This could be a triggering post for some individuals.
I recently watched 13 Reasons Why. I will not go into the details of my thoughts on that show now, but one thing I noticed about it, is that there was not one mention of therapy or help for people with mental health or substance use disorders.
Some subjects are harder to talk about than others, and this is definitely one of them. I recently found out that someone I grew up with committed suicide. He was always kind of a troubled person and I hadn’t spoken to him in years. His death was still a shock to me because at one point in time, he was my best friend. He shot himself…
We grew up one street away from each other, and went to the same school. We rode the bus together and raced through our neighborhood on bicycles. We would fight a lot as kids, literal fist fights. I was very much a tom boy when I was younger, and we shared a lot of the same interests like motocross computer games and sports. Every Friday after school one of us would walk over to the other one’s house to play. There are many fond memories, and many dark ones as well.
I recently started a new job at a substance use treatment center. As part of my training I had to attend a Youth Mental Health First Aid conference. It was not medical first aid, it was about assisting youth in our establishment, how to talk to them, and how to pick up on signs of specific disorders, especially suicidal behavior. The section on suicide was something that really hit me deep down to my core.
A couple of short clips were played from a documentary about Kevin Hines; a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, survived, and now tells his story in hopes of helping others. It was a very, very powerful message and I strongly suggest anyone to view it, even part of it, even though it is truly difficult to watch with out bursting into tears.
A good friend of mine met me for a drink last night. She seemed a little out of sorts and I later found out that her husband’s best friend, the best man in their wedding, shot himself in the head. She explained to me how hard she tried to think about the signs, and how nothing came to mind that could have possibly seemed like a sign. I then told her something that I learned in the conference, and not a lot of people know that it is a sign. Happiness can be a sign, because the person feels happy knowing they have a plan, and a way out.
I have known three other people in my life time, personally, that have ended their own lives, and it certainly makes you think about your own actions, or lack of. I’ve thought about why I didn’t talk to the neighbor kid anymore. What if I had reached out to him sometime? I know I can’t blame myself, and it had nothing to do with me, I hadn’t spoken to him in years.. But what if I did? Would it have made a difference? Or would it have taken more of a tole on me if I did, and it didn’t make a difference?…
I remember from my training, that the instructor said one of the major ways to help prevent suicide is to talk about it. If you have suspicions about someone, do not be afraid to approach them about it, because it could possibly be what saves them. Even just start with “Are you ok?”. That was the one thing that would have stopped Kevin from jumping off the bridge and could be what stops someone else. Ask the person if they have thought about suicide. Ask them if they have a plan. Listen and ask them if there is something you can do to help them. No matter what the response, remind them you’re there for them.
We can and should all work together, educate each other, and help each other Survive