September has different meanings for different people. In the Northern Hemisphere the autumnal equinox marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, and with that comes the traditional back to school shopping spree. But, that has been shifting earlier and earlier for a few years. The back to school stuff, not the equinox. And for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere, it means the end of winter with the beginning of spring due to the vernal equinox.
Here in the US, Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 which is Independence Day for many Central American countries and runs to October 14.
September is also National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, death by suicide is the 10th leading cause of death over all. (1)
It’s no secret we all suffer from depression or anxiety from time to time. We are only human, after all.
Some of us suffer from depression and/or anxiety on a continual basis but are unaware of how or unable to end the pain of either.
Some of us turn to trusted friends, or seek out professional mental health.
Far too many do neither and either suffer in silence or do something more drastic when the pain becomes unbearable.
In my life, I can recall three times when the pain became unbearable. Each time, except the last one, I sought help before considering anything drastic.
This last time, I was able to help myself, for I had learned to depend on and believe in my inner strength, no matter what happens. Plus, I came to believe that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, however long the tunnel appears to be. In addition, I focused on some other blessings I realized I had.
Do I still get overwhelmed? Yes, but now by very different issues along my new path. And, yes, I do feel like giving up sometimes because the path itself is overwhelming at times. But the Universe loves me and keeps reminding me about that and that I will be taken care of, that all will be all right in the end, and if it’s not all right, it's not the end. (I’ve seen that thought attributed both to Buddha, and John Lennon.)
But, I also have two physical reminders to keep me grounded and focused. One is permanent, mostly, and the other is designed to wear off, but I hope it never does. If it does, I will simply remedy that.
I’ll start with the semi-permanent one first.
I stumbled on the My Intent Project through a post on Facebook, and went to their page, there is a link below. I was intrigued by their mission to inspire dialogue and change through positive action. People are encouraged to choose and wear a word (their intent) which is stamped on a charm. The charm is then attached to thread and worn continuously until the string breaks signifying you have realized your intent. The charm can also be worn on a chain around the neck or attached to a keychain. The visibility of the charm is to remind you to stay focused on your word, your action, your intent. Having just retired, a bit earlier than I had planned and saved for, I was concerned with finances. I was also concerned with this new life with nothing pressing for me to do, yet feeling called (maybe pushed? encouraged?) into a new direction, but not knowing what it was going to be-some great unknown. To ease my mind, I chose the word 'SURRENDER' as I am learning to surrender into the current moment, without focusing too much on my past, which I can’t change; or my future, which I can’t control; but just on the gift of now, my present-which I accept.
I am also learning to surrender to the pain itself. Because every athlete will tell you, “No pain, no gain.” This pain is part of the growth I am experiencing. It will be over sometime.
The more permanent reminder is a small tattoo of a semicolon. I have it on the side of my right wrist just below my thumb. The meaning behind the tattoo comes from the idea that when a writer chooses to continue a sentence instead of ending it, they use a semicolon instead a period. I am the writer and my life is my sentence. I am choosing to continue. I discovered the idea of the semicolon tattoo, again through Facebook, where Project Semicolon has a page. There is a link to their website below.
One of the largest groups dying by suicide is LGBTQ youth. Many of these tragic deaths are a result of relentless anti-LGBTQ bullying. Actual statistics for LGBTQ deaths by suicide are hard to quantify because many young people are afraid to come out because of the bullying or other factors. What adds to the tragedy is that many of the victims of bullying are perceived to be LGBTQ, when in fact, they have made no such disclosure.
According to data from the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), of surveyed LGB students:
- 10% were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property
- 34% were bullied on school property
- 28% were bullied electronically
- 23% of LGB students who had dated or went out with someone during the 12 months before the survey had experienced sexual dating violence in the prior year
- 18% of LGB students had experienced physical dating violence
- 18% of LGB students had been forced to have sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. (2)
The Trevor Project is an online crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth, and there are many community centers around the world where anyone in crisis may turn for help.
Only one of my ideations about suicide was related to the possibility of being gay and being bullied about it. The others were due to depression, another leading risk factor.
Please familiarize yourself with the risk factors around suicide. There are far too many to enumerate here, but include:
- Feeling like a burden to others,
- Giving away prized possessions,
- Saying goodbye,
There is a link below to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a more complete list of risk and contributing factors.
If you or you believe someone you love is at risk, please seek professional help.
(1) NIMH Statistics
(2) 2015 YRBS