It Gets Better
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. A day reserved for raising awareness, sharing resources and letting everyone know there are alternatives, success stories and reasons to live.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list suicide as the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States. It ranks second among those ages 10 to 34 and LGBTQ youth contemplate suicide at three times the rate of their straight, cis-gendered peers. Suicide rates have been rising in the U.S. for two decades, and the pandemic is causing those rates to rise even more.
But we can help. We can recognize the signs and risk factors and respond.
Don’t discount people’s feelings. Remember if something feels like a big deal to someone, it’s a big deal–no matter how you perceive it.
Be a good listener–not a quick fixer. Be patient and empathetic. Avoid offering simplistic solutions, platitiudes or quick fixes. Such attempts might come off as insensitive and seem to trivialize what a person is experiencing. Be present to what the person is saying and feeling and affirm their right to feel that way.
Encourage people to get help. Just because there are no quick fixes, it doesn’t mean that help is not available. Getting professional mental healthcare at the first signs of depression is one of the best way to prevent suicide. The good news is that there is less and less of a stigma attached to seeking mental health care–especially among the younger generation.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Talking about suicide does not cause it. If you are concerned about someone, ask them if they are having suicidal thoughts. If you feel they are in immediate danger, do not leave them alone until you can secure help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 800-273-8255. They can not only help in an emergency situation, but help you connect with resources in your area.
If you are struggling with depression and feelings of despair, know that you are not alone. This is an incredibly difficult time, and you are doing an amazing job of getting through it. Trust me. You are.
If you’re feeling like you’re not good enough or strong enough or smart enough right now, take some time with Doubting Believer’s Ten Reasons Why You are Lovable and Capable. It’s a free mini-course to remind you of who you are and Whose you are.
On this day focused on suicide prevention, keep listening to and loving others. Validate their feelings and make sure they know that help is available. Know that you are loved beyond measure and stronger than you realize. And always remind yourself that no matter how bad things seem, it won’t always be this way. It really does get better.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.