Editor's Note: This story involves sensitive material that some readers may find triggering.
Despite living in some of the most prosperous eras in history, suicide rates are rising in America. According to ABC News, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans, but it is second for college-aged students.
In an era where we made tremendous progress into finding a cure for HIV, the suicide rate in America has grown by 33% since 1999, according to CNN. For every homicide death, there are two suicide deaths. Despite the damage suicide does, it seems crime takes the majority of the headlines.
In a society where we keep telling everyone that sharing our feelings is okay, people rebuke each other for having different beliefs. When 40% of all transgender adults reports they have attempted suicide in the past, discussions of how to address this need to be risen. When suicide claims more lives than road traffic accidents, there is a crisis we need to address.
Talking about suicide is as unpopular as talking about substance abuse. The stigma needs to go. Sidestepping the conversion to focus on meaningless topics like celebrity fashion trends is a disservice to those who need help. It’s uncomfortable to have a discussion on suicide, but avoiding the topic like we have for decades is hurting everyone.
Suicide leaves an impact on not just the victim, but everyone they leave behind. People are left with confusion, sadness and guilt. They face questions they should never have to ask themselves like, “Why didn’t they tell anyone?” “Could I have prevented it if I knew?”
The constant “what ifs” torture the people left behind.
You don’t have to a medical professional to make a difference. Just asking “How can I help” to someone in need can make the biggest change in someone’s life. Telling someone that they are not alone is one of the most comforting sayings, even if it feels cliché.
I know this because I once attempted suicide.
It was my freshman year in high school. At the time I thought that I was all alone, and that it would be easier if I wasn’t there as a burden. Yet, when I went to a rehabilitation center, I found that I wasn’t the only one suffering from suicidal thoughts. Being together with others who were overcoming these thoughts showed me how precious life was.
I’m glad I didn’t take my own life. The damage it would’ve done to my family and friends would be unforgivable. I tell my story so that it can help show others that there is hope. You do matter.
For us as a society, it’s vital we put more time and energy into researching solutions to stop suicides, and increase mental health research. While the it’s encouraging to see the government increase funding the National Institutes of Health by $3 billion in 2018, it remains to see if it has an impact.
What we do need is to address this crisis.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.