Column: What does suicide prevention mean?

Gillian Eubanks

September is the National Suicide Prevention Month. According to statistics done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the website SAVE, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. Forty-four thousand nine-hundred and sixty-five people die a year from suicide, and someone dies every 12 minutes from suicide, as reported by the CDC. This is an especially heavy topic for many of us. But what exactly does prevention look like? 

First, let’s talk about the “check in on your friends” campaign. It is important to check on your friends or loved ones, especially when they suffer from mental illnesses, but that is not what prevention is. This campaign can put blame on the victims’ families and friends, making them feel like they didn’t do enough to help. Acting like a check-in is all that someone needs deeply minimizes their condition and their feelings. 

Prevention starts with taking away stigmas surrounding mental health and suicide. Survivors are not cowards, they are not attention seekers and they are not to be shamed. People who suffer from mental illnesses are not crazy, they are not “just making it up,” and their conditions are startlingly real. 

Prevention means receiving quality mental health care and easy access to this care. Prevention means access to food, water and affordable housing that isn’t falling apart. We are talking the quality of life here. We all know that we don’t all have the same opportunities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help those who are unfortunate enough to not have those opportunities. Successful prevention is reaching out and asking what does this person need to have the best quality of life and helping them find the resources they need to reach that goal. When someone is struggling, it can be hard for them to even speak about it to anyone, so it is important not to pressure them to talk about it, but make sure to support them. 

Suicide prevention lies partially within our health care system. There needs to be easier access to affordable, good mental health care, therapy groups, support groups, etc. People need to know that if they need help, they won’t have to worry that they can’t afford it. 

Suicide prevention should be talked about more than it is. Suicide is a very touchy subject, but it’s important that we not only acknowledge it but support the survivors of it.

 

Gillian Eubanks junior health communications major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]