As suicide rates reach highs that Americans have never known before, researchers are looking to answer the question ‘Why?’. As they look to demographics, trends, the economy, the effects of social media – those of us who suffer and those of us trying to support loved ones are struggling with the more intimate, every day, struggles.
Suicide will always be a part of our lives as humans. We will have to deal with pain. Even though we know suicide affects everyone from the family to the community, we still struggle to find the answers. When does the courage to face life become harder to summon than the courage to face death?
Perhaps it is part of the Depression cycle that one’s mind is overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness and despair despite the efforts of caring loved ones. Perhaps it’s the way we isolate and hide those negative thoughts that leads the inner voice to justify the irreversible action – that the pain is too much to burden the family.
The desperation douses the light at the end of the tunnel – causing us to lose sight of loved ones and resources, making them seem out of reach. Depression, without effective treatment, greatly limits our positivity – stealing our motivation until the smallest step seems like a marathon.
Perhaps it’s our life experience that limits our exposure and ability to identify different styles of managing emotion – leaving us unaware that there may be ways that work better or us. Perhaps it’s our training that teaches us to push through and ignore the pain to accomplish the goal – get back on the field, leave no man behind. Perhaps it is luck and timing that brings us to a place where we can’t catch a break – with mounting pressures at every turn.
Perhaps it’s that we all hit a breaking point with mounting financial pressure, insurmountable grief, excruciating back pain, or maybe we feel broken – left to deal with one more hateful tease or immature bullying attack. Perhaps it’s the perpetual stigma that asking for help is weak – despite all of the examples of greatness and success that come when people have a support system.
There may not be one true answer, but one thing we to tend to agree on is that talking to a trusted loved one, friend or professional is a start. While there remain many barriers such as low motivation, difficulties in knowing how to talk about suicide, limited resources and access to mental health providers, and that stubborn human belief that we have to fix our problem on our own – help is available.
Sorting through what is mounting up for someone is a great first step. We tend to walk alone when we’re feeling hopeless, so the next time someone offers to walk along say yes.