Today, 10 September 2012 is World Suicide Prevention Day.
The mandate of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the WHO is, on the surface, simple: prevent people from killing themselves. Thru awareness campaigns and due diligence the IASP advocates for prevention, treatment and follow-up for those who have attempted and responsible reporting of suicides in the media.
It is estimated that over 3000 people a day commit suicide around the globe and that for every person who does succeed, 20 others (or more) will make an attempt on their life. World wide, somebody, somewhere kills themselves every 30 seconds…
GLBT kids are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. It is estimated that between 30 and 40% of gay or gay-identified teenagers will make an attempt on their life. It is virtually impossible to get complete and accurate data as many GLBT kids are living in fear and society sanctioned silence, too terrified to stand up and be counted.
Awareness is impossible with silence and since I am no longer a terrified teenager I will stand up and be counted as someone who has attempted suicide.
(enormous sigh of relief)
Our society is so hung up on being judged and stigmatized that it prevents us from actually talking to each other. When we talk, when we really communicate and strip away the veneer of the ideal, we will discover that we are not so very different than everybody else.
So yeah, when I was in my early twenties I tried to kill myself. I had simply run out of answers and wanted to not feel anything anymore. I was without hope, living in a world of lies and self-loathing and I could not cope.
But, here’s the rub – I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to stop.
My suicide attempt was a cry for help. I even feel guilty calling it a suicide attempt because I really didn’t try that hard. I know (with 20 years of hindsight) that if I had really wanted to die I would have found a way to make that happen. I feel like I take something away from the “real” attempts – whatever that means – when I reveal my actual motives, like somehow I lessen their experience and am an imposter.
And isn’t that that the point? It is only through talking about it – through awareness – that I am able to process and (quite unexpectedly) let go of some of this guilt and shame I have been carrying around with me.
Thankfully, I got the help I so desperately needed. Imagine if I had not “cried for help?” If the weight of my depression had kept piling up and the downward spiral had continued unabated I very well may have stepped in front of a bus.
I was contacted a few days later by an organization called S.A.F.E.R. (Suicide Attempt Follow-up Education & Research program) and made an appointment to see a counselor. Everything changed after that. Not because my life was suddenly a bed of roses with dancing lambs and rainbows, but because somebody wanted to listen.
Awareness is everything. Communication is key. Talking about suicide and suicide prevention and listening when people reach out for help will lift the stigma and maybe, just maybe, stop someone you love from making a terrible decision.
Lets make every day World Suicide Prevention Day.