When someone commits suicide, opinions begin to flood in. Opinions like “they deserved better” or “they took the easy way out.” The decision a person makes to take their life in no way should be considered easy. There are many words to describe that situation, but easy would not be on the list.
People often try to blame suicide on something; it could be on society, on other people or on themselves. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who or what you blame — the rising suicide rate makes it clear this is not the end. The way to start raising awareness for suicide is to stop assigning blame, and start to get to the root of the problem, which is mental health.
The fact of the matter is, mental health needs to be discussed more. We’ve all heard the sayings before: “End the Stigma!” But how do we really do that? It’s been turned into a cliche; it’s become “trendy” to be mentally ill. Depression has become an adjective instead of a condition. Anxiety has become a fad instead of an illness. This causes a ripple effect. The stigma surrounding mental illness worsens and people begin to feel isolated from the rest of society. In many cases, this may result in suicide.
More often than not, people commit suicide because they are mentally ill. While this is not always the case, mental illnesses typically play a large factor. Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, people suffer in silence.
They take the pain, put it in a safe and they throw away the key. They don’t want anyone to see it. In actuality, if we discussed how we were feeling in a truthful way, people would start to feel less alone. If people felt less alone, they would be less likely to commit suicide, as they would realize that what they are going through isn’t uncommon.
Suicide is often swept under the rug. I argue this because people consider it to be an uncomfortable topic. On some levels, it is. It can be a hard topic to discuss because you never know what others have experienced.
However, I think regardless of this discomfort, it’s an imperative conversation to have. It’s necessary to talk about the truth of the matter. In reality, it’s everywhere. It’s on the news. It’s on social media. It’s in your town.
People seem to be afraid of the idea of suicide. They act as if talking about it would only offend someone; however, this is how lives are saved. You save lives by talking about suicide. You save lives by acknowledging mental illnesses. Communication can save lives. It’s going to sound awfully cliche to say that a smile can save someone’s life, but it’s true. If you express to people that you care, you provide a sense of hope. Even if it only lasts for a fraction of a second, it can still alter somebody’s day. It can still alter somebody’s life.
This shift that society must make isn’t going to happen overnight.
It is an extremely daunting task to read about something like this and then to be left with just your thoughts. I think the most important thing to remember is to start small. Start with your yourself. Check in with yourself. Then, check in with friends, family, or anyone else that. This way, we can begin to start a new ripple effect.
Julia Guidi can be contacted