Every year when I reach the end of Suicide Prevention Month, I take time to reflect on what I’ve learned this month and how that helps my work in suicide prevention going forward. Some years I learn more than others but either way, September is a valuable month of awareness and reflection. While there’s so much that’s being done in the way of suicide prevention, this month is also a reminder that there’s more work to do.
For a long time, I viewed suicide prevention in a vacuum. The most important part of suicide prevention was having a conversation and for a long time, it didn’t go much further than there. But as I alluded to last year, the past few years have helped me connect the dots in regards to suicide and suicide prevention. The conclusion is similar to the one I reached last year, but it’s worth repeating now:
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.Closing Out Suicide Prevention Month 2021
As I write every single year, suicide prevention looks like so much more than we think. Most of the time, we talk about suicide prevention as reaching out and having conversations. We share resources and phone numbers, making sure people have access to things they need. But suicide prevention looks like so much more than outreach.
Stable housing is suicide prevention. Affordable healthcare is suicide prevention. Making sure people have access to the resources they need to live in this world – you can call this a lot of things, but it is also suicide prevention. The more connections we make from suicide prevention to other aspects of life, the more people can see the ways that everything is linked.
Whether your approach to advocacy is specific or broad, there are many ways to get involved. For example, one of the best ways that I spread awareness about suicide prevention is by walking in Out of the Darkness Walks. Held every year by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 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 this is just one way of getting involved in this work. I really appreciate the work the AFSP does for suicide prevention, and the organization is worth checking out in you’re interested in advocacy. But the fight against suicide is an ongoing battle that we should always be aware of. It involves having not just one conversation, but many conversations — about mental health, about stigmas, about shame, about all the ways that this conversation is connected to our every day lives.
We need to talk about the way suicide is discussed in our society, and we need to shine a spotlight on the fact that it is a public health crisis, and has been for years. We are stronger together, especially in this work. As this month closes out, I encourage anyone reading this to explore what they can do to continue fighting against suicide year-round. Whether it’s raising your voice or providing support for others, everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention.
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 is something new you learned this month about suicide prevention? Let me know in the comments below!