Adding light to the darkness

Published 6:46 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

Sunday marked the start of National Suicide Prevention Week. This week, thousands of people are speaking up about mental health issues and suicide and how to prevent it.

More than 70,000 people suffer from some sort of anxiety or depression in the United States. Mental health affects Americans both physically and emotionally. It affects how people think, act and feel.

An outsider may not be able to see it, but to the person struggling, it can be crippling.

It’s often hard to talk about. Those struggling may feel alone or that nobody cares about them. They may feel embarrassed to talk about their problems, or like there is no way out of their own struggles. Unfortunately, untreated mental health issues could lead to worst-case scenario — the victim taking his own life.

In North Carolina this year, the second leading cause of death for residents ages 15-35 is suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This means that young people are tragically taking their own lives, and instead of opening doors of opportunity, they are slamming doors shut and throwing away the key.

There is a popular saying, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” and while that is true, the problem does not feel temporary to the victim. The victim may feel like it’s a hopelessness he’ll endure forever.

That’s why it’s important to reach out to those who may be struggling and let them know that what they may be going through is real, but there is hope.

Because mental illness and suicide are often internal struggles, it can be difficult to recognize it in loved ones. It’s important to look out for drastic changes in behavior or the onset of new behaviors. This is especially alarming if the behaviors follow a traumatizing event, such as the death of a loved one or divorce/break-up. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention listed some warning signs for suicide as:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression

It’s always heart breaking when one decides his life is too difficult to bear, but what is even more heart breaking is that it can be prevented.

Let National Suicide Prevention Week be the time to finally talk about mental health and suicide with those around you. One may never know who is struggling, and simple words of love and kindness could be enough to save a life of someone hovering on the edge.