Did you know that the month of September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month? If you didn't... September was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
But suicide is something to be aware of more than just once a year. Maybe you don't struggle with suicidal ideations every day, but some people do. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 44,193 people complete suicide each year.
Here's a breakdown:
Average suicides per day: 121 people
In 2015, the highest rates of suicide were found in adults between the ages of 45 and 64.
In 2016, the NY Times reported that suicide rates had reached an all-time high. Among the most alarming? The rate of suicide among girls ages 10 - 14 has nearly tripled.
Suicide impacts every age group and every demographic, not just those highlighted above. To this day, suicide carries the stigma of failure, weakness, or selfishness. In some cultures, suicide was (or is) the expected course of action if one brings shame or failure to the family (the Japanese tradition is referred to as seppuku). Often, failure and shame are two key obstacles that those suffering from suicidal ideations are facing. Suffering from.
This year, we've lost incredible people to suicide (we do every year), but whether they were a famous person or not, the loss matters. They matter. They mattered and they didn't feel like that did, and that's where we have a problem. When the idea that death feels better than the life we are currently living comes into our head, it's likely a last resort. The pain and frustration of a situation, an illness, or a feeling, can be insufferable. Suicide isn't the answer we want someone to choose, but it is an answer - that isn't the problem. The problem is we are not offering better answers.
Mental illness is a term you're likely to hear more of in the years to come. The following numbers are global estimates from the World Health Organization:
300 million people suffer from depression.
60 million people suffer from bipolar disorder.
21 million suffer from schizophrenia.
47.5 million suffer from dementia.
You can't see what's going on in someone's head. Often, unless they are in tears before you, you wouldn't even know they are hurting. It's easy to write someone's pain off as weakness. You'd handle it better, right? Sometimes there's a pain that doesn't let go. Sometimes the anxiety is too loud. Maybe you've never felt the crippling hand of depression hold tight the bell jar you're under.
But if you can remember that there are people in the world that are trapped in some stale air, maybe you can help them escape. At the very least, start to crack the surface.
If you are someone who feels trapped or overwhelmed, you aren't alone. You don't have to carry it alone.
Crisis Text Line: 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Find help: 211.org