Suicide Prevention and Emotional Wellness in the 21st Century
Today is a guest post by Melissa Howard who runs the StopSuicide website. This topic is a heavy but important one to have. I have briefly talked about it before, but always in a 'light' manner and with my hope at the end. But it's not like that for everyone. By sharing this guest post my hope is that it will reach someone who needs the resources mentioned. Those resources can be found at the bottom of the post. Please be kind to yourself.
Melissa Howard believes that every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, she felt compelled to create StopSuicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information.
Suicide: The Statistics
Suicide is a tragedy that doesn’t just affect the person committing it-- it has a lasting and devastating effect on everybody left in that person’s life. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country. In 2015, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people 15 to 34 years old and the third leading cause for children 10 to 14. Over 44,000 people in the United States lose their life due to suicide each year. Countless friends, family members, and loved ones are left behind to pick up the pieces.
Why Do People Commit Suicide?
Trying to decipher why a person would take their own life can be difficult. For most people, life is a precious thing, and the idea of voluntarily extinguishing it is unfathomable. People who commit suicide are often plagued with feelings of hopelessness that they cannot escape. Sometimes, these feelings are the result of mental illness like depression, schizophrenia, and chronic anxiety. Often people who have experienced a traumatic experience like physical or sexual abuse turn to suicide as a way to escape their pain.
Often, external factors can play a part in a person’s suicide attempt. People experiencing harassment and bullying may feel so depressed, worthless, and hopeless that they turn to it. Illnesses including addiction and eating disorders often contribute to suicidal feelings. Furthermore, feelings of failing to live up to societal expectations regarding employment, relationships, and social isolation can make a person feel hopeless enough to attempt suicide. Whatever the causes of these emotions, the suicidal person feels trapped and unable to cope with their situation, so suicide seems like their last resort for escaping their pain.
Promoting Emotional Wellness for Suicide Prevention
If you or someone you know experiences suicidal thoughts, there is hope. Working toward emotional wellness can help improve self-esteem and provide a sense of hope even when facing difficulties in life. Emotional wellness helps a person accept their feelings so they do not feel trapped within them.
A key to emotional wellness is optimism. Not everyone is naturally optimistic-- some people have to work for it. That work can mean a lot of “faking it” until you “make it.” Overcoming dark thoughts and reminding oneself to be positive isn’t easy, but even the attempt to do so can help adjust the mind. Turning to someone you trust for help is another way to work toward being optimistic. Talking with another person who values your presence is a healthy reminder that you are wanted in this world-- that your presence would be missed. When plagued with feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt, it can be difficult to reach out to someone you love for help out of fear of wasting their time. In these cases, talking to a therapist or calling a suicide hotline can provide you with the support you need.
More tips for emotional wellness:
Spending time with a pet-- such as a dog-- is proven to promote feelings of wellness and reduce depression and anxiety.
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the brain that help reduce stress and promote positivity.
Investing time into a new hobby can help garner feelings of purpose while building self-esteem.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation helps with stress management and accepting emotions.
The mind cannot function properly without sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
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When a person commits suicide, it leaves a devastating impact that affects everyone left in their life. People attempt to take their own lives for different reasons, but generally, it’s a way for them to escape pain and feelings of hopelessness. The key to suicide prevention is emotional wellness. Working to be more optimistic while doing things to promote self-esteem and emotional acceptance can help save a valuable life.