5 Things to Remember on World Suicide Prevention Day

The World Health Organization states that more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Every year, World Suicide Prevention Day is a recognition of this, and this year it occurs Sunday, September 10. For those of us who have been personally affected by suicide — whether it be suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or the survivors of a loved one’s suicide, it is a difficult and overwhelming day. For me, it is also a day when my hope and strength can be renewed, seeing the amount of love and support pour toward us from all over the world. For those of you who are nervous heading into WSPD 2017, here are some things to remember.

1. It is NOT your responsibility to share your story.  

Some people may pressure you into sharing your story, saying it will be helpful to others facing suicidal thoughts or depression, or they may say it will be therapeutic for you to talk about it. But it is OK if you are not ready for that step. Although I battle passive suicidal thoughts on at least a weekly basis, it has been almost four years since I took any actions, and I still find it difficult to talk about. It is OK to keep your experiences to yourself or to share it with only a select few people.

2. If you want to share your story, there will be people to support you. 

Your story and your experiences will impact a number of people in different ways. Some will be understanding and be able to offer support based on their own similar experiences.  For others who have lost a loved one to suicide, you will provide that understanding to them. Although we may not have all of the answers to the questions about why someone would do such a thing, providing even an ounce of insight can bring people closure. And know if there is even one person who looks down on you for opening up about your experiences or looks down on you for going through such experiences, there are at least 10 times as many people here to support you.

3. I’m proud of you.

Let me say this again: I am proud of you. If you have survived an attempt or thoughts, I am so glad that you are still here, battling the parts of your mind that told you to leave this world. I am proud of you for surviving, for choosing to stay. If you have lost someone to suicide, I am sending my love to you. I am proud of you for surviving that loss.

4. There are so many more options for you when you are struggling than suicide. 

Although it may be difficult to see when you are surrounded by darkness or doubt, there are people and places to look toward for help. If you are not comfortable opening up to your closest relatives or friends, there are doctors, counselors, call centers and online chat rooms (if you are need helping find a safe chat space to talk click here). If you ever feel like you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself, please talk to someone you trust, call the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) or get to an emergency room for support. People are here. People care.

5. Thank you for your support.

I say this on behalf of all of us affected by suicide. This is an isolating experience, so being shown acceptance, love and support is enormously appreciated. Please do not look at us as broken, but appreciate our strength.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Pavels Sabelnikovs

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