Today we are going to be talking about why we need to end the stigma surrounding suicide.

It has been my experience that unless someone has actually experienced a loss or an attempt from someone they know and loved suicide, most people will put their blinders on that it’s even happening in the world. Perhaps they think to themselves, Oh, that will never happen to me, or anybody that I care about. I also had a fellow classmate say to me when I shared that my sister had passed away and that she had died by suicide. He replied, jeez, that sucks. So as you can imagine, I felt terrible. And you know, Shame on him for even saying that, because there is a plethora of words in the English language that could have described how he failed and he could have easily changed that too. I’m so sorry for your loss. But he didn’t. Instead, he chose to say Jeez, that sucks. Or perhaps even their response is completely out of left field and leaves you at a loss for words, just like what happened to me, when he said that for another example of this is I had a coach that was commenting on the uptick of suicides that have been happening throughout the pandemic.

And then of course, continuing forward that coach responded with, that’s a bummer. Oh, my goodness. Again, we want to have compassion, we want to have understanding. And I think it’s really important to note that as someone that’s lost a loved one to suicide, I’m not looking for someone to empathize with me, because I understand that hopefully, most people can’t empathize with me, meaning they haven’t been in my shoes, they, haven’t had a loss of a loved one to suicide. But what I’m looking for is for people to sympathize with me and understand that a loss is a loss. And especially when it comes to losing a loved one to suicide, it adds another layer of complexity. And it adds another layer of pain that unless you’ve experienced it’s really challenging to help the other person understand that and know that what you’re looking for is sympathy, you’re not looking for empathy, because like I said earlier just a second ago that hopefully, they haven’t experienced that loss.

The Stigma Around Suicide

Unfortunately, because we are seeing this uptick in suicides. There’s so much stigma around it, and you’re going to have comments. Hopefully not as insensitive and naive as some of these comments might be, there is still this dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about. Why is that? I refer to the stigma around suicide as like sex among teenagers. Why do I even say this? Because sex is one of those topics that we as adults know is happening among teenagers and young adults. And yet, we are so hesitant to bring it up in conversations. Let’s be real for a moment. You and I were once teenagers. If we didn’t, or we did have sex, we still knew about it. We all heard the rumors in the halls at high schools about so and so that got knocked up. And as graduating this spring, everybody hears this right? It happens in these establishments in our institutions, and yet we are so hesitant to even bring it up in conversation. And here’s the thing, which I find so ironic is you hear these rumors in the halls at school in like colleges and high schools and all of that about these people you know getting knocked up and then they’re graduating.

But here’s the thing you never hear or see from these people again after you finally graduate. But still, my point is this just because we know about something doesn’t mean it stops the thing from actually occurring. That thing could be sex, it could be suicide, or it could be any other topic along these lines that still occurs even when we know its existence, which then leads me back to the question I asked earlier. Why?

We have all heard the saying Knowledge is power. But I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is kind of bullshit. Excuse my language. But I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is kind of bullshit. Excuse my language. Because, as I illustrated earlier in my analogy, in my example, of sex among teenagers, we have the knowledge about it, I believe we still teach sex ed in schools, although by the time you were listening to this episode, maybe we’ve gotten rid of this teaching program inside our school systems. However, whether you agree or disagree that we should keep a teaching program such as sex ed and our school systems is really irrelevant.

What’s more crucial is that we are having the conversation if the conversation around the dinner table or on the television, trust me, I cringe as I am saying that out loud around the television because as a side note, my family growing up was very intentional with having dinner around the dinner table. That was just something that we did. But nonetheless, if you’re having dinner as a family around the dinner table, or if it is around the television, we are still having the Crucial Conversation, which again, is another good book, Crucial Conversations. If you haven’t read it, I would dare say that this conversation around suicide, people that are struggling, and our mental health and our mental well-being and our overall, well-being in general, including our mental health, I would dare say that this is by far the most crucial conversation that you will ever have with someone as if they are in fact contemplating suicide.

