Today is World Suicide Prevention Day!
Some of us have had suicidal thoughts in the past.
Some of us are currently having suicidal thoughts.
Some of us have put those thoughts into actions and have had abandoned attempts.
Some of us have fully attempted suicide and survived.
Some of us have lost loved ones to suicide.
Some of us have experienced all of these things.
Today is personal for us. Personal for me and for some of you, my family, friends, former colleagues, and strangers who fit into one or more of these categories.
Today, we remember our struggle. Today, we confront our struggle. And for some, we remember someone who’s been lost to the struggle.
We shine a light on a topic that too many people run away from, who wish to cast it into the darkness to be forgotten and unspoken. But these people do not understand that in the darkness it festers and spreads, for it thrives in the darkness.
Today we stand together in defiance of stigma. That wretched societal abomination that surrounds us like walls, holding us captive and unreachable. Keeping us alone in the darkness at times in our lives when the last thing we should ever feel is alone.
Not only is stigma a visual impairment, hiding us away from the world, but so too is it a silencer. Hushing our voices in fear of shame and ridicule. And so we not only stand today, but we shout. We shout loud and clear into the face of stigma, reminding all who are near that we exist and that while we struggle – we are more than the struggle. We are human.
Today I have tears in my eyes not just out of sadness for the people we have lost to suicide, but also out of joy at the people we have saved from suicide.
Nineteen years ago I did not die, instead I saw hope, breaching across the horizon in the warmth of the setting sun, as if it were a hug from a friend saying to me “Goodnight, I will see you tomorrow.”
Reminding me that after the close of the day there would be a new dawn and every dawn is a new day and every day is a new beginning. Today I am still alive because of hope, hope that change will come, hope that tomorrow will be better. Hope that was born from love. Love of myself and love shared with other people.
16-year-old me was clueless to what he would one day be able to do because of that small amount of hope he received. He was being tossed about and tumbled by the waves of emotion he was experiencing, like waves ebbing and flowing on an ocean on a moonless midnight. Too blinded and silenced by stigma to consider what the future might hold.
So, I ask you, whomever you may be and whatever your story, that you stand with me and defy stigma today and always. Shine the light of hope into the darkness and pierce the veil that has been cast upon us all. Unseal your lips and be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Lives depend upon it. One person cannot save the world, but one person can save a life.
Give someone hope.