BuzzFeed recently interviewed four suicide attempt survivors in a moving video. Each spoke about the challenges they faced that led them to attempt to take their own lives, and then about the ways they’ve learned to cope since then.
“It gets better,” one of the interviewees, whose name isn’t shared, says in the video below. “You are worth life. You are worth living. You are worth breathing.”
In the comments section below the video, other suicide attempt survivors chimed in to share their stories and to show solidarity.
“It’s the best thing to choose to be alive when you realize you could’ve lost it all by one attempt,” Christine Ann Basile wrote in the comments. “To those who are still trying to survive, just know there’s more to life. I’m a survivor too.”
“I’m a suicide attempt survivor,” Siseneg Yanimir Berríos wrote. “I’m still trying to survive. But I’ve done it before and I will conquer this again. It will not win.”
As we near the end of National Suicide Prevention Month, it’s important that we not only continue to talk about suicide, but also dispel some common misinformation surrounding it. The more we understand about suicide the less taboo it will become, and the more we can do for individuals who are at risk. In my work with the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Alberta, Canada, here are some common myths I hear and why it’s important to know the truth.
1. Myth: People who talk about suicide should not be taken seriously.
Fact: The American Association of Suicidology lists suicidal talk as a major warning sign for suicidal risk. This myth is dangerous because it suggests those who talk about suicide are just trying to get attention. Suicidal behavior should always be taken seriously. Suicidal talk often begins with suicidal thoughts which can escalate to suicidal acts such as attempted suicide if the appropriate interventions are not made.
2. Myth: Children do not die by suicide.
Fact: It is widely believed children are incapable of dying by suicide because they lack the mental development necessary to carry out such an act. This isn’t true – although there are few studies on the matter because it’s not perceived as a problem. We need to acknowledge that children are capable of suicide.
5. Myth: The suicide rate is highest around December holidays.
Fact: This is not true. In fact, the rate peaks in early spring. Some believe the holiday season can be a protective factor for those at risk. Dr. Thomas Joiner, a psychologist whose research focuses on suicide, calls it a “time of togetherness” that can lessen the chances of suicide. We should engage in open and honest conversations about suicide no matter what the season.
For Steve Andrews, founder of Black Dog Rider, it all started after his best friend’s wife took her own life.
This wasn’t the first time his life had been touched by suicide — his own mother died by suicide years before. Andrews hadn’t known his mother was depressed until finding letters she’d written before her death. Similarly, his best friend Jack Michael’s wife Anna had kept quiet about her depression.
Now they’re bringing the ride and the conversation to America.
The group of 65 bikers, who left from New York City on Sunday, Sept. 13, are making their way to Los Angeles, tracking 4,350 miles in 21 days. According to its website, the group hopes to specifically engage American military veterans and first responders.
“The motorcyles create interest,” Andrews told The Mighty. “People see a group of bikes roll into town and they want to know what we’re about. Everywhere we go people talk to us.”
The ride also creates a safe space for the bikers involved, many of whom have a connection to suicide and depression, Andrews said.
“It’s amazing how many people have a connection to a cause,” Andrews said. “They look big and tough and bulletproof, but you give them a safe zone and they just open up.”
You can follow the riders using their itenerary and also on their Facebook page. The proceeds raised from this ride will go to Mental Health First Aid USA, providing scholarships for first responders and veterans to be trained in Mental Health First Aid, helping communities respond to mental health crises. Donations can be made here.
For those with a sweet tooth and a love for Robin Williams, a group of bakers crafted the perfect tribute for World Suicide Prevention Day.
Organized by bakers JaneReyes, Laura Lynch and Mary Menkevich, the cake collaboration, called Legacy of Laughter, honors the life of Williams and the many characters he played — through incredibly designed cakes.
“Robin’s death touched a lot of people,” Menkevich told The Mighty. “He was such a wonderful and colorful character.”
“My suffering from anxiety and depression is what lead me to cake decorating in the first place…Hopefully this collaboration will help someone reach out before they are too lost,” Mary Tomczak said in her statement. Her cake shows Williams in “What Dreams May Come.”
“When I learned of his death my heart broke. When I learned he took his own life I sat with my head in my hands and I cried and cried,” said Jenifer Kennedy, who recreated Williams’ role in “Dead Poet’s Society.” “I wished I could have been there to tell him how much he touched my life.”
Officer Dan Hicks arrived on the scene to find a man sitting on the ledge of a bridge on the Beltline over Wade Avenue. Hicks spent time talking to the man and was eventually able to persuade him to come back over from the ledge.
Then, once the man was standing on the highway, he embraced the officer. They stood there in a long hug before Hicks walked him back to a car.