Encourage, lift and strengthen one another.
For the positive energy spread to one will be felt by us all.
For we are connected, one and all.
~ Deborah Day
It was a used Pacific bike, and for $10, it was the perfect answer to his getting to his new job. The people at his workplace became like family. He came out of the house one morning to discover several spokes clipped from his tire, enough that he didn’t think it could withstand his weight. Why would someone play such a mean trick on him? He began to think that he would not get to work, that the people at work would be upset with him for not showing up, and that he couldn’t pay his bills if he didn’t get paid for work. The thoughts were taking over his mind. The folks at work probably wouldn’t miss him. Maybe he should just not be here anymore. In that moment, the man needed anyone to remind him of Day’s words, that we are connected – one and all.
Text HOME to 741741 if you are feeling depressed, anxious, or suicidal and chat with a real person
Just then, his phone rang. It was his boss calling to see where he was. Through tears, he explained what was wrong with his bike and how he knew they probably just wish he didn’t even work there. To his surprise, though, his boss assured him that just like the spokes on the wheel of his bike, he was a spoke on the wheel of their team, and spokes matter. He asked what he could do to help him get the bike repaired. And just like that, the man went from being suicidal to believing he had a place in the world.
We hear more about suicide today than we once did. Life is competitive and people are quick to judge. Social Media is surely a catalyst for some occurrences – online bullying, false glamour, and embellished lifestyles play into a person’s thinking, and while some of you will stand back and shake your head, the pressure is very real.
1-800-273-TALK(8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The questions we need to ask are
Why. Life is not easy, and we each handle the stress, the sadness, the struggles differently. Research has shown that it is when economic times are worst that suicide rates rise. All too often, people just can’t see a way out of their circumstances. Death is the solution that seems to make sense to them. People feel overwhelmed by all that life is throwing at them. Failed relationships, failed dreams, feeling like they’ve failed the people in their lives, or failure to see a way to change life’s course all are reasons people consider suicide as a way out. All of these situations create a place for depression and other mental health issues to explode.
Who.Of the more than 1.4 million attempted suicides in 2017, 77% of the 47,000 successes were committed by white men. The remaining 11,000 suicides were committed by a variety of the population, but what is most concerning is the rise in the percentage of suicides (and attempts) of teenagers. In a study of youth in 2017, it was learned that 7.8% of students in 9th-12th grades had attempted suicide. No group is without victims.
What. We can choose to stop poking fun at people who aren’t handling life as well as we think they should. We can choose to stop telling kids to stop being babies when they complain that they are being picked on or that a romantic interest has soured. We can choose to stop shutting people down and shaming them. Those are choices we can make in our daily lives that take just a little effort. When we can clearly see that someone is struggling, we can make time to listen and to encourage. We can also learn to watch for signs. If you see someone making suicidal statements on social media, pay attention. Alert the administrators of the platform, alert family members, and in cases when you fear someone is about to take their own life, alert the authorities. Care about people.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own struggles and concerns, but we simply must make an effort to be aware of what is happening with people around us. In my state of Tennessee, 1,111 people died by suicide two years ago. Some were people who wanted to keep their families from dealing with the impact of a health issue, some were people who felt that they were never going to measure up in the eyes of society, and many were just overwhelmed with emotions that kept building into a deep depression.
You who are reading this thinking of how life is just not what you thought it would be, that you are not who you hoped you would be, seeing no way out — yet, I tell you that you are not alone. Text HOME to 741741 if you are feeling depressed, anxious, or suicidal and chat with a real person. I tried the chat. It was amazing how different I felt at the end of our conversation. While I might not have been suicidal, I deal with issues that made our conversation very meaningful and beneficial.
We are not alone. We live in this world connected. Look around you and encourage someone else, give them a little of your strength. You never know when your simple words might be the reminder another person needs that they are, indeed, as important as the spokes on a wheel. Be someone’s light or search for someone who can be your light.
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”— Albus Dumbledore, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” J.K. Rowling