This may very easily be the realest blog I’ve ever written…
Today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is a topic that hits entirely too close to home for me, for a number of reasons. I’ve lost more people than I care to admit as a result of suicide – perhaps the most mind-blowing being my own high school principal. That hit hard, not only for myself and fellow students, but for all the staff and the counselors (who were severely overwhelmed for that week and beyond). A good friend of mine lost her ex-boyfriend (whom she was still quite close with) to suicide, and it still haunts her to this day. Those things don’t just fade away.
What very few people know is that I was close to being a statistic myself. Back in high school, the thought had crossed my mind. Blame it on drugs. Blame it on being around the wrong crowd of people. Blame it on being a dumb teenager. Either way, it was a position that I, and I alone, put myself into. I was fortunate enough to have one specific friend who I was able to open up and talk to about how I was feeling about life and everything going on in it. She listened to me. Not just heard what I said, but truly LISTENED. While I don’t remember the full context of our conversation, her words put things into perspective for me, and changed my mind. She ended up being a bit shady towards some other friends of mine down the line, but for that one conversation alone, I owe her infinitely. Thank you, Kelly.
In 2011, it was estimated that on average, nearly 1 million people per year die via suicide. This averages to 1 death per 40 seconds, and 3000 per day. For every one individual who successfully takes their life, nearly 20 others try but don’t succeed. Run those numbers through your head, and it comes out to an attempt every 3 seconds. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for people ages 15 through 24. It’s the 13th leading cause of death worldwide, and accounts for almost half of all violent deaths. Related, over 120 million suffer from depression, 2/3 of whom never seek treatment.
Death by suicide is expected to increase to a rate of 1.5 million (1 per 20 seconds) by the year 2020 unless awareness increases and we can encourage people to reach out.
I love and care deeply for my friends and my family, and I can’t emphasize enough how important life is. If you’re reading this, even if you’ve never met me and don’t know me at all, and these words and figures touch you and encourage you to reach out – either as a supporter or as someone who is suffering (I refuse to use the term “victim” – you’re not a victim if you’re still alive), then I’ve done my job.
Below are some phone numbers that are available for outreach. I’ve seen many resource numbers through many different posts in social media today – the ones I’m listing below are just a handful of those, and all are toll-free numbers.
Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
Rape and Sexual Assault Support: 1-800-656-4673
Exhale (After-abortion hotline): 1-866-439-4253
“One life. One chance. Gotta do it right.” (H2O)