After working on this blog for nearly five years, I understand how difficult conversations about mental health can be. There’s a level of nuance that must be applied to these conversations. Everyone is unique, which means that the way we handle certain issues and problems is also unique. That’s why, even though they can be difficult, conversations about suicide prevention are important – and each one of us can help.
Every year during this month, I note that suicide is a public health issue. I don’t say that to sound any alarm bells or cause a panic. But the thing is, this issue has been slowly growing for decades. Ignoring the issues hasn’t helped; instead, the topic becomes even harder for us to talk about. But it’s exactly what we need to do.
I guess the crux of my post today is to pose the question: can we have conversations about sensitive topics? Not only do I think we can, but I also think it’s necessary. According to the CDC,
“Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. There are many factors that contribute to suicide. The goal of suicide prevention is to reduce factors that increase risk and increase factors that promote resilience.” – CDC
This quote sums up the goal of suicide prevention pretty well. There are so many factors that can increase the risk that we never even think about existing in our lives, and they need to shared now. We can’t take a reactive approach to suicide prevention. We need to be proactive, to have conversations with people sooner rather than later.
I get a sense of urgency around these topics because I often feel the shame, discomfort and embarrassment people have around this topic. And it makes sense. Suicide/suicide prevention is not easy to talk about. It can also have lasting effects on so many individuals. If suicide has impacted us at some point in our lives, there’s a chance we haven’t reconciled with that yet.
But I guess, to bring this all home, my point is that these conversations are worthwhile. It may feel uncomfortable, but these our conversations that we need to have more. We need to go beyond giving someone a phone number and leaving it at that. Millions of people need help and deserve care, and there must be something more we can offer. A lot of the time, it starts with a conversation. And that can make all the difference.
There are many ways we can improve suicide prevention, and one of the most important ways is how we talk about it. A lot of the time, the most difficult conversations are often the most rewarding. So I’m sending strength and hope to anyone who is hoping to learn more this month. Together, we can grow stronger in the fight against suicide.