For many, September is an ordinary month where we all go back to school and jump into the new season. However, there is a deeper meaning behind the month and what it stands for. The month of September is known widely as Suicide Prevention Month.
Suicide has taken its place as the second leading killer for those aged 15 to 24. This alarming statistic is one of the main reasons why bringing awareness to suicide prevention is so important.
Of course, suicide prevention is an issue that should be advocated year long, but having an entire month dedicated to it emphasizes its importance.
“It’s a hard subject for many to talk about,” Stephanie Walker said, the chairperson for the Southwest Michigan chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “So having this time frame set aside to encourage people to talk about, and advocate for suicide prevention is critical.”
This month, there are countless opportunities for people to get involved in bringing awareness to suicide. One such event is the Out of the Darkness walk at Celery Flats.
This event is a 5K walk hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser, bringing in millions of dollars in donations nationally.
Events like these help bring together survivors of suicide to promote healthy conversations and eliminate the stigma that surrounds suicide.
This mental health and suicide stigma keeps many people from speaking out about their experiences. One of the main goals of organizations this month is to help people feel more comfortable with conversations regarding suicide.
The most efficient way to do this is admitting that mental health is not embarrassing. When a few people start talking, more and more people feel comfortable speaking about their own experiences.
“Many people don’t know that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide,” Walker said. “It is not something to be embarrassed about. The more people share their experiences, the less alone people will feel.”
Suicide is an intimidating topic, especially for high school students who fear that speaking out makes them a target for bullying. It’s essential that teachers and parents help form safe environments so that students feel comfortable speaking about their feelings.
A common misconception is that mentioning suicide to people who are suicidal can make their feelings worse. However, Walker says that this is not exactly the case and that talking can save lives.
The most important message that organizations spread this month is the importance of reaching out. Countless people share similar experiences, and there are numerous people out there willing to help. Resources like the Suicide Prevention Lifeline are extremely helpful for those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
“The most important thing I’d like to share with someone struggling with suicidal thoughts is that you are not alone,” Walker said. “Reach out to family and friends, and find a safe place to talk.”
Photo Credits: Hope Line