Wednesday, September 10

these small acts | national suicide prevention week

Four years ago I was sitting in a lecture hall when I heard the whispers of classmates. Words small and broken rumbled through the room. A student committed suicide in the dorms last night. What was his name? What happened? Was anyone there?

Did I know him?

I didn't know him, as it turned out. He was my age. We'd probably passed each other on campus. We probably liked the same bands. We could have had a lot in common but I didn't know. I would never know him.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24. And two-thirds of people with depression do not seek treatment.

The more I read and researched, the more I realized that I did know him.
He was the girl who came to the library every Saturday night to check out comic books. He was the guy in my political science class who always sat alone. He was our waitress. Hurt is everywhere, if you are willing to pay attention.

Today is National Suicide Prevention Day. I spent most of this morning remembering the boy from the dorms. I don't know what went through his mind four years ago. I wish he was still alive and that his story was still going. I wonder if a conversation could have saved him.

Prevention sounds like such a clinical word. It seems to belong to doctors and firefighters- people who are equipped or qualified. Perhaps the point of today is to take that word back.

To say that we can start conversations. We can notice people who are overwhelmed and listen. Maybe prevention is just a fancy word for loving people the best way you know how. Listening and talking, asking questions, drinking coffee, telling stories- these small acts remind us that none of us are alone.

Four years ago I was sitting in a lecture hall when I heard the whispers of classmates. I didn't join the conversation. I think I got out my notebook and waited for class to start. I honestly can't really remember. Today, in my mind, I imagine it differently.

I turn to the girl sitting next to me and start with three words.

How are you?

For more information on suicide prevention check out:
To Write Love On Her Arms
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High School Students

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