As I sit in my apartment attempting to spray some semblance of useful, honest and heartfelt words that make even a fraction of sense onto paper, today is Friday, Sept. 10 – World Suicide Prevention Day.
I’ve written a column similar to the one you’re about to read nearly every year since I began my career as a journalist.
And while the theme in these columns might sometimes sound repetitive, I hope that the varying versions of the story show why the experiences within these pieces need to be brought to light again and again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by phone at (800) 273-8255. Another option is suicidepreventionlifeline.org, which provides an online version of intervention, and your doctor can help provide resources, too.
Somebody in my life – whom I won’t name to respect privacy – called me last month to talk about depression and the fear that comes with the reality that some days therapy and medication feel to be falling short.
They shared concerns over how it can be difficult to manage the feeling that sometimes we as humans are falling short.
This person is a parent with a strong support system, as well as hobbies and little everyday occurrences that used to bring them feelings of joy. These days, that happiness can be harder to find.
Speaking to a therapist helps, they said, and a tweak to medicine dosage could soon bring better days.
But this person isn’t somebody who sits in the corner at work and appears miserable or projects sadness when they come home to their family at the end of the day. If you met them, you would probably never know they are battling mental health issues.
And that is the case with so many people, especially as we attempt to return to normalcy after what at times was an especially isolated and difficult year thanks to a global pandemic and world change.
The last time I wrote a column like this, it was in memory of a friend of mine, Lillia, who committed suicide after fighting a battle against depression for much of her young life.
Before that, I shared stories of my own struggle with depression, the mental illness that pushed me to suicidal thoughts before my mother found me.
Depression and mental health issues can look different from person to person. Two people with depression might feel or respond to the feelings differently. Medically, they can be treated differently, much like other medical issues.
I’m a 24-year-old from small-town Wisconsin, and I grew up in a family that could be described as nothing short of loving, supportive and special.
Depression and suicidal thoughts still found me. The thoughts found Lillia, just five days short of 20 years old when she died. They found the person in my life that I wrote about earlier, and they can find anyone at anytime.
That is the truth.
You do not choose to be depressed, and you do not always get to decide to turn the other cheek and ‘forget about it’.
World Suicide Prevention Day is 24 hours long. For someone fighting suicidal thoughts, even that one day can feel like an eternity.
If you are reading this, you know someone who is fighting a battle, perhaps everyday, to keep moving forward. Be kind, educate yourself on mental health issues and the stigma around them, and don’t forget to check in on those around you every once in a while.
For anyone fighting suicidal thoughts, today may be a day you never thought you would see. And who knows what the next one could bring.
Keep fighting, today and every day after.