Suicide as a concept feels huge. It maybe feels too large to exist in a simple conversation, and too scary to break down to those who don’t understand. Is it possible to pinpoint when the concept of suicide was first introduced to you? Was it mixed into a headline with other tragic news rolling across the TV screen? Was it woven into the lyrics of a song so poetically that you didn’t even catch it at first? Perhaps at a school assembly, right before recess—or from a pulpit with words like sin and shame attached. Or maybe suicide became a part of your reality when you started to think for the first time that leaving this world was better than staying, or a loved one was suddenly gone from your life too soon.
What people believe about suicide determines what people do about suicide prevention. If we as a community believe nothing can be done, nothing will be done. This is the first lie we tear down in honor of Suicide Prevention Month. Myths and misinformation have marked the conversation for too long. Both internally and externally, we hear that suicide is selfish, that our problems are too burdensome to lay on others, and that talking about it allows it to grow and deepen, and only makes the problem worse.
The truth is: Over 700,000 people die by suicide every year. These tragedies are already happening. By the time you finish reading this, we’ve likely lost someone to suicide. Every 45 seconds we lose someone too soon. The weight of this reality, the discomfort of not knowing what to say, the pain of loss, the confusion of grief, and the fear of what might happen all combine to keep us from true honesty about our experiences with suicide.
We still find shame behind our stories of survival. We leave out parts of our loved ones’ stories to avoid misplaced judgment. But suicidal thinking doesn’t gain its power in community. Its presence isn’t glorified by conversation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Not talking about it creates a cycle of loneliness for those struggling and perpetuates isolation and silence. There is room to find hope and healing in the stories of survivors. They are a living, breathing reminder of better days. Suicide doesn’t go away by not talking about it. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing that everyone has a role to play.
This is so much more than just a crisis moment—or a sprint to an imagined finish line. The efforts to prevent suicide must be integrated into our everyday lives, beliefs, and actions. The role we play starts with the way we treat each other and ourselves, the way we welcome vulnerability, and the way we make space to have nuanced conversations. The moment of intervention should not be a moment at all, but a collection of moments where you listen to yourself and honor your needs before it all becomes too heavy to bear. And when the need for urgent care arises, we must be prepared. By ensuring people have access to care when they need it, we break down the barriers that make asking for help seem impossible.
At the root, we know the topics of suicide, suicide ideation, and suicide prevention have been stained by stigma. It is likely that this stigma has been perpetuated through family, friends, pop culture, and has maybe even become a part of your own regular vernacular too. It makes sense that amidst what is often being said, the jokes being made, and the life-saving conversations that aren’t happening, we internalize that our heavy thoughts are meant to be kept under wraps. The things we label as “too heavy” to share morph into a deep nagging sense that we have become a burden.
Stigma is vicious and the primary enemy of suicide prevention.
The process of rerouting the path we’re on starts today. Hear us loud and clear when we say that while your struggles feel like burdens to carry, you yourself are not a burden. You are not defined by them. You are not a combination of your scariest thoughts and feelings. You are more than the heartache, pain, and loneliness. The weight of these things can be shared. Preserving the status quo and maintaining this normalized stigma will never outweigh the importance of you, your life, and your existence. The hope for things to get better is infinitely stronger than any lie that says things would be better if you weren’t here. If there is one truth we need you to take away from this month, it is this:
The world is not better without you.
Here’s what you can do:
Our Suicide Prevention Campaign is all about providing tangible hope. Giving people something they can hold on to and making sure they know that when they need help, resources and support will be there. Throughout the month and around the world, people show up to share their stories and raise $300,000 in crucial funds for our Treatment + Recovery Scholarship Program and FIND HELP Tool. We could not do this work without the collective effort and determination of folks across the globe. Suicide affects everyone, and this is a fight we are in together.
For more information about this year’s campaign and how you can get involved, head to the campaign page.
Whatever you are facing, there is always hope. And we will hold on to hope until you’re able to grasp it yourself. If you’re thinking about suicide, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor.