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Hope for a Better Tomorrow: Suicide Prevention

It's Suicide Prevention week in the United States.

There was a time when those words meant nothing to me. Suicide prevention was someone else's problem and a week dedicated to it was the last thing on my mind. That all changed on April 23, 2013 when I lost my brother to suicide.

If you missed my blog post about my experience, you can read about it here:

That day forever changed my life. I started to change the things I didn't like: my surroundings, my habits, and found purpose in the pain. I met lots of people that lost loved ones to suicide, addiction, and mental health issues.

The one thing that I feel most blessed about is how this experience taught me how to be empathetic. Empathy is understanding someone's pain and listening, really listening and sitting with someone in their time of need.

We've all had bad days, I think we can agree on that. And we always will. It's not always as simple as saying, "It'll be okay" to someone that is feeling down. Saying that is NOT being empathetic. Instead, ask that person to take a walk with you or meet you for coffee. Meet them with NO agenda. Simply listen. Do not offer advice or provide your take on their situation. People need someone to listen to them with open hearts and minds. That is really the greatest gift we can give someone that is struggling.

Oftentimes, people that are feeling suicidal aren't having one bad day. It is a string of bad days, weeks, months, or years that have led to this feeling. One conversation might help, but your loved one might also need professional intervention.

Here's what to do when you are worried about someone you love (from AFSP, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention):

Have an honest conversation:

  1. Talk to them in private

  2. Listen to their story

  3. Tell them you care about them

  4. Ask directly if they are thinking about suicide

  5. Encourage them to seek treatment or contact their doctor or therapist

  6. Avoid debating the value of life, minimizing their problems or giving advice

If a person says they are considering suicide:

  • Take the person seriously

  • Stay with them

  • Help them remove lethal means

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

  • Escort them to mental health services or an emergency room

If you are struggling:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

  • Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

  • Go to mental health services or an emergency room

More than anything, I want you to know that if you feel that there is no way out of the whole you are in - if finances are bad, bill collectors are calling, your car is being repossessed - if your relationships are falling apart - if your job, career, or school are suffering - it is NEVER too far gone for change. The first step is getting yourself safe. Reach out to a crisis line as listed above or check in to an emergency room. Connect with a loved one for additional support. You are loved and you matter. More than you know.

I have heard countless stories of men, women, and children that have felt completely hopeless. Each person that I've heard from has turned their life around and found happiness. It is an incredible gift. I hope you know that you are capable of change.

It all starts with making the next best decision.

I remember sitting with my brother at his bar having a beer with him. We were talking about how bad his financial situation was (I am a CPA - as a sidebar). He looked me in the eyes and told me there was nothing I could do. It was too far gone. I felt pretty helpless but he had me convinced. Granted, I didn't know the half of his financial situation until he passed and I won't lie, it was bad. And I don't have any confidence that I could've turned around the mess he was in, but I certainly could've helped him pivot and make the next best decision.

I share this snippet of my story with you because he didn't give himself the chance to do it differently. After he passed, in a reading with a medium, he told me that he wished it hadn't happened and he felt bad for the pain we all experienced as a result. But, it had happened and he couldn't change it. I wish he would've hung on a little longer and seen how life could've been different. I hope that you see how it could be different for you, too.

In my book, #WarriorsinRecovery, I share how we have light moments in which we can pivot but we must decide in those light moments to do so. In the book, 12 women share their stories and each one has a light moment in which they pivot. You can, too.

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