Nation Suicide Prevention Week
September 10, 2017
We are going to talk about suicide – and even if you believe that suicide isn’t relevant to your life, then consider that today is Global Suicide Prevention Day, the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 10-16), so I need for you to keep reading. As you read, it might be easy for you to separate your life from mine, but this is a story about your child, your friend, your partner, your sibling, and your neighbor just as much as it is a story about me.
Suicide was always something I knew about but couldn’t understand until the first day I wanted to die. In short, the build-up to my suicide attempt involved multiple instances of sexual assault in middle and high school. Like most victim/survivors of sexual trauma, I blamed myself for what happened to me. Even though my parents were supportive, I believed that my pain was unwarranted and I shamed myself for being sensitive and emotional.
Remember– this is not an uncommon experience at all for folks, including people close to you. For others, it might be pressure from financial problems, anxiety, school violence, grief and loss, depression, or anything that someone might become overwhelmed by. People in our state think about suicide at an incredibly high rate. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 in Kansas, the 10th cause of death overall. There is a suicide death in Kansas approximately every 18 hours, and someone makes an attempt every single minute.Suicide is a real problem. It’s our problem.
At 15 years old, I felt completely disconnected from most of my peers as I watched them (seemingly) easily enjoy their lives, and I judged myself because I couldn’t seem to enjoy anything at all. In fact, the only emotions I felt were shame, anxiety, fear, and exhaustion. At some point I averted my attention from a constant reel of what happened to me and instead started focusing on thoughts about dying. In the moment that I tried to kill myself, my depression had fully convinced me that the people who actually cared about me would have a much better life without me in it – I honestly believed that I was doing them a favor.
It took me a very long time to figure out that I was not the only person in the world experiencing these emotions. Eventually, I learned that kids younger than me, teens my own age, and adults much older than me felt similarly, yet we all believed that we were alone. How is this possible, you ask? It's because we are all afraid to talk about our pain. The consequences of not talking about our struggles are major and we cannot keep denying that. People in Kansas are in unbearable pain. It’s easy to believe that the scope of suicide as a problem only includes suicide deaths. True, people are dying by suicide in Kansas, but people are also living with chronic suicidal ideation. Most suicide attempts do not result in death, but that does not mean that the survivor’s pain goes away.
Here’s the good news: we have Headquarters Counseling Center. This grassroots agency has been a virtual refuge for people every single day for almost 50 years. Our trained volunteers answer the national Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) for all 105 counties in Kansas. This is a free, confidential, compassionate service that is available to everyone 24/7. We also operate the KansasSuicide Prevention Resource Center (KSPRC) which works within communities providing training and technical resources to leaders, educators, and businesses. We are the only center in our state that is doing this work.
If I still haven’t convinced you that suicide is a serious yet preventable problem, hear this: 25,000 calls per year. We answer about 25,000 calls a year from people who want to die in Kansas, and almost always, we give those callers hope.
I’ve been a volunteer at Headquarters for three and a half years, so I can tell you that choosing to participate in this invaluable training was perhaps the greatest, most life-altering decision I’ve ever made. Aside from gaining suicide intervention skills and learning how to be a listener, Headquarters gifted me with immediate acceptance and a whole lot of love. I found my people here – shout out to Spring ’14, my delightful training group that just so happens to still be head-over-heals obsessed with each other after all this time. The spirit of Headquarters historically lives inside the uniquely wholehearted people who make up this place. It’s an honor to be a part of that magic.
This is my plea: you don’t have to be an expert in order to prevent suicide. The first step is to believe that this is a community issue--It truly is, and I need you to join me in doing something about it. Below is a list of varying ways you can help.
In the spirit of National Suicide Prevention Month, please pick at least one thing from this list to take a stand against suicide and act on it. Our community needs you.
Erica is a Headquarters volunteer and dedicated suicide prevention advocate. She is committed to fighting stigma and engaging the whole community in this work.
- Listen patiently when your loved ones tell you they’re in pain. While feeling afraid or uncomfortable is a completely normal way to feel when talking to someone about suicide, silencing people out of fear or discomfort is ineffective. Tell them their feelings are real and valid, and encourage them to seek help.
- Store these numbers: 800-273-8255 (TALK) and (785) 841-2345 – If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, or if just need some emotional support, you’ll have it as a resource when you or others need it.
- Become a volunteer! We honestly always need more. If you want information on this, visit our website
- Take people seriously when they say they want to die. If you feel in over your head while trying to help someone, please call us for guidance.
- Join a Suicide Prevention Coalition in your area. We have worked really hard to try to build these groups in each county in KS. You can find a list here
- Educate yourself on suicide and suicide prevention. You can visit our websites, or follow our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
- Receive training from us. We offer many different research-based trainings specifically for community members who have zero suicide prevention expertise or experience.
- Donate to Headquarters Counseling Center. Any amount helps. We are funded by individual and foundation gifts. To continue operating the Headquarters Counseling Center and the Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center, we need your financial support.
National Suicide Prevention Week Resources and Links:
- NSPW Toolkit
- World Health Organization World SuicidePrevention Day
- International Association for Suicide PreventionWorld Suicide Prevention Day
- National Day of Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Life
National Suicide Prevention Week Events:
Sunday, September 10, 8am-10am 14th Annual Remembrance Walk. Jacob L. Loose Park, 5200 Wornall Rd, Kansas City, MO 64112. Click here for more information
Sunday, September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day Candlelight Vigil. , Emporia State Memorial Union. Click here for more information
September 11th and 12th, ASIST Manhattan. Click here for information and tickets
Thursday, September 14, 7:30pm Headquarters Candlelight Remembrance. Lawrence Public Library park. Join us to remember those lost to suicide, to honor those who have struggled with suicide, to honor those who still struggle with suicide, and to honor those who fight to prevent suicide in their community.
Friday, September 15, 8am-4:30pm, 5th Annual Community Mental Health Summit, Topeka. Washburn University Union Hall. Click here for more info
Saturday, September 16, 10am-1pm Out of the Darkness Wichita Walk. Click here for more details
Sunday, September 17, 9am Speak Up Walk 2017.Ironwoods Park Amphitheater, 14701 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS. Click here for more information
You can also visit our NSPW event page for more events
HEADQUARTERS INC © 2017
211 E 8th St Ste C, Lawrence, KS 66044