As National Suicide Prevention Week comes to a close, one of the biggest questions we want to answer is, “What comes next?” We’ve seen comments from people saying, “This is something we should do everyday,” or “Why is there only a week for this?”
Awareness weeks are wonderful because they put a spotlight on important topics and give organizations, groups, communities, and individuals ways to promote a cause they’re passionate about. They open up a crucial conversation we need to have and give us the ability to put faces and stories to issues not often talked about. They allow us to say that we don’t have to live in secret and feel ashamed. But what might be touched on during one week of suicide prevention is actually just a part of something much bigger and long-term.
At TWLOHA, we strive to challenge stigma and focus on suicide prevention every day, and we want to equip you with the ability to do the same. We’ve shared a lot of photos, stories, and blogs with you this past week, which I hope you’ll go back and read if you missed them. They are powerful reminders that your story is important.They are written in memory of those we have lost. They are reasons to stay. They embody our message for this week: “You cannot be replaced.”
Just because 2013’s National Suicide Prevention Week has come to an end doesn’t mean suicide prevention has to. Here are some ways you can help, now and every day of the year:
1. Get involved.
At TWLOHA.com, we have a variety of ways you can support suicide prevention efforts through TWLOHA. We have three specific programs that focus on communities: you can bring our high school campaign, The Storytellers, to your school, start a University Chapter on your college campus, or host a MOVE Community Conference in your city. We also have some smaller-scale ways to help that are accessible to many ages and backgrounds, including our Street Team and Supporter Benefit events.
2. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Programs
AFSP aims to bring people together to understand and prevent suicide and to help heal the pain it causes. Their website lists many different ways to cope with suicide, including a city-specific support group finder, a way to contact their Survivor Outreach Program, and a guide for how to find a grief counselor. Not only that, but this November 23rd they’ll host events all over the world for International Survivor’s of Suicide Day, which is to recognize those who have lost a loved one to suicide. They also host Out of the Darkness Community Walks across America year-round. You’ll find a TWLOHA tent at several of these throughout the year, which are listed on our calendar as they come up.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has several completely free resources about mental health available. You can order their Suicide Prevention Lifeline wallet cards and other brochures in bulk, at no cost to you. These are great resources to have at high schools, college campuses, conferences, and any public place where people gather.
4. Go to a meeting.
Even if you don’t have an addiction, consider going to an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting. It’s likely that at some point in your life you will meet someone facing addiction. Attending a meeting can help erase the stigma that we shouldn’t talk about these things. This can also be an important part of suicide prevention, as many mental health issues can be concurrent. It can positively impact your life and give you a better understanding of what walking through addiction looks like.
You can find a meeting through Intherooms.com. They list dates and times of anonymous meeting in cities around the world. All you have to do is search by your location.
5. Volunteer at a crisis center.
Call centers need people to pick up the phone. If you are looking to get involved in a powerful, tangible way, volunteer at a local crisis center. Many national hotlines have call centers in major cities, and they always need volunteers.
Beyond the list above, there are many more ways to get involved in mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Reach out in your local community. Encourage others to be open to talking about these important issues. Be accepting, supportive, and compassionate. One of the most common things we hear from people who message us is how afraid they are to tell someone about their depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction, or self-injury. They live in fear that they will be rejected, ruin their relationships, and never see change. Be a safe place for someone to come to share his or her story—and be proud to share your own.
Chloe Grabanski and the TWLOHA team
What are some other ways to be a part of suicide prevention? Feel free to leave a comment below with ideas, events, or suggestions.
**After launching our World Suicide Prevention Day / National Suicide Prevention Week campaign, we came across the organizations You Can NOT Be Replaced ® . You Can NOT Be Replaced, a charitable organization located in Manasquan, NJ, is the owner of the trademark YOU CAN NOT BE REPLACED ® . You Can NOT Be Replaced ® grew out of a desire to inspire the youth in their area, where there have been several student suicides. You can learn more about You Can NOT Be Replaced ® at www.youcannotbereplaced.com. Emily Dayton, whose family founded You Can NOT Be Replaced ®, shared here how this work has impacted her community for the better.