September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I have been seeing a lot of blog posts around the internet about it, seeing people talk about friends that have passed, and making people aware at how insidious and prevalent mental disorders are, and the suicides that result that are either surprises, or swept under the rug, stigmatized and forgotten. That’s the part that bothers me the most, the stigma that makes those left behind embarrassed to admit what happened. There’s more than a little guilt involved, I know, but the fact that people feel embarrassed about it in a way that makes them not admit that someone fell victim to a mental illness is in itself tragic. My grandfather passed away almost 13 years ago from cancer. My cousin died recently due to a mysterious reaction to jumping into really cold ocean water. Neither of those circumstances paint my family in any sort of negative light, why should the result of mental illness?
It’s also that stigma that prevents some people from admitting that someone might need some help, or is at risk. One statistic I saw says that one-in-five can have mental illnesses that can potentially lead to suicidal risk. So out of the people sitting on my side of the office, two or three people could be at risk. One of my friends has lost two people within the past year or so to suicide. Most times people don’t see it coming, in my experience most people become very adept in concealing the demons inside, as was made evident by another friend who lost someone that seemed outwardly very happy, gregarious, and doing a-ok.
In fact, one leading warning sign is often misunderstood. When someone is particularly depressed, and them seems to suddenly snap out of it, that can in itself be a warning sign, because that can be caused by someone having decided that they will end it all, and that can bring a sense of calm and finality.
So please take a little time and read about the warning signs, and maybe you can help prevent it from happening to someone you care about. You never really know…