The following is intended to cause no offense nor commentary towards daylogs from earlier today.

World Suicide Prevention Day
September 10

Odds are when you're reading this, September 10th will have passed, and so I guess I'm a tad late with the message. But you might ask yourself why the heck even have a specific day for such a thing. I liken it to something most people are more comfortable with: breast cancer awareness. Nearly everyone knows somebody who has had breast cancer, probably somebody close to them. Breast cancer awareness is combination a support system for those coping with the illness, celebrating those who have survived the ordeal of breast cancer treatment, and informing the healthy of how to identify the signs of the disease. As it is with suicide prevention awareness.

Many of the parallels stop there, unfortunately. Although most people who have undergone cancer treatments are willing, if not happy, to tell their stories of overcoming adversity, talk of suicide is often muted and embarrassed. Some find it shameful to even talk about the idea of suicide, and so you might not even want to admit you've thought about it. There just isn't an iconic image of a suicide survivor proudly proclaiming how she overcame her depression and has become a survivor. Not cured, but coping. The moments of weakness that brought her to that place somehow always remain a burden, rather than a low point that she has grown past.

The intent of organizing a day to spread suicide prevention awareness is to create a "buzz" so that there is, at least for a short time, a feeling that is safe to talk about this often-touchy subject. And, hopefully, some of the more motivated people will learn how to recognize the warning signs of suicide. Discussing suicide frankly and honestly reduces suicide rates. There is a worry by some that talking about suicide will increase the tendency to commit suicide. This is not the case. It is true that sensationalized news coverage of suicides (just as with gun rampages) will sometimes kick off "suicide clusters", but this is largely a function of how the news is reported, not a direct cause of discussing the topic itself.

Being afraid to talk about suicide is bad because it prevents people from receiving support when they need it most, when they are considering suicide. Worse, most people who have attempted suicide in the past do not wish to let those close to them know. But those are the people who need to be most open because previous suicide attempts greatly increase the likelihood that somebody will successfully commit suicide.

In the interest of reducing that stigma, I should say I've gone through suicidal periods. I never had formal treatment, and I certainly did not make the business widely known. I never went to a hospital, and maybe I should have. Despite an excess of planning, I never made an attempt on my own life. My life was likely saved by more people than ever will know. It hasn't happened for years now, thank goodness. I'd like to imagine that I've learned how to cope with things better, learned to recognize the signs that things are going too badly for me to deal entirely on my own. But for all the value of accumulated wisdom and insight into myself, I think my increased stability has as much to do with age having damped the natural oscillations of hormones and hence emotion.

Suicide is very often preventable. Although it is often the result of a long period of depression, and the underlying causes are not easily resolved, just being present for a person during a time of crisis can save his life. If you have the time, educate yourself to the warnings signs.

Listen, I know E2 has more than its fair share of people who've coped with suicide and suicidal ideation, so maybe I'm preaching to the choir. But if even a single person saves a life because they felt more comfortable talking about suicide, the world is a better place for this. If nothing else, do it for your own self interest. It is devastating to deal with the loss of a loved one through suicide. Not only do you lose the person who made up part of who you were, you become filled with a sense of guilt that you should have somehow figured things out, seen the signs, and done that one thing that would have somehow made it all better. Just like the depression that led to that guilt, there is no good explanation for it, and it never entirely goes away.

Keep living.