National Suicide Prevention Week is the Monday through Sunday surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, which is today.
Where do I go from there? Providing facts, figures, statistics–if these are things you want to know, the entire Internet is at your disposal. You can go to the American Association of Suicidology and learn so much about risk factors and support. To Write Love On Her Arms provides a wealth of ways of how we can raise awareness about suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is another outstanding resource.
All of those sites are helpful and important and can give you much better information than I can in this blog post.
What I’d most like to put in any vulnerable person’s head is this:
THERE IS NO SHAME IN TELLING SOMEONE ABOUT YOUR SUFFERING.
If you are depressed, lonely, frightened, thinking of self-harming, desperate to make the pain stop, there are people willing to listen to you and help you find the support you need. You are not weak. You are not a burden. You are not alone. You are not broken past hope. There is always hope. Always. There is always healing. Always. If the people you wish you could count on don’t want to hear you or don’t know how to help you, there are others who can help you believe what you need to know:
You matter so, so much. It’s hard sometimes to believe it’s true, but you have a unique place in the world that no one else can fill.
Of everyone I’ve ever known or met who knew my nephew Aaron, there is not one–NOT ONE–who would not have helped him had he described the anguish he was enduring. His particular darkness was depression, and there is no way to fathom how much energy it must have taken him to hide it from the people he loved. He wanted to protect us. He wanted to make us laugh. He wanted to be a part of all the good things that family and friendship offer. He was not perfect. He could act out. He could get angry. He could make mistakes. In other words, he was human just like every other person on the planet has ever been.
Except that depression lied to him and tormented him and ultimately convinced him that there was only one way to stop the pain he was in.
So this amazing person who was so full of compassion for others–for special needs kids, for the most damaged dogs in the shelter, for the friends who needed a shoulder to cry on, for anyone in the family who was sick or who was going through something challenging–in one terrible moment that can never be undone, he stopped being. His parents and everyone who loves him never saw him take his diploma. Never saw him drive his car to his first class as a college freshman. Will never see him marry the person he loves or hold his first child in his arms or fail at the endeavors that adults experience and rise above and go on to do extraordinary things. The world, such a better place because he was in it, can never fill the void of his absence.
We can never have him back. We can never undo that moment. We can never stop asking the questions and feeling the doubts of whether we could have helped create a different outcome.
All because depression made Aaron believe the most terrible lies of all. That he couldn’t talk to us. That he couldn’t reach for us. That he didn’t matter.
You all matter.
Please don’t go. If or when you find yourself at that point, if there is no one else to talk to, no one else to reach for, no one else who’ll tell you how much you matter, please call this number.
I love you, Aaron. We all do.