Sitler: Despite suicides, there is hope

penny sitler

The past few weeks have been full of disturbing events close to our home in Licking County. As I’ve mentioned in past articles, MHA facilitates our Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team and we have been much too busy so far in 2018.

Multiple young people in their 20’s from several Licking County communities have taken their own lives since the new year began. Any suicides are too many, but to lose so many in such a short time, whether we knew the young people or not, leaves us all with a terrible sadness and sense of regret.

Several of the families who have lost sons have been utterly open in disclosing how they died, acknowledging the pain that depression caused, and asking others to pay attention to those around them and find ways to help someone who suffers from mental illness. One obituary includes the stigma fighting words, “Depression is all-consuming and it’s okay to recognize and discuss the significant impacts and realities.” It goes on to encourage people to show kindness to others they recognize as suffering and to ask for help for themselves when they need it. We know that on average people wait ten years from onset of symptoms of mental illness until they are diagnosed. If we could get people in for assessments in the very early stages of a mental disorder rather than waiting such a long time, imagine the improved outcomes those people would experience.

The Licking Valley community convened a vigil to celebrate the lives of three graduates in their 20’s who took their lives within a four-day period. The purpose of the vigil was to give people an opportunity to mourn and to speak out about the precious lives lost too early. People often need a chance to express their feelings after such tragedy and they need to feel a sense of community as they come to terms with what has happened. Kudos to Licking Valley schools and those who organized the vigil for giving people that safe place to be a part of something larger than themselves. I also applaud them for allowing those of us in the mental health world to provide resources to those in attendance.

If you know someone who seems to need a friend, someone who has become isolated or quit participating in normal activities, or someone who is giving away favorite items, reach out. Ask how you can help. Let them know what you’ve noticed and offer to find resources for them. Call 2-1-1 with them on speaker phone, explain what you’re noticing ask what your next step should be. Text this message: Text 4hope to 741741, the Crisis Text Line, for free confidential 24/7 support. Don’t walk on by. Be that friend you would want someone to be for you.

Found in The Newark Advocate March 4, 2018

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