September 9th marked the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week and was, unfortunately, missed by many. But those of us who has experienced the tragedy of that kind of loss and who have suffered though that internal battle, more than recognized the event.
Statistics show that 2 out of every 3 people ages 15-24 are struggling with depression and not getting help. Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide and, among this age group, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. Reading these statistics can be hard and to some they may just be numbers on a page.
But to others – others like me – those numbers are a haunting reality.
On September 22nd, 2012, I lost my best friend to heart failure. His brother, who was a brother to me as well, struggled more than anyone with the news. His battle with depression got darker, leading to his alcohol abuse in the months directly following his brother’s death. In April of 2013, he drank himself into a stupor leading to alcohol poisoning. Luckily, his life was saved. After that day he vowed that he would be a better person and swore he would stop drinking. A month later, on May 22nd, his fiancé found him dead in his brother’s room, holding onto his picture. He had taken the rest of his brother’s 25 leftover painkillers with a bottle of whiskey.
He wasn’t the first loved one that I had lost to suicide. Since 2007, I have known, cared for, and loved a total of 9 people, who took their own lives. This number is far too high. This number should be 0.
Our society is not one that advocates true help. Our society advocates a chemical fix. There is a pill to “fix” anything, including depression. But is it a fix at all? One of the side effects of depression medication is suicidal thoughts and actions. It seems to me that we may be wasting our time trying to go for the quick fix. I think it’s time to dive deeper.
To Write Love on Her Arms, is an organization that started in March of 2006. It began with a story, much like mine, of self-harm and the need to overcome it. It is now one of the biggest non-profit organizations in America. The goal: “to present hope for people struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, and thoughts of suicide while also investing directly into treatment and recovery.”
This week, awareness was raised for many, but we can’t stop there. Every day it is important to know:
“You cannot be replaced.”
People need to come together and support one-another. People need to have a confidant to lean on when times get hard. People need to stop being afraid of judgment and communicate. Admittance of a problem is the first step to recovery.
“Help is real. Hope is real. Your story is important.”
So talk about it.