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Why Suicide Prevention Day Actually Bothers Me

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

As someone who advocates to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, I know that suicidal ideation comes with the territory. Sometimes when depression takes over, the thoughts linger and a person can wonder if maybe they would be better off just, not here anymore. It can be a scary feeling.

What’s even scarier and utterly heartbreaking is seeing a friend of yours lying in a casket after completing suicide on your birthday. For a myriad of reasons, at that moment, standing by her casket, I wished it was me instead — and not because of my mental illness. It is because this person was literally the best human being on the planet and was just better than me, better than anyone. I still have not brought myself to find out what led to her death because I can’t bear to know.

As I stared at this once vibrant and exceptionally loving human being, laying there lifeless, I just thought: “What did you do, what did you do?” And I wanted her to answer me. I wanted her to sit up and say, “just kidding,” because that was her personality — always goofing off and joking, and often making me the butt of the joke. Although I felt I was in a bad dream — this was real, and she was not waking up.

Every day since that day I have thought of her. I have thought about how I failed her as a friend. I hadn’t spoken with her in about two years before her death by suicide, but it wasn’t because I didn’t care about her. I actually talked about her a lot and the people in my life at that time knew who it was when I mentioned her name and what had happened because I had talked about her so much and how wonderful she was. Had she called me and I never returned the call? That was possible. But if she thought I was blowing her off, that could not have been farther from the truth. Life and adulthood just took over. Which leads me to the reason I don’t like Suicide Prevention Day.

While bringing awareness to the topic is a step in the right direction, we need to do more to prevent suicide. We should have a “if you’re feeling suicidal call me day or night and if I don’t answer just keep calling” day. We should have a “I care about you and would never judge you for whatever you need to tell me” day. We should have an “I am always here for you day.” A “my life is not perfect either” day. We need to communicate that to everyone we care about, all of the time. I believe this type of constant communication, in addition to professional help — not a “prevention day” — is really what can help prevent suicide.

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Monica Silva

Originally published: October 27, 2017
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