A friend committed suicide this week. Every day, week, month and year we lose many to suicide. We don’t talk about it. Suicide is taboo. If we talk about suicide someone might commit suicide. People are already committing suicide; not talking is not helping! If you think someone is suicidal, or if you’re reading this and you’re suicidal, then talking can help. It gets it out into the open and that’s a start.
Some believe that a person who talks about suicide isn’t serious or is attention seeking. Yet most tell someone before their fatal attempt. When a person says something that makes you think that they are suicidal then listen and take it seriously; it may be their final words. Get the person help through the Emergency Room, Crisis Line, or counseling centers. The life you save may be your friend, family, neighbor, stranger, or even your own.
Why suicide? Many reasons: chronic pain, shame, trauma, hopelessness, and helplessness; loss of family, ability, job or relationships; endurance of abuse at school, work, home, or online. Some attempt to escape abusive relationships. But love is not fear, violence, or abuse, and God does not condone abuse. Some who attempt suicide just want their pain to end and do not see any other way out. There are ways out that don’t require your life in exchange.
Some who attempt suicide have a prior mental health diagnosis while others do not. Mental health is taboo and stigmatized. If a person has a compound fracture: a broken bone protruding through flesh (a clear sign of a bad day) then we call 911 for help. We don’t stigmatize. If a person has high blood pressure or diabetes, we seek medical professionals to help the person manage their illness. It’s not cured, but it is managed. Mental illness can also be managed through medication and therapy. Stigmatizing hurts and kills. Stop stigmatizing and start helping. Start with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Fairbanks by calling (907) 456-4704 or Text NAMI to 741-741.
I have spoken on many occasions with survivors of suicide – the family and friends of a person who has taken their own life. Survivors experience tremendous guilt and pain. If you’re reading this and you’re a survivor then you need to know that you are not responsible for someone else’s fatal mistake.
If you are considering suicide, then know that people will not be better off without you. You are not a burden.
Suicide is not limited to one race, income, faith, orientation, or gender. It is an equal opportunity killer. What are warning signs of suicide? Sudden death of someone close; prior suicide attempts; saying that you want to die, can’t take it anymore, or want to end it all; depression; substance abuse; giving away items of special value; getting your affairs in order; changes in sleep and/or eating patterns; self-isolating from friends and family; outbursts of anger or crying; failures in school, work, or life; apathy; or a sudden change in attitude to happiness from anger and sadness.
The above list also describes many teenagers. Fatal suicide attempts, nonfatal attempts, and depression are common among teens. Make no assumptions, talk with your teens. Talk with your Active Duty, Veteran, and First Responder friends. Suicide is very high in each group.
Depression mixed with alcohol and firepower is a deadly combination. I have been entrusted with firearms by people who no longer trusted themselves with them.
This has been a painful article to write. I felt it necessary after losing another friend to suicide this week and the prevalence of suicide in our community. Suicide is a Top 10 leading cause of death in America. It does not have to be. Please, get help, ask others if they need help. You are important, and we can all make a difference.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk is on Saturday May 22nd seehttps://afsp.org/ for further information.
FAIRBANKS Crisis Line 24/7 (907) 452-4357 or 1-877-266-4357.
National Suicide Lifeline: 800-273-8255
The Trevor Lifeline 866-488-7386
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Fairbanks by calling (907) 456-4704
Text NAMI Start or Help to 741-741
Lifeline for Vets at 888-777-4443
If you’ve lost someone to suicide call Hospice at 458-3090 for free grief support.
Rev. Stephen Reed is Pastor at St. Paul Church and the Chaplain for Fairbanks Police & Fire
Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Faith Section on April 23, 2021
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting