World Suicide Prevention Day is upon us and with it comes the clarion call for reaching into one’s heart. In many parts of the world, suicide is still stigmatized by society. It is easily misunderstood and under-diagnosed. Worse yet, people with suicidal thoughts and feelings experience unbearable suffering and have difficulty accessing care.
On September 10, 1973, I lost a best friend to death by suicide. The shocking truth is that despite our close friendship, I was unaware that my high school friend was struggling with suicidal thoughts. As you can imagine, the affected family were filled with ‘why’ questions and guilt. Blame and shame were huge burdens for my close friends. At the time, we went silent as having conversations around emotions and feelings was more of a rarity, than a valued possibility. Motivated by World Suicide Awareness and Prevention Day, I broke the silence and invited my deceased friend’s brother and his wife for lunch.
- Every single struggle is layered.
- When someone expresses suicidal thoughts, never ignore them. Take them very seriously. Consider taking action even if you find these thoughts surprising or you thought that they didn't mean it.
- Online resources are available 24/7. Check out #BeThe1To take action.
- When coping with the loss of a friend or loved one to suicide, it helps to understand that the person was in such pain that they could not deal with it anymore.
- If you know someone who is suffering or grieving, it's OK to ask how they are feeling or how you can help.
- Give yourself permission to share how you are feeling when dealing with disturbing thoughts.
- One’s worth when it is reflected back through anothers’ care and love is fundamental in feeling a sense of belonging.
- Everyone deals with death differently.
I am hoping that my story will strengthen your conviction to be there for others during their difficult times. #BeThe1To
By Theo Koffler, speaker, author and founder of Mindfulness Without Borders – a charitable organization that facilitates programs and workshops to strengthen social and emotional intelligence and secular mindfulness in youth and the adults that surround them.