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Suicide Doesn't Discriminate

The news of a person’s death by suicide is always difficult to hear but much like most controversial news, the shock factor wears out within days. However, for those affected by suicide whether directly or not, it is a painful reminder of an invisible struggle that bears much weight.
In the mental health profession, suicide is one of those subjects that’s inevitable. Truth is, no amount of academic learning or skills training could ever prepare you to come face to face with someone considering ending their life. Every personal story, every reason to consider death as the better choice is individual. It’s beyond “being selfish” or taking the “easy way out” as most of us may have callously thought before. In fact, some reasons are far from selfish and more focused on others. It’s feeling like a burden to caring family members or an overbearing sense of guilt of being a disappointment. It’s a common thread of pain without resolve so overwhelming that death seems like the only relief.
Can you imagine that? Can you fathom the reality of waking up daily imprisoned by your thoughts and emotions? Consider the debilitating inability to see a solution to any problem or feeling like you can’t escape. Think about having to face life daily-your job, family, friends and pretending to be okay. It takes a level of strength that’s far from weak and selfish. It’s a mental battle that’s laced with exhaustion and perseverance.
And yes we know, sometimes suicidal thoughts appear as a result of external circumstances such as stress and depression or personal decisions. Yet in some cases, through no fault of their own, individuals may battle mental illness as a result of family history or past trauma.
The reality is, while all of the above is important, more is the loss of life. More important is the fact that people are dying at their own hands. What are we doing to prevent this?
The National Institute of Mental Health lists suicide as the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Moreover, in 2016 there were twice as many suicides than homicides. We have a responsibility as a society to extend a voice to those who suffer in silence and appropriate quality resources to those reaching out for help. Regardless of profession, we all have the potential to be aware, to pay attention, to recognize, to be conscious; to notice. Notice those around you who may be struggling with an inner battle of suicidal thoughts which may eventually manifest in an attempt or death.
Suicide looks like despair and giving up hope BUT it also looks like:
A wealthy white female.
A single African American mother.
A drug-addicted male.
A depressed elderly person.
A chronic mental diagnosis patient.
An individual trying to identify their sexual orientation.
A pregnant woman.
A prisoner.
A new mom.
A preacher’s son.
A bullied child/teenager.
A wall street businessman.
A successful actor
The untimely death of fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain once again reminds us that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It ignores socioeconomic status, gender, and race among other factors. Suicide looks like everyone. Pause your world and notice.

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