I’ve written before that one of the topics I’ve learned most about in the four years I’ve done this blog is suicide prevention. As we reach the end of Suicide Prevention Month, I try to take time to reflect on what I’ve learned this month and how that helps my work in suicide prevention going forward. After my research this month, I’ve been able to connect more dots in regards to suicide prevention. Whether it’s calling attention to mental health or naming the connection between marginalized communities and a higher risk of suicide, I’ve learned that suicide prevention looks like a lot more nuanced than we think.
If there was one thing I wish people talked more about when we discuss mental health, it’s how nuanced the topic can be. It’s not always as inspirational or fun to talk about, but mental health is about so much more than ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ (though that is an important part of outreach and starting conversations!).
After this month, I’ve started to notice that this same attitude can creep into suicide prevention work – often in an unhelpful way. There is so much nuance and complexity when it comes to the topic of the suicide, and it’s often reduced to nothing more than sharing the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and encouraging someone to reach out. That’s not to say that aspect of outreach is valuable – it’s extremely important and has helped many people – but it’s just to note that suicide prevention advocacy goes much further than that.
One of the ways that I participate in suicide prevention advocacy is by walking in the Out of the Darkness Walks held by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Every year, hundreds of these walks are held in towns and cities around the United States to raise awareness and funds that go toward the cause of suicide prevention.
But that’s just one of the many, many ways you can get involved in suicide prevention work. Suicide prevention takes a collective effort, and things get better when there’s a community behind them. Going forward, I’d encourage you to look a little deeper when it comes to topics like suicide prevention. This isn’t just a topic that should be discussed one month out of the year, and we can’t afford to let it stay that way if we want to improve our advocacy about suicide prevention.
There are millions (if not billions) of people who would benefit from resources and information – even just a little reassurance that they’re not alone. We are all stronger together, and that’s what we need learn and remember as we continue to fight against suicide.
P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about my walk or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, feel free to check out my fundraising page!
Now, over to you! What types of things do you think are effective for suicide prevention? Is there anything new you learned this month that you’ll try to use moving forward? Let me know in the comments!