I’ll be upfront. I’m on a soapbox. I can’t help it. Yesterday I received an email from the principal of my children’s school informing me that a young lady committed suicide on Wednesday night. Since moving to Northern Virginia this is the fifth student from the two schools my children attend. The fifth. In less than two years.
I believe we are witnessing a generation self-destructing. According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the CDC states, “Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010. There were 38, 364 suicides in 2010 in the United States—an average of 105 each day.” 105 deaths a day. Do you know 105 people? Do you know 525 people? Look at your social media numbers. Now imagine those friends killing themselves. All of them. Morbid, I know but it’s time we acknowledge the morbidity of what is happening in front of our eyes.
I don’t know if you have been affected by suicide but my guess, with the statistics I just cited is, yes, you probably have been. It’s a horrible experience. And it’s one facing our children daily. “Among 15-24 year olds, suicide accounts for 20% of all deaths annually.” Numbers and statistics can seem impersonal, sterile, so let me bring it closer to home. Does your child have 10 friends? Pick which 2 will kill themselves this year. Does that make you cringe? It should. It should make you angry. It makes me angry. It also makes me very, very sad.
I want to do something. I cannot just sit here and watch our future self implode. I can’t pretend to know every reason why someone makes this terminal decision but I can tell you that I am familiar with many of the reasons. I have lost friends to suicide. Our family has grieved over the devastation of suicide. Our family has experienced the uncertainty of watching a loved one who is desperate, hopeless, and seeking relief to look at suicide as an answer.
Suicide is not the answer. It will never be the answer. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But the bigger problem is what are we going to do about it. How are we going to stop it? Can it be stopped? As I look into the faces of children my answer is, “I hope so,” because one more person lost to suicide is one too many.
I will finish my soapbox tirade with a quote from the father of my daughter’s classmate who took his life last year. “There was something going on his mind, but he didn’t give me a chance to do anything.” The reasons for suicide are vast and often hard to understand but this our chance to do something about it. We have a chance to do something about it. We have a chance to speak life into the lives of those around us. Are you willing?
*If you or someone you know is thinking or talking about suicide please don’t wait until it’s too late. Call 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone who can help you. Life is worth the fight.