At what time of year do most people commit the unthinkable and take their own lives? If you guessed the holidays, you would not be correct. Most suicides actually occur in late July and August, and we really don’t know why.
I have discussed this with Dr. Shawn Shea many times over the years. Dr. Shea wrote “The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment,” and his main focus is on veterans, especially those who are returning from combat. Dr. Shea has done a lot of great work in the field, but so much is still unknown to us.
There is no doubt that suicide prevention awareness has been growing stronger over the years and is now in mainstream media. Producer and writer DJ Nash created the ABC series “A Million Little Things” about a close group of friends who are learning how to cope with life after one of them takes his own.
Mr. Nash was inspired by his personal experience after he lost a close friend to suicide. I attended an Emmy screening and discussion with the producer/writer and cast members. It was quite moving, and the show is not only creating greater awareness but also inspiring people to talk about suicide.
In the show, one of the group is experiencing some depression and his friends are pushing him to therapy and are actively concerned. This is exactly the way we need to behave when someone close to us is going through a dark time. It can’t be ignored. Most people who deal with suicidal ideation don’t seek counseling or medical support, and it may be up to those in their circle to point them in the right direction.
I applaud the people who cross boundaries to help someone they care for. It can be very difficult to get someone who is that depressed to seek help or even to talk to you about what’s going on in their head. People can have very successful lives and still decide that being alive is no longer what they want. Just like Jon in “A Million Little Things.”
Going through a deep depression is no joke, but many suicidal people don’t act like they are sad and done with life. It is often a shock to those around them, the survivors. Many, many people have known, or know about, someone who took their own life, and it still is not talked about as much as it needs to be.
Our brains can play tricks on us, and life can be very hard. If your thinking has declined into wishing you weren’t here, it is time to share this with someone. Yes, therapy would be a good choice, but if you aren’t comfortable with that, please tell a friend. And if you are the friend, please be there for that person who summoned up the courage to tell you how he or she is feeling. If you can’t be there, at least help find someone else who can, because this is serious and you are now a part of the process, even if you didn’t want to be.
Helping is as easy as calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE or going online to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The hotline is open around the clock. Please don’t ignore the cry for help that comes from someone you know. You may save a life.