September is suicide awareness month. Many people want to focus on prevention. Sure, prevention would be nice. Maybe billboards or someone on the TV or radio saying to hurting people they should call a hotline will help a few. Teaching people to look for signs which are now proven to be not indicative of suicidal ideation is a false sense of accomplishment. Teaching people to rid themselves of certain items to reduce suicide ignores the large percentage who use other common items.
In my experience, most plan for their escape. Many survivors recall when their loved one said goodbye or find evidence of plans. These people knew hotlines existed, knew their partner loved them, but believed leaving would cure their pain.
The message of prevention primarily accomplishes one thing really well. It causes survivors of loss, those grieving a loss to suicide, to feel attacked for not seeing the signs. They feel guilt for having common items lying around.
I applaud those wishing to help. There is one tool which everyone has heard of which is very effective. However, very few actually take the effort to do. It is simple. Instead of telling the hurting to reach out because you are listening, REACH IN!
And since we are talking about suicide awareness, one large risk factor for suicide is those who lost a close person to suicide. You should reach in to them too!
In my darkest days, I couldn’t reach out. Let’s stop telling people to reach out and let’s start to reach in.
Reach Into Life