When we picked today, August 15, as the date to announce our plans for National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8 -14) and the pre-sale for our World Suicide Prevention Day pack, the fact that it would also be my birthday didn’t cross my mind at first. But when it did, it got me thinking about birthdays and about the meaning of TWLOHA’s theme for this year’s NSPW: “You Cannot Be Replaced.”
The concept for NSPW and birthdays kind of go hand-in-hand. Birthdays are supposed to be a celebration of your life and all the days you have ahead. Birthdays are a thing built around the message, “You cannot be replaced.”
But sometimes, it’s easier to believe the opposite.
During high school, I struggled with depression and anxiety. Sometimes, birthdays became a source of deep turmoil instead of joy. Those feelings often lingered long after August 15, and I remember the constant undercurrent of feeling replaceable. I thought I didn’t have a specific part to play, that my life didn’t make an impact on the world. Often, I felt like it wouldn’t matter if I were here one day and gone the next. Some of those feelings came from growing pains and normal changes that all teenagers go through—but some of them would follow me as I walked through the next stages of my life. I remember always feeling adequate, never extraordinary.
But then, I began a search for things that would remind me I was special and had a purpose in the world. I did all that I could to make positive, healthy changes in my life. I moved from California back home to North Dakota. I reconnected with family. I changed majors. I changed jobs. I found new friends. And then, a lot of little things and a few big things happened to bring me here, to TWLOHA. Throughout the years and changes leading up to that point, I had finally learned how much one voice, one story, or one person can make a difference.
Which brings me back to TWLOHA’s theme for National Suicide Prevention Week. This year, organizations like the American Association of Suicidology, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and the World Health Organization are using NSPW to recognize stigma as a barrier to suicide prevention. This is so incredibly important in changing the way the world views mental health. TWLOHA is passionate about erasing stigma because it prevents people from reaching out to get help, causes people to suffer silently, divides families and communities, and results in individuals taking their own lives. The evidence is in the numbers: recent estimates say 350 million people worldwide struggle with depression—the leading cause of suicide—and yet, we’ve learned two-thirds of those people don’t get help.
These are the statistics, and many of them are driven by stigma. By lies. By the deceptive idea which many, including myself, have believed at some point: that your life doesn’t matter and there is no hope. But TWLOHA is here to say, “You cannot be replaced.” And for National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day, we’re inviting you to do the same.
Below you’ll find more details about how you can get involved with this important and life-saving campaign. TWLOHA wants to thank you in advance for joining us for this week of awareness, remembrance, and prevention.
You cannot be replaced.
1. Pick up our World Suicide Prevention Day pack.
Each pack includes a shirt, bracelet, design print, and set of info cards. These materials feature our “You Cannot Be Replaced” design and the colors yellow and orange, which are often associated with suicide prevention. All of these items are meant to equip you to spread awareness about suicide prevention in your community. Use them as conversation starters, personal reminders, or encouraging educational tools to pass out to others. If you wear your WSPD materials at any time leading up to or during WSPD, send a photo to [email protected] so we can share it with our supporters. And be sure to wear the shirt and bracelet on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10! (We’ll be wearing ours, too.)
2. Get the word out on social media.
Change your profile photos, cover photos, and backgrounds on your social media accounts using our NSPW social media assets. Throughout the week, share what you’re doing to create awareness for suicide prevention using the hashtags #NSPW13 (for National Suicide Prevention Week) and #WSPD13 for (World Suicide Prevention Day). Don’t forget to tag @TWLOHA on Instagram and Twitter so we can see how your community is getting involved!
3. Tell us: Why can’t you be replaced?
Download this printable PDF and write about your worth by sharing a reason you believe you cannot be replaced. Email it to us a [email protected] so we can share it during NSPW. (You can also post it on social media by tagging @TWLOHA and using the #NSPW13 or #WSPD13 hashtag.)
4. Donate toward suicide prevention.
Help us meet the financial needs of challenging the stigma of suicide and providing support and treatment for those affected by it.
$5 – Send an acknowledgement to a family who has lost a loved one to suicide
$30 – Send flowers to a family who has lost a loved one to suicide
$50 – Provide 150 days of calls to a crisis hotline
$110 – Provide one session for a counseling scholarship
$500 – Provide 1,300 Find Help resource pamphlets/250 info cards for awareness
$1,000 – Provide one day of inpatient treatment
After launching our World Suicide Prevention Day / National Suicide Prevention Week campaign, we came across the organization You Can NOT Be Replaced, located in Manasquan, NJ. YCNBR grew out of a desire to inspire the youth in their area, where there have been several student suicides since 2008. Though our campaign is not connected to their organization, we do believe in their work, which you can learn more about here.