Why I Hate National Suicide Prevention Month as a Suicidal Person
September is a great month for a number of reasons. It marks the start of autumn with cooler sweater weather, pumpkin patches, pumpkin-spice goodies, an abundance of in-season apples, Halloween-themed products, Latinx Heritage Month and beautiful autumn-themed color palettes. Plus, on a personal note, September is the birthday month of several Virgo loved ones. Also, as someone whose seasonal depression gets worse during spring and summer, the end of summer is definitely something to celebrate and love. Not to mention, Earth, Wind & Fire’s famed song, “September?” I mean, who doesn’t love that song?
Now, despite all of this, I really hate this time of year.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month here in the U.S., as well as the month World Suicide Prevention Day takes place. However, unlike what title implies, the focus during this time isn’t really on those who struggle with suicidality. In fact, many who speak on this issue fail to address the many aspects of our society that contribute to suicide. Sure, there are hotlines and links to different mental health centers, but as many people who have struggled with suicidality or mental illness know, these can sometimes be unhelpful resources that do very little to help those who are struggling.
The supposed experts in this area also fail to address all the different aspects of societal issues that contribute to suicidality. For instance, when it comes to suicidality and prevention of suicide, it goes beyond awareness of these issues. To truly prevent suicide, we need to address how suicidal patients are treated and how asking for help in a country that often fails to provide adequate mental healthcare, as well as models psych wards/hospitals after prisons, is not really the solution people seem to think it is. From my experiences, more often than not suicidal patients leave medical offices and institutions more traumatized than they came in. Which, of course, then leads to patients becoming discouraged with openly talking about their struggles with suicidal thoughts out of fear of institutionalization.
The push to seek treatment also fails to address the fact that many of the necessary treatments for suicidal thoughts and mental illnesses are not at all accessible to a large portion of the concerned population.
Another part of why this month really bothers me is how so many people who don’t seem to care about suicidal people, mental healthcare, or suicide prevention the other 11 months of the year, suddenly act as if they do care. From what I’ve seen, they copy and paste posts from organizations like the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) and post it on their social media, creating the appearance of concern as they ignore the people in their lives struggling with these very issues.
Suicidality can be very isolating. It can bring you down into a pit of self-depreciation, loneliness, and unrelenting sadness. And as a suicidal person, it feels almost like a personal attack to see those around you, who show very little concern or care during the rest of the year, go on and on about the importance of suicide prevention. Suicide prevention goes beyond social media posts or hotlines, and people should care about those struggling with these issues before they die by suicide.
As someone who’s struggled with suicidality since I was 11 years old and has multiple comorbid mental illnesses, I’m tired of seeing people only care in theory and not in practice. I’m tired of people only caring about us after we die. I’m also tired of all the highlighted stories concerning this topic being from “experts” in the medical field rather than those of us who have actually lived through and/or are living through the topic at hand.
September is a great month in theory, but as a person who’s had multiple suicide attempts and has struggled with suicidality for most of her life, it’s not a month I really look forward to.
Photo by Anton Atanasov on Unsplash