It’s time to start talking about it

It’s a sticky subject, suicide is.

It’s uncomfortable to talk about, someone taking his or her own life. A slew of “what ifs” that can never be answered. A laundry list of “whys” follows. The act itself can swallow survivors whole with guilt, sorrow, anger, and more questions than answers.

The stigma attached to suicide is strong. In fact, journalists are discouraged from reporting on suicides except for three specific circumstances. The fear is if killing oneself is glorified, it may encourage others to seek their “15 minutes of fame” in a similar fashion. The old adage of doing no harm is in play, and most suicides go unreported in the press.

A movement has been afoot in Polk County for a couple of years to stop the stigma, instead encouraging people to seek help. Rather than simply posting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and expecting anyone who may be contemplating ending his or her own life to call, the Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition reached out to youths to communicate that you are not alone.

Students at Central High School put together a video showing that everyone needs to talk — even the jock and popular girl. Everyone has insecurities, problems at home, stress and pressures. It’s OK to get counseling or reach out for help. When you see someone in distress, it’s OK to ask (#OK2Ask) about it and be that person who listens.

The Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition offers suicide prevention training to students and adults. Some programs are free; other, more in-depth seminars cost a nominal fee. Right now, classes at Central and Dallas high schools have taken these suicide prevention trainings. Students see an issue and have taken steps to help their peers through the tough, high-school years.

But it doesn’t stop there. Thoughts of suicide don’t necessarily become a thing of the past like proms, Friday Night Lights, school plays and raging hormones. We must remain diligent as a society, keeping our eyes out for each other, lifting each other up when we see friends (or strangers) slipping into despair.

For those who are considering suicide, know that there is help. You may feel alone, that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but you aren’t alone. There is a light. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now. Make an appointment with your school counselor.

Grasp on to hope.

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