Tuesday, September 11, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day

Yesterday Was World Suicide Prevention Day. 
(I'm a little late posting this)

Some call it National Suicide Awareness Day,etc. Whatever you might call it, it is an important day to acknowledge and support. My father is a survivor, by the grace of God, of multiple attempts. I have known others in my life who did not survive however. People who felt hopeless enough to end their lives, rather than to find hope; it really breaks my heart. The first time I learned about what suicide was, I was a small child. The hairdresser that my mom always took my sister and I to ended his life one day. My mom had to sit us down and explain what happened to him. (And to her credit, she told me exactly what a child my age needed to hear, and nothing that went over my head.). Years later, my mom and I both woke up in the middle of the night to screaming police and ambulance sirens in the neighborhood we lived in. One of our neighbors had shot himself to end his own life. He had a wife and a newborn child. I'll never forget the sight of paramedics putting him into the ambulance (he passed away en route to the hospital, so when they wheeled him out on the gurney, you could see everything.) It was horrible.

I remember working for animal control and having a precious volunteer I had the pleasure of getting to work around confide in me one day. She told that her father had ended his life when she was younger. She lived with that memory and heartbreak every single day because of the decision he made to end his life. I'll never forget the words she spoke to me, or the way my heart ached for her family's loss. No family should ever have to bury their loved ones, and certainly not at the hand of suicide.

My most recent memory of someone taking their life occurred over a year and a half ago when I lived at my old apartment complex. My neighbor on the floor above me took his life. Once again, I saw another neighbor being wheeled away on a gurney...only this time in a body bag. It was so somber and numbing to watch that unfold, knowing that only the day before we had spoken in the hallway. Sometimes, you just never know how much a person is struggling or hurting because they camouflage their pain and hurt so well with a fake smile.

It breaks my heart that one of the most precious people in my life, my father, tried to take his own life twice. (We were estranged at that point and he didn't enter into my life until I was older. Now we have an amazing relationship.) He is doing well now, and will talk candidly and openly about what he did and why he felt that was the answer to his problems. Thankfully, he knows it's not the answer now. Nonetheless, I still talk to him on a regular basis and go out of my way to make it known to him just how much he is loved and needed in my life and the lives of those around us. I think it's also a positive step that he recognizes he has PTSD now and doesn't feel shame in talking to someone when he has bad thoughts. (He witnessed some pretty awful things during the Vietnam War.). I am so proud of him for sharing his story with others, and continuing to chose hope each day that he wakes up! I am so blessed that he was not "successful" in his suicide attempts and that he is in my life. I don't know what I'd do without him around!

 Suicide not only takes the lives of those who commit it, it takes the life right out of those they leave behind. Please, if you're thinking about hurting yourself or just feeling blue, don't be afraid to talk to someone. Silence is the true beginning to the downward spiral. If you don't feel that you can talk to someone in your family, school, or circle of friends, then there is a fantastic number that you can call: The National Suicide Prevention Life Line: 1 (800) 273-8255. I've personally called that number before out of concern for a loved one that I thought was going to harm themselves. They gave me some great advice on ways that I could show support and love to try and make sure my loved one did not try to harm themselves. Those hot lines are also for concerned families and friends too, so if you are concerned about someone like I was, they are a great resource for you too. They can teach you what to say and how to try and make a positive difference. You never know just how much your words might impact someone...please try to make sure that you always leave them with words of hope...

Today, people across the world sported "Love" writings on their wrists in support for those who have struggled with thoughts, committed, or thought about ending their lives. It is also a day to remember how important it is to rally around the families of those who have lost loved ones to such a terrible tragedy.

Life is precious. Life is a gift. Life is worth living.

Below are some links with info that might be helpful to you or a loved one in your life:

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