If You're Unsure If You 'Deserve' to Participate in World Suicide Prevention Day
A few years ago, on September 10, I messaged a friend to tell him I was glad he was still alive. I did this because this friend had survived an attempt to end his life, and September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day – I thought if there was ever a day I wanted this survivor friend of mine to know he was loved, it was today. I hadn’t known him yet when he attempted and I never would have known him if he hadn’t survived. I wanted him to know my life was better because he was still alive to be in it.
My friend responded quickly and told me he didn’t know about the day’s significance, but he was really appreciative that I’d reached out. I smiled, glad to have encouraged him, but as I went about the rest of my day I had an anxiety nagging at me. Was it OK for me to celebrate my own life on this day, too?
I hadn’t (and haven’t) ever attempted to end my life, but I have spent entire years wrestling with the Liar that is Depression, and that Liar has displayed what seems like boundless energy and cruel creativity in talking me towards giving up. I hadn’t ever attempted, but suicide was a demon I had faced down with alarming frequency. I hadn’t taken any tangible action to end my life, but I had overcome persistent pushes toward a permanent ending.
But if I’m honest, I don’t think I was really wondering whether my struggle had earned me the title of Survivor or not. The issue wasn’t really whether my life had been sufficiently threatened, but whether my life was sufficiently valuable – whether the breath in my lungs was worth being grateful for. If September 10 were a day for us to acknowledge the struggling, to rally around them and tell them their continued existence was a precious, worthwhile thing, I wasn’t sure whether I belonged in either camp, the ones of the supporters or those worth supporting.
Thankfully, my life looks a lot different now than it did back then. I still wrestle with lies sometimes, but most days, I experience wellness. I even often experience health, and on days when I don’t, I think I see my struggle more clearly – as something that is not my fault and which is not a reflection of my heart, and as something I am far from alone in. September 10 doesn’t bring painful questions for me anymore, and I’m thankful for that. This letter is for those who are still unsure.
If you experience depression, if your depression has tried to undermine your sense of safety or told you that you are better off dead, this day is for you.
If you have acted on those thoughts, this day is for you, but if you haven’t, this day is for you, too. Whether you are finally in a healthy space, struggling towards wellness, or just trying to keep the earth below your feet, this day is yours.
Whether you have people to acknowledge this day with, or if nobody knows your story, if you haven’t been able to open up yet: you are worth celebrating. You deserve to be known. You are loved. If nobody else has said this to you, allow me: this day is for you.
My hope is that the lie of loneliness will have less hold, year after year, until one September you are able to know without question your worth, and join those of us who are already grateful you are still alive.
If you notice money going to campaigns, hear conversations being had, if you see people sharing their stories, and you feel as though you are on the outside, or you wonder your place: the very reason this is happening is because your pain matters.
People are giving their money, time and words because your struggle matters. We are moving together to make hope and help known because your story matters and
we need it to continue.
Whether you feel a sense of triumph, or have mixed feelings about still being here, if you are not sure whether it’s a good thing that you are still around to see this day: this day is still for you. It is good that you are here to see it. You are not alone. You don’t have to feel a certain way about being alive for your life to be worth celebrating. Whether you are a victor in the clear, a warrior still in the fray, whether you can see the battle with clarity or if it’s impossibly dark, this day is yours.
There is no mold to fit. There is no prerequisite. Your life matters, and we say with greater intention on September 10 the things we feel just as much on every single day on the calendar. It is good that you are still breathing. Please keep being alive. The fight is always worth it. You are not alone.