Sometime last year, I wrote about the post-vacation blues. I’d just gotten home from a trip to Texas and even though I go there every year (sometimes more than one), I was particularly down. Fast forward to this week: I once again visited Texas, and when I returned from my trip I felt a little bummed out. There were two key differences here, though. The first difference is that I was in Texas for my twin brother’s bachelor party (!!!), which of course is something I’ve waited my entire life for (being a twin). The second difference is that this time, while I am a little bummed out, it didn’t hit me as hard this week as it did then. And I’d like to expand on that second difference.
As I said on Tuesday, this will be a difficult week. One of the things about a difficult week is that even though it’s a lot to handle because of one specific thing, the world doesn’t stop spinning. I’m not saying the world moves on, but other things happen during that week that demand our attention.
When I wrote my post last week about the impact and influence we have on other people, it was inspired by the recent passing of a man, a former basketball coach who worked with my father. His influence and impact on the game, and on so many people, is immeasurable, and so much of what I know was learned by coaches who learned from him – about the game and about life. The funeral was yesterday, so I knew this week would be difficult regardless. And then I heard about Kobe.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the word ‘influence’ this week and what it means to me. That word gets tossed around all the time now because of the term ‘influencer’ but honestly, the reason an influencer goes by that term is accurate. If an Instagram influencer posts about an ad or a product, they’re doing so because that company recognizes their influence and knows that what they say matters to tons of people. And while not everyone might have an audience of thousands or millions hanging on to our every word, we all have some sort of influence on others. But the thing is, we don’t always know in what way.
I’m heading on a trip everybody! This week I am leaving to visit a close friend of mine who currently lives in Spain, and I am extremely excited to experience a new place and culture. I’ve written about my travels before and I will continue in the future, but in mentioning my trip to a few people I heard a few things that got me thinking. After telling a co-worker about my trip, she lamented on all the trips she could have gone on but either wasn’t able to or chose not to which, I mean, is life. But it did get me thinking about the reasons I don’t do certain things, and whether or not they’re as valid as I make them out to be.
Last week, I was fortunate to participate in an Out of the Darkness Community Walk, one of the hundreds that are around the country every year by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is the third year that I’ve been able to participate and fundraise for the AFSP, and every year I end up becoming stronger and more inspired by this event as it continues to shine a spotlight on bringing together thousands of people in the local area who are affected in some way by suicide.
As we reached the end of Suicide Prevention Month, I thought long and hard about what I could write here, and to be honest I was coming up empty. You’ve seen the statistics – we know this is a major issue not only in our country but around the world. We know there are so many different resources we can turn to for help not only when we’re in a crisis, but just when we are struggling and need some help. Because even though you or I might not be experts on suicide prevention, we know where those experts are and how we can connect with them.
I guess the only real thought I had, that I thought was worth sharing here, is that even though the month is over the fight will go on. People and organizations around the world will continue to work to fight against suicide, and we should everything we can to help.
Two years ago I discovered Out of the Darkness Community Walks, which are events hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Each fall, hundreds of these walks are held in towns and cities all around the country with the intention to raise awareness and funds to the cause of suicide and suicide prevention.
When I went to my first walk two years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. And I was blown away. Now it’s an event close to my heart, and I walk in the D.C. walk every year (this year’s walk will be held on November 2nd – see my fundraising page for more information!). But there are so many organizations out there fighting suicide, not just the AFSP, and I’d encourage you to look and see where you could provide an impact.
I hope you can find your own way to help, whether it’s by volunteering time or money to an organization, or just taking a minute to check in with someone in your life. Because even the smallest outreach can have the largest impact, and you never know how you can help someone. This is a complicated issue, but an issue worth facing. Because the fight against suicide will continue, and we can’t give up now.
TW: This post discusses suicide.
Every year that I’ve done this blog, I’ve written about Suicide Prevention Month. Personally, it’s never easy to write, but the information is so necessary that I feel I’d be misleading you by not writing about it. Because it’s not enough to be aware that suicide is widespread in this country – we have to do more than that. But how?
If you think this issue is going away, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States. It is the second-leading cause of death among individuals in the 10-14, 15-24, and 25-34 age groups. It is the fourth-leading cause of death among individuals in the 35-44 and 45-54 age groups. The AFSP reported that in 2017, there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts, and 4.3% of all adults in the United States admitted to having suicidal thoughts at some point that year.
But this month is not just about bringing awareness to the prevalence of suicide but educating people on how to prevent it. There are tons of resources available from organizations and advocacy groups that discuss how we can work to prevent suicide and while they’re available year-round, Suicide Prevention Month provides some time to specifically discuss suicide prevention and the best ways to approach it. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the CDC all have pages dedicated not only to suicide prevention but to this month especially.
Next week (September 8-14) is National Suicide Prevention Week and during the week is World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10). There’s plenty more to add to the discussion that will continue as the month goes on whether you’re going to #BeThe1To or talk about #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree, but I do want to leave you with this. When it comes to the topic of suicide, asking for help is not easy. Neither is trying to help those who are struggling. But we have to keep fighting – and there’s plenty to fight for.
On this blog, I feel like I’ve done a good job of telling a bit of my story and my experience living with mental illness. It is something I will continue to do, and I’m excited about some of the upcoming content I’m prepping, but I come to you today with a different question in mind. Continue reading