26 Sep “You Matter” by Kitty Holt
My community was recently rocked when a teenager took their own life. This was a surprise to everyone who knew this person. I don’t know what could have prevented this and don’t mean to speculate on why this individual took their life, but this event got me curious about suicide in general and how the average person can be on the lookout and help prevent it. The information below is from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Sadly, over 100 individuals in the U.S. take their life every day; over 44,000 in a year. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. While depression is the leading cause of suicide, there are many factors.
Some warning signs include what the person says (talking about killing themselves, being a burden to others, feeling they have no reason to live), how they act (increased use of alcohol or drugs, reckless behavior, isolation, too much or too little sleep, giving away possessions), and their mood (depressed, loss of interest, irritable, humiliated, anxious). A change in behavior or entirely new behaviors is a red flag.
Risk factors include mental health conditions; environmental factors (including stressful life events such as a death or job loss, prolonged stress such as bullying, access to lethal means, and exposure to suicide); and historical factors, including previous attempts or a family history.
Again, while I understand that the individual who took their life in my community did not exhibit any of these behaviors, this tragic event was a reminder to me that we can all be on the lookout for these signs.
And, perhaps, by practicing genuine caring for others, by showing each individual we meet — no matter who they are, what they look like, what they believe, how old they are, how they live — that they matter to us and to our loving God, perhaps fewer of those who feel no one cares about them would make this tragic decision.
If you, the reader of this, happen to be going through a difficult time, hold fast to God. He is always there, no matter how awful the situation or how long the season, whether your trial lasts for days, weeks, or even years. You matter to Him, more than you can imagine, and even when things make no sense.
(For more information and resources about suicide prevention, including how to talk to people you feel may be suicidal, visit afsp.org)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; (Colossians 3:12)