I know most of my regular posts are on the more upbeat side of things, or are at least thought-provoking but never very serious. However, every once in a while, there’s something I want to talk about that requires a more serious tone.
Yesterday (September 10) was a day that’s very important to me: World Suicide Prevention Day. In light of that, I’d like to reflect on this topic of suicide, depression, and mental health, since this is something I care about deeply and I feel like I haven’t given it enough attention as of late.
As many of you know, I’m a writer, but more than that, I’m a storyteller. Stories are one of my greatest passions; I love books, movies, TV shows, video games, anything that tells a story and does it well. I also really enjoy hearing other people’s stories. As much as I love fiction, there’s something amazing that comes from hearing another human being’s real story. It’s inspiring in a way that fiction sometimes isn’t, and it’s something that’s tied the human race together for centuries.
When I think about suicide prevention and mental illness, I often find myself returning to the subject of stories. It’s easy to limit these topics to statistics and say “117 people in the United States die by suicide every day,” and then move on, but it’s so much more than that. That’s 117 people with stories that will probably never be told because they felt like they were insignificant.
That’s why I want to say today, to whoever is listening out there, that your story matters. Regardless of what you’ve gone through in the past, what you’re struggling with now, or what you fear for the future, your life is a story that no one has ever heard. It’s a story that can encourage others and give them hope.
As I’m writing this, I think about some of the people we’ve lost in the past year. Project Semicolon founder Amy Bleuel and Linkin Park lead vocalist Chester Bennington both died by suicide this year, among many others, both famous and not, but nonetheless with stories to tell. Though I was never particularly a fan of Linkin Park, I know that their music spoke to many people in my generation, especially when we felt lost, confused, hurt, and depressed. Amy Bleuel did something similar, giving people who struggled with depression and suicide a voice to show the world that they were important, that despite everything, their story still mattered.
Losing anyone to suicide is a hard thing to take, but I think it can hurt even more when it’s someone you admired. When it comes to people like Amy and Chester, they were an inspiration for people who had also gone through hard times, and then suddenly, that role model was gone. It’s hard to come to terms with that.
However, in spite of this, the message they and so many others shared is still valid. They told the world that every person’s life is significant, even when their stories seemed like a messy mix of pain and depression and joy and happiness. They gave people a voice, a way to share their own struggles, and I think it’s vital that we remember that.
As I wrap up this blog post, I know there’s so much more that I could say, but I want to leave you with this: Your life is important, and your story matters, so please stay and tell it.
If you are currently struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or any other mental illness, you are not alone. A lot of us have been there to, and we are here to support you. We care about you and love you. Help is available for you, no matter what form it takes. Please keep living.
If you know someone who struggles, please be with them. Tell them you’re there to support them and they don’t need to go through this alone. Words have power, and we have the responsibility to use them to build others up.
If you have attempted suicide in the past, I’m so thankful that you are still alive. You are here for a reason – please don’t give up.
If you have lost a friend, family member, loved one, or anyone else to suicide, I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through. Please remember that to take care of yourself and know that there are people willing to help you through this.
If you have lost a role model to suicide this year or any other year, I know that this is hard, and I know it can be confusing. But please don’t forget that their message is still important. Hope is still real, and now you have the opportunity to share it.
If today is difficult for you for any reason, I’m praying for you. Whether you’re a longtime blog reader or just stumbled across it today, I care about you. And even if we’ve never talked before, you’re in my prayers today.
If you ever need someone to talk to, please feel free to use my contact page: whether it’s something on your mind, or just something you don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly, I’d be happy to start a conversation with you.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ to use their online chat service if you do not like talking on the phone.
(If you live outside of the U.S., visit this list for more information about suicide crisis lines in your country – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines)
For more information about suicide prevention, including support for loss survivors, visit https://afsp.org/