it’s a click away if you ever feel the need to make the call or need to share it with someone else.
The hotline is open 24/7 and their number is 1-800-273-8255.
So, what do you think, friends—can you imagine how much more love we can activate in those who are suicidal or depressed just by taking practical steps towards being more vulnerable and reaching out more often?
I know it’s not a big and massive effort or elaborate plan to revamp the system, but these small efforts multiplied might just be the things that save lives…or save a life.
And that life counts.
That’s what we’re trying to convey, right?