Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s great to raise awareness, but the problem is, people are still dying. We can talk until we’re blue in the face about why and how people should reach out, and there are lots of great crisis lines out there doing excellent work, but why is there still a gap between that talk and the actual statistics?
Reaching those suffering in silence
The way I see it, there are two broad groups of people that it’s important to connect with when we consider suicide risk. One is the people who are suffering in silence, and not reaching out for help because of stigma, fear, or whatever the reason may be.
I think initiatives such as World Suicide Prevention Day can potentially do a lot of good in reaching this segment of the population and encouraging them to access support.
Better treatment for chronic mental illness
Then there are those of us who are living with a mental illness diagnosis and doing our best to access the services that are available to us, but w’re still suffering. If you’re like me, maybe the talk about suicide prevention further reminds you of the role that suicidal thinking has played and will continue to play in your life. It’s important that we talk about it and get it out in the open, but talking isn’t enough.
To truly prevent suicide, we need better treatment for mental illness, and faster access to existing treatment. The current treatments we have available for mood disorders are okay, but a lot of us are still experiencing symptoms, and that shouldn’t be the only outcome possible. It can be very hard to maintain hope when the best available treatment doesn’t take the suicidal thoughts away. Me calling a crisis line changes nothing about my depression, so why would I even consider it? My doctor is happy to see me more frequently when the suicidal thoughts come up, and I appreciate that, but there’s not all that much we can really do about them other than me riding them out. Sadly, I’ve come to accept that this is part of my reality.
A multi-pronged approach
So if we are truly going to prevent suicide, we need a multi-pronged approach. Yes, we need to get people talking and break down stigma. Yes, we need to make people aware of existing crisis resources. But we also need better treatment for mental illness, and that means more research dollars. Because talk doesn’t do much for the many people in the same boat as I am and many of us in the mentally healthy blogging community are.
The suicide & mental illness resource page has info on suicidal thinking, crisis lines and safety planning, along with straight talk about suicide.