By Daisy Jasmine, Staff Writer
Content warning: This article focuses on the topics of suicide and depression. Please exercise self-care and discretion if you feel that reading may cause you undue distress.
With the start of October, National Suicide Prevention Awareness month has drawn to a close. However, suicides don’t only happen in September—people struggle with depression year-round, and we do a vast disservice to them to only acknowledge the issue during its official month. It’s vital that we keep a conversation going year-round about mental health and helping those who are struggling. It’s difficult to think about, let alone talk about—but for someone who’s dealing with those thoughts, it could make all the difference to hear that they aren’t alone. (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
Everyone can cite somebody who’s left a hole in the world by committing suicide—even if it’s not somebody you knew personally, everyone felt the loss of Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, and Heath Ledger. This reporter lost a family member just last month, who left behind a wife and young children. When a person commits suicide, the end of his or her life shakes the core of countless others—spouses, children, parents, family, and friends are left behind with a sense of guilt not created by other causes of death. The grief and depression faced by those left behind exacerbates the feeling that they were somehow to blame. As has been discussed lately in sources such as the Scientific American, suicide can feel “contagious,” leading to an increase in attempts. If a suicide has occurred recently in the public eye or among someone’s friends and loved ones, it is important to be open about your grief and seek help if you feel your own mental health is at risk.
In the age of social media, there is the heightened risk incurred by cyber bullying and the overall juxtaposition of hyper-connectivity and isolation. Someone who is struggling with depression and primarily keeping tabs on the world through social media, even if they are not being actively targeted, may see the carefully curated feed of only people’s best, most photogenic experiences and feel deeply alone in their pain. Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” has come under fire for romanticizing suicide and depicting it as an option to teens and young adults who are already dealing with pain and mental illness.
While shows such as “13 Reasons Why” have created some additional risk by appearing to glorify the act of suicide, speaking about it with sensitivity and empathy does not inherently put people at a greater risk; creating an open and nonjudgmental setting to discuss it can greatly help people feel supported and realize that there are other options.
If someone you know and love is struggling, give them a safe space to open up to you about their pain. For the sake of the person you hope to help, be direct but kind. Do not be afraid to ask about suicide specifically; however, also focus on their feelings and finding out how you can help them. Most importantly, once the question has been asked, give them your full attention and listen without arguing. Do not promise to keep someone’s suicidal intentions a secret—if they make a concrete plan and begin to move forward with it, it is your responsibility to intervene by calling emergency services. (BeThe1To)
If you are unsure if someone you know is at risk, it is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of suicide and depression. The Mental Health America Depression Test and other online resources offer brief, simple self-assessments of depression symptoms. These are a useful starting point to help someone identify their symptoms and begin a conversation with a doctor or other health professional.
If you are dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not alone and there are so many people who will be there for you if you ask for help. Exercise good self-care and know to forgive yourself if there are things you need to avoid.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, here is a list of help lines to call or text.
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Trevor Project (LGBTQ youth): 1-866-488-7386
- ASU Counseling Services:
- Tempe: 480-965-6146
- Downtown: 602-496-1155
- Polytechnic: 480-727-1255
- West: 602-543-8125
- 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 480-921-1006
By Text or Chat
- Suicide Prevention Hotline: http://chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx
- Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/ (Text NAMI to 741-741)
International Help Resource:
- International Association for Suicide Prevention: https://www.iasp.info/
If you have reason to believe that you or someone else are in immediate danger or in need of medical assistance, call 911 or your country’s emergency number immediately.