Ahhh, fall. The crisp mornings and changing foliage set against a backdrop of blue skies are signs that we’re back to school, fall sports and harvest time. There’s much to look forward to and yet, as we commemorate Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September, we realize that there are many people who are no longer here to enjoy it.
Many people of all ages and backgrounds have given up, choosing a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide takes too many lives and I want to change that in our community by educating as many people as possible to understand signs and symptoms of mental health issues and suicide risk.
Through the work that we do, meeting families who have lost loved ones to suicide to provide support and resources through the Licking County Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide (LOSS) Team, I often hear people say things like, “I never dreamed he’d do this” or “A heads up would have been nice.” Survivors are often blindsided by someone they thought they knew and understood doing this unexpected thing that can never be undone. Often there are signs when someone is contemplating suicide including:
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide.
- Threatening to hurt or kill themselves.
- Looking for ways to kill themselves or seeking access to means.
- Feeling no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
- Feeling trapped, like there is no way out of a bad situation.
- Giving away favorite belongings.
Please read and share these signs of suicide that may indicate that someone is thinking of ending their life. Even if they say they’re not considering suicide, leading with, “I care about you and don’t want to lose you. You are important and if you need support, I ‘m here to help you find it,” could open a conversation that can only make someone feel valued and hopeful. Hope is a powerful thing that can change the trajectory of someone’s life.
Retired Ohio State University football player Harry Miller recently wrote on the first anniversary of the day he told Coach Ryan Day that he wanted to die by suicide, “On a day I did not think I would see, I am still here. It was a year of hurt but gratitude, suffering yet appreciation. Love is the lesson. Pain is the teacher. Sometimes (most of the times), hope is as small as holding on for five minutes when you think you only have strength for four, and you really only have strength for three. And a year is just five minutes several times over.”
We have a resource card at Mental Health America of Licking County with the word “HOPE” spelling out “Hold On, Pain Ends.” Be there for someone who is in pain who needs the strength to hold on for five minutes several times over.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free services 24/7. Call 9-8-8, 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org Locally call 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898211, Licking County’s 24/7 resource line.
Penny Sitler is Executive Director of Mental Health America of Licking County.
Printed in the Newark Advocate on September 30, 2022.