I would like to preface this article by saying that I am not a mental health professional. This article is for the sole purpose of educating others on suicide awareness month, the importance of it, and how people can engage with the cause. If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide please reach out to a trusted friend, adult, mentor, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
September is a month looked forward to by many. Many celebrate September as the start of fall, PSL season, and the start of the new school year. Although represented by orange leaves, cloudy skies, and warm coffee, September has an even more important meaning besides the fall aesthetic. September is Suicide Awareness Month.
Why Suicide Awareness Month is important:
Suicide is such a taboo thing to talk about in our lives today even though, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 10 to 34. Suicide awareness month is so important because talking about this issue can help minimize the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health. By being a public ally of suicide awareness you can show others that you are there to support them if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, lead by example to inspire others to speak out publically on the issue, and overall help to diminish the stigma. In addition, individuals who have dealt with suicidal thoughts use this month to share the stories of their struggles to provide hope for others that suicidal ideation is not always permanent. By posting on social media or, by talking about suicide awareness in your everyday life people may feel more incline to confide in you when they are struggling.
How to get involved and support the movement of suicide awareness:
To Write Love on Her Arms (https://twloha.com) is a great resource to help you get started with suicide awareness. The website contains articles and videos about how you can help those struggling with suicidal ideation. The website also has a store where you can buy merchandise that aims to spread the message that life is worth living (plus the merch is all super cute). Their Instagram (@twloha) also has many informational posts that are easy to share on your story or send to loved ones.
Another organization that can help you become more involved and informed is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (https://afsp.org/blog/). The site has educational resources about the statistics of suicide that debunk common misconceptions about suicide. The organization also offers blog posts of individuals stories who have experienced suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt and have now found hope. It also has resources for grieving the loss of a loved one due to suicide. Finally, the organization puts on Out of the Darkness walks which are community walks meant to help bring up conversations about mental health.
One of the easiest things you can do to help make a change is to post on social media as well as bringing mental health up in conversations with friends and loved ones. Even reposting something about suicide awareness on your story can make a change. If you want to take on a challenge, the last week of September I will be posting an Instagram story each day of the week (the 23rd-30th) of one thing that I think is worth living for. Worth living for is the slogan that TWLOHA is using to promote suicide awareness month. An example of a post I may make is “friends are worth living for” with pictures of my friends and the hashtag #worthlivingfor and #suicideawarenessmonth. I encourage you all to do that same, as it may help those who are struggling to realize things that are in their life that are worth living for and, helps to break the stigma surrounding suicide.
It only takes one person and one action to help spread the importance of suicide awareness. I challenge you to be that one person. Remember that there is always hope.