Suicide can be scary. The word alone makes most of our stomachs drop. We learn early on that suicide is a taboo topic to discuss at the dinner table, at work events, in college classes, and with family. Our churches and our schools aren’t the places either. Our silence is making the problem worse; our silence is literally killing our siblings, our parents and grandparents, our spouses, our friends, our children, our peers, the cashier at favorite brick and mortar, the valedictorians of our high schools, and those we pass in our everyday lives whose names we never stop to ask.
I’m a big Astros fan so I put together some stats compared to Minute Maid Park. The Astros’ stadium has a seating capacity of 40,963. In the last year of reportable data (2017):
- 47,173 Americans lost their lives to suicide. That’s more people than who attended one game of the 2017 World Series.
- 1.4M Americans attempted suicide. That’s more than half of the people that attended Astros game the entire World Series season.
- 6.9M people were exposed to a suicide death in just 2017 alone. This is more than five times the seating capacity of all the Major League Baseball stadiums in the US and Canada combined.
We hear about homicides all the time – they are all over our social media outlets and our news feeds. People are outraged, candle light vigils are held, and groups assemble and do something about it. This is amazing work and it needs to continue. In the US, suicide deaths account for nearly 2 ½ xs more deaths than homicides. These numbers are staggering. What if we approached the suicide epidemic with the same passion and dedication that we approached the homicide epidemic with? Both are problems. Both deserve action. Both demand our attention.
What makes talking about suicide hard? Loved ones feel unequipped and unable to hold space for the person experiencing suicidality without (consciously or unconsciously) taking on the responsibility for keeping their loved one alive; mental health professionals don’t receive adequate training to work with suicide and feel under-qualified, incompetent, and in fear of the legal risks. We have to be better. We all want more. Start small. Get trained. Ask questions. Open the conversation. Be present.
#suicidedoesnthavetobelonely #eliminatethestigma #suicideprevention
Dazzi T, Gribble R, Wessely S, Fear NT. Does asking about suicide and related behaviours induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence? Psychol Med 2014;44:3,361-3
If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out. Someone will reach back. Please stay. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life.
You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.