No one is immune. We all know of, or have heard of someone in our community, who has taken their own life. Suicides among the military are on the rise for the first half of this year. And it is the third leading cause of death among people age 15-24. It is a crisis that can and must be taken seriously.
The events leading up to suicide are widespread and vary from individual to individual. Feeling overwhelmed by life’s circumstances can easily cause feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. When one is without hope, it impedes rational thinking. One cannot see beyond the pain they are experiencing. Isolation and the decision to keep their feelings to themselves rather than reach out for help only exacerbate the situation. It is imperative to be aware of some of the warning signs of suicide: isolation; being bullied; feelings of despair and/or depression; alcohol or substance abuse; talking about ending one’s life; obsessive thoughts of death and dying; giving away of personal possessions.
How can we help? There is no greater pain than to be rejected; to feel unloved or devalued. Feeling as though we are unwanted and have no significant value to those who matter to us, can lead to depression, low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide.
First and foremost, we need to be certain we always treat one another with dignity and respect, include them in our lives and let them know they matter to us.
Second: it is vitally important to avoid labeling ourselves “victims” of a particular circumstance or incident. A victim is one without power. I have power; I have free will and while I may not be able to fully control what happens in my life, I have 100% control over how I allow it to effect me. I can learn from life’s greatest challenges and grow stronger. Pay attention to your mindset. Be a person of courage and strength.
Third: monitor your thoughts at all times. Negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. “I can’t handle this!” “Nothing is ever going to get better!” This kind of thinking will generate negative feelings of despair and helplessness. Change your mindset: “I can and will face this head-on! I’m strong, confident and determined to move beyond my current circumstance” will engender an attitude of resolve and fortitude. Focus on the solutions rather than what you are unhappy about.
Fourth: reach out for help. You do not have to do this alone. Seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness. It shows you are intelligent enough to recognize you are struggling with something serious and value yourself enough to get help. There is no shame. I’ve been there; done that.
Fifth: turn to God for strength, guidance, comfort – whatever you need. He is the Source of all healing. Trust in Him. He will take away your pain (even if your circumstances remain intact) and restore inner peace. “In time of trouble, He will set me upon a rock.” Psalms 27:5 Pray. It really works.
Sixth: stay positive. Put everything into perspective. Remember, all things shall pass. What seems monumental today by tomorrow will shrink to the size of a grain of sand.
Seven: give yourself some TLC. Take extra care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, recreate; do what feels good.
Eight: find the value in the experience you are having. Ask yourself, “What is this situation here to teach me? How can I take what I’ve learned and benefit from it? How can I use it to serve and benefit others?” Be proactive. Find meaning.
Remember, you are the master of your destiny. You are fearless, strong and capable of overcoming any adversity life puts in you path. Your life has purpose and value. And you matter.
For emergency assistance, call:
National Suicide Prevention hotline @ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Vet2Vet 1-800-SUICIDE (7843433)
Teen Nine Line 1-800-999-999