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World Suicide Prevention Day

James Warren September 22, 2022
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This is National Suicide Prevention Week and YESTERDAY was 12 weeks since Maya died by suicide. I didn’t realize how much I was hurting subconsciously, but Fridays are always a bit different now since we found my sister on a Friday afternoon. Also, yesterday I finally got the final death certificate. (Yeah, i with it.) Even when I knew what it would say, just seeing the word “suicide” on an official form that bears your sister’s name, it’s another reminder that it will always be this way, that Maya is gone.

TODAY is World Suicide Prevention Day. The theme is “Creating Hope Through Action.”

Hope. That’s a word that means a lot to me, because it’s part of my calling. And somehow, I didn’t see how little hope Maya had left. I didn’t see it. I don’t feel like Maya’s death was anyone’s fault. I’m not angry at her, nor mad at myself. But I do have regret. Regret that I didn’t check in with her more often. I focus so much on empathy and connection, and when she needed me most, I was too focused on what I had going to see her. She didn’t want to unload on the rest of us. And maybe, if she had more pathways and resources to work through the pain more regularly, maybe she would have had have a different experience than what she did.

So often, many of us feel that people don’t really want to hear what we have going on. They don’t really want to know the truth: that deep down inside, there is unbearable, unspeakable pain. That there is sealed off trauma on top of blocked out memories on top of open wounds. No, a lot of times, we aren’t ready to hear all that. To see all that.

We can change that. I’ve learned an extraordinarily painful lesson about not seeing other people’s pain, and I believe we can change.

We can be better at seeing one another when they are struggling but not wanting to show it, at hearing their truth, even when it is uncomfortable and inconvenient – for them and us. We can focus more of our attention on one another’s suffering. We can do better as a society, as communities, and in our families. And it starts with one call. One coffee. Even one text. Just reach out and say, “I’m checking in with you.” It could be for you. It could be for them. Because all of us need a check in sometimes.

And that’s where action comes in.

Please, take one small action today. Just #CheckIn with someone. A family member, a friend, a coworker or neighbor. And if you are worried that someone you know may be thinking about suicide, and you’re not sure how to talk to them, here’s a resource from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

Also, you can call or text 988.

There is so much to remind us of my sister. Our family has a lot of support. We are grateful for both of those things. We are holding onto the positive memories while we experience the grief.

I love you, Maya. Forever and ever and ever. ❤️

Written September 10, 2022

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