The presence of the stigma surrounding seeking help for depressive and suicidal thoughts is undeniable, so let’s start a conversation.
America, we need to have a conversation. A growing number of people are unable to cope with the stressful society that we have created. Suicide is a depressing topic, but one that desperately needs to be part of our fight for a better world.
I remember the first time I encountered the idea of suicide; it was after a friend ingested a countless number of pills in middle school. The pain I felt seemed unbearable, but I could only imagine how she had to feel in order to want to leave us. I felt like a bad friend, but it took years for me to reach a realization: suicide is not an escape for the weak, but the last resort for those tired of being strong.
Look at the suicide statistics
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents, and the tenth among adults, putting it in the same category as cancer, car accidents, and Alzheimer’s disease. Risk factors for suicide include mental illness, substance-abuse disorders, and external stressors, including violence, abuse, and academic pressure.
It is estimated that in the United States, a person attempts suicide every 38 seconds.
The statistics are shocking among college students; 1 in 10 students have made a plan for suicide, and more than 1,000 attempts lead to death on college campuses every year.
The suicide rate is increasing, at approximately 125 times the rate it has grown in the past 10 years.
Stigmas Are Dangerous And Deadly
Most mental health professionals can not agree on the cause of the increase in suicides and attempts, but they can agree that there is a serious shortage of psychologists and therapists, psychiatrists, and people going to these professionals.
The presence of the stigma surrounding seeking help for depressive and suicidal thoughts is undeniable, making going to a therapist or doctor an impossible thought for those suffering. Unfortunately, conversations about suicide only occur after a death, and dissipate soon thereafter, with the occasional posting of the National Suicide Hotline number.
The way that the media portrays those suffering from mental illnesses is a hinderance to a mental health breakthrough. The 2016 film Split, for example, depicts a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder as a kidnapper and abuser.
Although mental illness is not the only cause of suicide, the stigma around it is just one example of the way that issues such as sexual assault, sexual identity and orientation, and the stresses of school and puberty are skewed in order to serve a bias that prevents those in pain from seeking help.
Those who suffer need encouragement
I know it can be discouraging to be hurting but to feel unable to seek help, but understand this — there is no shame in seeking help. You are needed in this world, and your full potential can not be reached until you first take care of your mind. The capacity to change the world that you are harboring inside of you has always been there and will always be there. Take the time to take care of yourself. The school will always be there. Your dreams will always be there. The opportunity to make yourself a priority and seek help, unfortunately, may not always be there. Be patient with yourself. We can not stand to lose even more lives to suicide. There are people willing to listen and help; gravitate towards those positive people. If they seem unable to find, there are online resources.
If you are a college student, go to the counseling centers that are already paid for through your tuition and fees. The counselors want to help, and they will not judge you for needing help. If nothing else, understand this: you can never be replaced, you are special, and our distressed world can be turned into an environment conducive to healing and soaring with your help.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
This article was dedicated to the three beings that I had the honor of meeting and the struggle of losing them to America’s unspoken epidemic — your presence in this world and, now, your absence has started a fire in me that I refuse to let fade. Thank you for lending your amazing souls to the world that did not deserve you. I am so sorry that we could not turn our distressed world into an environment conducive to your healing and soar.