She walks around forcing a smile on her face. “Fake it till you make it,” she whispers under her breath, repeating the words she’s heard again and again. On the outside she is a blossoming bright flower, but deep down she is wilting under pressure, societal standards, her own standards.
To say goodbye to a friend, family member, even an acquaintance can be difficult, but not knowing that someone you care deeply about is suffering, takes it to a whole new level.
September brings the start of a new school year and Suicide Awareness Month.
Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for people 18-65 and over 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year.
To put those numbers into perspective: Heinz football field holds 68,400 individuals, that means over half of the stadium dies each year from suicide.
Talking about suicide and mental health can be uncomfortable and difficult, but more times than not it can be prevented.
Don’t hesitate to be direct with someone and ask them if they have ever thought about dying or killing themselves. Dancing around the subject won’t help them.
When starting a conversation, make sure to listen intently and let them talk without feeling judged.
If they are at risk of hurting themselves make sure to stay, secure the area and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or campus security, if you’re on campus.
The one problem I see again and again with mental health and sucicide is society pushing the idea of “Faking it till you make it.” If you aren’t happy, put a smile on your face, and eventually those sad feelings will go away.
No. Feelings do not go away, unless you deal with them.
From personal experience, I can say this is harder said than done, as going to the counselor can be intimidating and uncomfortable. But, I’m here to tell you that it does get easier.
I’ve had friends who said they would never go to counseling. They came up with every excuse not to go – they didn’t need it, they didn’t want to go, they didn’t have time to go.
After seeing them struggle through the same problems week after week, I knew they needed to see someone. After convincing them, they caved and scheduled an appointment.
That one appointment led to regularly scheduled appointments once a week and they started telling me that going to counseling was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made.
This is just the story of one person. Counseling might not be for everyone, but don’t ever think your problems aren’t serious enough to go to counseling. We have the resources at our convenience for free, so take advantage of it.
I want to leave you with two thoughts:
If you’re reading this, whether you’re at a high or low place in your life, there is always someone there for you. There might not be someone physically there, but you are on someone’s mind and they care for you and appreciate you. It could be your best friend or a random stranger on the street that can’t get you off their mind.
When you pass someone on the street or you say something mean to someone, remember that their smile might be fake. Everyone is going through something different and you don’t always know their full story. Say “hi” to people you pass; Wave if you see someone you know; Ask “why” when someone seems upset; and Show the people you love that you care for them.
It is even more important now than ever to show the people you love that you care for them, as COVID-19 has shown the world that the future is unpredictable. So, be there for people and don’t be afraid to speak up if you or someone you know is struggling through a mental illness or suicidal thoughts.