It’s a big number. It’s the number of people who commit suicide each year according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. As counselors, that is the number we are up against every single day we go into work, and that’s just for the ones who have made it into counseling. Not every person who has ended their own life sought any type of help. It is the tenth leading cause of death in America, and if it was not already concerning you then it should be now.
Before becoming a counselor and for a bit afterwards, I worked on an ambulance as an EMT. I didn’t deal in the realm of prevention yet; I responded to the attempts and completed suicides as they were dispatched, as fast as we could go. Whether it was a hanging, gunshot, overdose, bleed out, jumping, or monoxide poisoning, we were there. These calls were always tough, but ultimately routine.
“Routine” can be a part of the problem when it comes to dealing with suicidal behavior. Suicide is an action. It is the “action” of an individual taking their own life through some means which opposes their normal “routine”. This calls for an actionable response that is out of the ordinary. Have you ever had anyone tell you they were not sure they could handle things anymore or perhaps say that things would be better off if they just disappeared? Did you say anything, do anything?
We cannot go back in time. We cannot rethink every conversation we have ever had with someone, but what we can do is be present in our daily conversations. A rattled off “I could just die” might be a joke from a very close friend; although, if you know your friend struggles with depression or just had a recent traumatic event occur in their lives, take action. That action may just be cluing in another individual who is more capable of helping.
By remembering to be present in our relationships, we actionably oppose routine.
Suicide shouldn’t be routine.
44,193 is a big number.
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