September: National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Imagine, you have been walking all day and somewhere along the way, you got lost. You’ve been walking around for hours and the day is coming to an end. It’s getting darker and darker, you can hardly see where you put your feet. You need to find shelter soon. Then, suddenly your foot slides away and you tumble down. A long way down. Like Alice into the rabbit hole, except, there’s no wonderland, just darkness.
There you are on the bottom of a pit, it’s ink black and freezing cold. You try to keep calm and carefully explore the place. Panic starts to grow when you realize the only way out is to climb up and the walls are almost smooth. You have no gear, just your bare hands and feet. You scream, you yell, but no one hears you. But you don’t give up easily and so you start to climb. It’s hard, almost nowhere to hold onto and you slip and fall. You try again in another place. A little higher this time, but your foot slips again and you’re back down. Desperately you try over and over and over again. You keep on trying, days go by, weeks, maybe more. No matter how high you get, you can’t see the slightest ray of light. The walls are to high and to smooth for you to climb back up. You give it your all, but you’re tired, so tired… You’ve used all your supplies. Finally, you reach the point where you just don’t have anything left, no food, no energy, no feelings, nothing. All you want to do is just sleep and for this to be over.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. I know there are a lot of people who consider suicide to be selfish. And I can understand that when you’ve never been in a severe depression. Someone may seem to have it all; a good job, a loving family, a lot of friends. Why do that? Why leave everything behind when you have so much to live for? The thing is, when you’re down in that pit, you can’t see that anymore. There’s nothing but darkness and no matter how hard you try to get out of there, you can’t get high enough to see some light.

Having gone through a severe depression myself, I can understand that someone may come at a point in their life that life is just darker than you ever thought darkness could be. When you feel like you are nothing but a burden for the people around you. I’m very grateful I never reached the point that taking my life seemed like my only option, but I’ve seen enough darkness not to judge someone who does.

The only way to help people overcome depression and prevent possible suicide, is to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness so people won’t feel ashamed to seek help.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people that don’t take depression seriously. Like kickboxer Andrew Tate (honestly, I had never heard of the man before, but apparently he is some kind of famous) tweeted that: “depression isn’t real” and those people are just “too lazy” to change their lives. It’s so sad when someone who is famous throws his unfounded opinion on a topic he clearly knows nothing about on social media. This reinforces the stigma surrounding mental illness and only prevents people from seeking the help they so desperately need. It’s good to see that other (really!) famous people like J.K. Rowling take time to retort.

I’m not asking anyone to understand suicide, just to think (hard) before you judge a person. You don’t know what someone has been through. It’s sad enough that someone decides to take their own life. Instead, let’s open up about mental illness and create a safe environment for people to seek help.
On this site you can learn more about mental illness and find resources if you’re interested.





Comment by Allie on 2017-09-15 22:10:48 -0700

This is really beautiful, Sandra, and it helps. Thank you.

Comment by Sandra Hoekstra on 2017-09-18 14:21:46 -0700

Thank you Allie, that makes it worth it.