But can you think of a more crucial conversation to have with someone if they are struggling behind closed doors, and are seeking help? And if they’re struggling behind closed doors, I can just remember my sister, and she did struggle behind closed doors. And she was adamant about being vocal about it about her struggles. How can we start to have this conversation? How can we begin to have such a pivotal conversation like this? What would we even say? How would we respond? Are we afraid of what they might respond to? Are we afraid of what might happen when we do have this conversation? 

Maybe you’re even thinking to yourself, Crystal? Are they even going, to be honest? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I mess up? How do we even begin to have this conversation with someone that I love and care about and maybe they aren’t even showing signs? Maybe they are putting on that brave face like I know that my sister did for so long pretending that it was okay pretending that everything in her life was not perfect. I felt like given everything that’s happened and looking back on her life. I feel like my sister was really wanting to keep up this appearance, this illusion that she was fine when she really wasn’t. Let’s circle back to what we say. And how do we even begin that conversation, especially when you are talking about something as sensitive as suicide and suicide ideation?

The Talk That Saves Lives

Thankfully, I have a dear friend who shared with me exactly what to say when you are ready to have the talk that saves lives. And that’s actually my friend Jackie has coined this. This guide if you will is the talk that saves lives. And if you are ready to end the stigma around suicide, I want to personally invite you to schedule a call with me so that we can go through the guide together. And I will be able to walk you through the series of four questions that allows you to then take this guide and ask the people in your life these exact, four questions. And it gives you a framework because at the end of the day, I feel like that’s almost what kind of holds us back in a sense, that we’re just looking for a framework.

Okay, how do I even begin? What do I say? And like I said, Jackie is phenomenal at having this guide, be a starting point, to have that conversation. And I would just ask, from the bottom of my heart, as someone that has lost a loved one to suicide, don’t wait to have this conversation with the people in your life because you never know who is struggling behind closed doors. As my good friend Jackie says, after having the conversation with me and going through this guide with me, she says heaven doesn’t need another angel. Heaven knows we need them here. And I couldn’t agree more with her. I would give anything to have my sister back.

And I know if you have lost a loved one to suicide, you feel the exact same way. No amount of money, no amount of technology. It doesn’t matter if we could go back in time, we absolutely would. Yeah, we can’t. As someone that has lost a loved one to suicide, you are naturally a proponent of talking about suicide and allowing that conversation to be had. Even though it’s scary, even though it’s hard. You naturally are an advocate for living. You naturally say to everyone in your life, I love you. flaws. And all I hear from people often say, well, Crystal, you don’t know what it’s like you don’t know what my family was like or you don’t know, I don’t have that support system in my life. But I promised you, you do.

Maybe these people in your life are struggling to open up and just connect with you. Maybe you need to speak up and be that voice for yourself and be open and say you know what, I’m really struggling here and I’m not going to hide in the shadows anymore. Maybe that is the most the bravest thing. And the most courageous thing that you can ever do is to sit and to say to someone that you care about who you trust, I’m struggling. I need help. Please help me, friend.

Let’s end the stigma. Let’s stop the suicides from happening. I know that might seem like a lofty goal, an impossible goal if you think about it from a practical and realistic standpoint. But oh my goodness, we have to try. We must have this conversation with the people in our lives, we must do something. And from someone that has lost a loved one to suicide. I beg you from the bottom of my heart to let the people know in your life how much they’re loved. Because when you do you can save their life.

Always Remember You Are Loved 💜

P.S. I would be so grateful if you would rate and review the podcast. And as always, remember, you are loved. Until next time, thanks for tuning in and listening to this episode of The You Are Loved Podcast. For more information about suicide prevention be sure to check out owlandthistle.com and if you’re coping with the loss of a loved one due to suicide, we’ve been there too. And for more information, check out our sister company found at scatteringhope.com. Please like it subscribes to this program to stay current with all of our episodes. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Owl and Thistle or Facebook and Instagram for Scattering Hope.

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