I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what suicide prevention actually looks like. How do we, as a society, prevent suicide from happening?
Sounds like a difficult question to answer, but it’s not.
Often, people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness. Not only does a profound darkness eat at them from the inside, but sometimes, the person suffering isn’t even aware of what’s happening inside of them. They feel like something’s wrong but they don’t know what. They try to express how they are feeling and are instantly shut down.
Boys are told to suck it up.
Girls are asked to be less dramatic.
If these children have parents who are willing to listen and support them instead of shutting them down, they might be taken to a psychologist and diagnosed.
Their therapist and parents will tell them it’s okay that their brains work differently than other people’s brains. But society will tell them otherwise.
Friends, peers, relatives or teachers might say something insensitive and suddenly they feel unsafe. They begin to retreat and isolate. They don’t want anyone to see the pain they’re experiencing so they put on a brave face. They stop seeing their therapist. They convince their parents that they are better. They stop taking their medication. But behind closed doors, they crumble. They suffer, all alone, in silence.
Until one day the pain becomes unbearable. They no longer see a light beyond the darkness. All they’ve ever wanted is for their pain to stop and one day, they become convinced that suicide is the only way to end their pain. So they kill themselves.
People around them act shocked. They are devastated. They say they didn’t see it coming; that they couldn’t have prevented it.
But WE could have prevented it.