You are not alone
When I was a kid, my family took yearly road trips to New Mexico. My grandparents owned a few acres of land in a small, rural town. I remember riding with my Papa in his tractor, smiling my biggest smile because I felt free, and I loved being with him. My grandfather had a deep, loud voice and was a big man – over 6 feet tall. From my point of view, he was the most powerful man in the world.
I’ll always remember April 20, 1999. That was the day my grandfather called our house, and there was a shaking in his voice that I had never heard before. We found out that just hours ago, my uncle had died by suicide. The news was sudden and final. My parents, sister and I had no idea that something had been gravely wrong in his life. I wondered what would have happened if my family had known what my uncle was going through. If we could have talked to him, would he have gotten help?
Since then, I have learned more about my family. We have a history of depression and other mental health conditions that have been passed down genetically. Chances are high that my uncle lived with depression and never received treatment. Knowing this didn’t take away the loss that I felt – nothing could. But it did fill in one piece of the puzzle. I could see the picture of his story a little more clearly.
What do we know about suicide?
- There is one death by suicide in the United States every 12 minutes, taking the lives of over 38,000 every year. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults.1
- In El Paso County, the suicide rate among young people under 18 years old has increased alarmingly, from 7 completed suicides in 2014 to 15 completed suicides in 2016.2
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are three times more likely than straight youth to attempt suicide at some point in their life. 41% of transgender adults said they had attempted suicide in one study.
- Every day, 20 veterans die by suicide.3
- Females are more likely than males to have had suicidal thoughts, and they attempt suicide three times as often as males. But, completed suicide among males is four times higher than among females.4
Hope is there, even in our rock bottoms.
Almost all of us find ourselves hitting a rock bottom at some point in our lives. My rock bottoms have been places where I felt lost and broken. I had lost my sense of security and personal value. The ways I had learned to live didn’t work anymore. The world appeared hostile to me.
Most people who attempt or complete suicides have a mental health condition, like depression.5 This means that during hard circumstances, they experience painful and confusing symptoms that intensify what they’re going through.
The good news is that even in these times, help is possible. Mental health conditions are treatable, and more and more people are breaking through the stigma to find resources that help them recover. When I could receive the resources and support that I needed, I came to see that no matter how hard things get, there is another side where life is better.
More than anything else, it is the people around us who make the most powerful difference in our ability to survive and recover from struggles with suicide. We can offer hope to someone who is suicidal by being there, having some supportive tools and knowing about the right resources.
If you are concerned that someone you know may be suicidal, there are tools and resources that can help.
If you need help for yourself, reach out to one of our local mental health resources or call us at The Independence Center: 719-471-8181.
1 Center for Disease Control.
3 Military Times (2016)
4 For more information about suicide, visit www.save.org
5 American Association of Suicidology, 2007