Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mental Health Matters


If you are in a place where you feel unsafe or if you believe that you are a threat to yourself because of your illness. PLEASE. Please call 9-1-1 immediately.  

Today is World Mental Health Day.

Today. Tuesday. October 10, 2017.

It's a day where my FB feed was flooded with proclamations.

A day where friends reminded one another of their own experiences with mental illness.

A day where the world stood together for a few brief moments to remind one another that we're not alone. Where so many of us across social media and beyond took the time to say:

Me, too!

Those two important words. They mean so much.

They can help someone relate who may not know exactly what is going on with them.

They can remind someone that they're truly not the only one.

They can help someone take a breath and realize that there are others out there who get it. Who know. Who understand. Who feel just like they do.

What they can't do is guarantee things. There's no promise in those words that will absolutely save lives. This is not a magic phrase that will convince someone that THEIR life is worth living. It is not two words, five letters and one large exclamation point that promises with this reminder that everything will be okay and that you - I - us all - that we will get better.

Why am I sharing this, you ask? Why would I point out these reminders on this very important day? A day where people shouted this more publicly than ever before?

I don't say this to stop you from sharing. I don't say this to stop you from shouting.

I truly believe that the Me, too! mantra represents one of the most important phrases in the English language when it comes to mental health. When it comes to awareness and advocacy. It's so so important.

But I do say this for another reason.

Because every year we watch as people lose their lives. As people struggle through the invisible illness that is depression, and succumb to the thoughts that lead them to think that this is the only answer. That suicide is the only way to make the pain stop.

We watch and we learn and we listen. Celebrities. Neighbors. Fellow mothers. The children in our community or in the communities of those we know. We watch as lives get torn apart as the individual suffering most of all takes steps to end their own lives. We watch and we whisper. We wish so so badly that someone had seen them. That someone had known. That someone could have helped them. Stopped them. Done something.

We wonder out loud. To ourselves. To others. What led them to that choice?


Mental illness is not a choice. And more often than not those who die by suicide are experiencing mental illness. They've lived with it for so long, and it, not the individual, is what takes their life away from them.

These people do not do this themselves.

Suicide is not a choice.

I will repeat that.

Suicide is not a choice. 

I found this incredible piece on just that that I encourage others to read. It's over on suicide.org and I think it is so very valuable.

Every year over 41,000 people die by suicide. *Stat via the CDC - source: NAMI

Die. By. Suicide.

People do not commit suicide.

It's so difficult to not use that term when someone's life ends by suicide. It is so hard to not say that someone has taken their own life. Even I, as a mental health provider, will ask someone about their history of suicidal ideations - and often I find myself stuck in that phrasing. Have you ever tried to take your own life?

It is not a choice.

Those who die by suicide do not take their own lives.

They did not choose to leave you. Leave us.

There was nothing you could have done.

You could not have stopped their illness from making this choice for them.

They did not make this choice.

Please know this.

I know. Today is the kind of day we should be pledging awareness.

And yet, today I found it difficult to remind people to talk to one another and reach out.

Because although that is important and is something I say ALL THE TIME. I think there's so much more to consider. And I encourage you to remember that you read this and remind others - should they have ever lost someone in this way - because it's not your fault.

It's not your fault.

You did not give this individual their mental illness. 

You did not convince them that the only way out of this pain was to end it all. 

You did not do anything wrong. 

It's not your fault.

That said, if this is YOU I am talking about. 

If you are the individual who is experiencing thoughts of suicide or of hurting yourself in any way, please know that there is a way to get help. Please fight these thoughts, because your illness is WRONG. You deserve to be here. You deserve to be loved. 

If you are in a place where you feel unsafe. Where you believe that you are a threat to yourself because of your illness. PLEASE. Please call 9-1-1 immediately. 

Consider reaching out and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

You can also reach out to IMAlive and call the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-442-4673.

Both of these websites have a live CHAT option, as well. Please consider using it.

For more posts on the importance of acknowledging the impact mental health has on our lives stay with me:

Mental Health: Suicide in the News

Ten Ways To Protect Your Health in Today's Political Climate

Please remember that this post is not meant to be medical advice. If you or someone you know is exhibiting suicidal behaviors, please get yourself or your friend/family member to a mental health professional as soon as possible. 

1 comment:

Comments are like air to a writer.

So please - say something - help me BREATHE!