This blog post comes to you at a time when many of us try to slow down and appreciate the longer summer days.
Many of us wish we could slow down time altogether and, we often hear the lament that as we grow older, time seems to pass more quickly. This is especially true during the summer season - which feels so fleeting.
While it is vacation time for many, we are busy gearing up for September.
World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th and National Suicide Prevention Week September 10 - 16th.
These events provide us with opportunities to encourage people who are struggling with suicidal behavior to seek help, to assist friends, family members, and helping professionals in supporting individuals who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and to expand the number of people who are actively engaged in suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
But these goals require more than just shouting our messages from the rooftops or designating a day, week, or month to focus attention on suicide prevention. They require an informed and serious conversation. For far too long, conversations about suicide - if they took place at all - have focused on hopelessness, despair, and inevitability. But both research and practice show us that suicide can be prevented. We know that individuals at risk for suicide can overcome this risk and live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives. We know that applying evidence-based practices and delivering comprehensive and integrated prevention programs can reduce the rates of suicide in populations. September provides us with an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to changing the conversation about suicide from one of despair and inevitability to one of hope, health and resilience. We can frame our messages to encourage hope.; we can remind people at risk that there is hope.; we can remind friends and families that there is help; and we can remind clinicians and other care providers that they can help.
During the week of September 10th, Response Crisis Center, in partnership with the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Long Island will be launching a social media campaign from the rooftops of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The campaign is called #BeThe1To. It outlines how we can help in 5 steps:
#BeThe1To KEEP THEM SAFE.
#BeThe1To BE THERE.
#BeThe1To HELP THEM CONNECT.
For more information about each of these 5 steps, check out the Suicide Prevention Toolkit on the NSPL's website or Customize Your Own Graphics for the #BeThe1To Campaign.
Those of us in the field of suicide prevention will be doing a lot this September. We'll be reaching out, speaking out, and lighting candles. But let's also use September to renew our dedication to continuing to reframe and expand the national conversation about suicide and, by doing so, turn hurt to hope, pain to promise, and anguish to action.
We are also preparing for our Fall Training of new crisis counselors.
While most counselors come to Response with a desire to do meaningful work and learn how to help our neighbors in crisis, there are also real benefits, both physical and psychological, to helping others. For more than 35 years, researchers have been studying the impact of kindness and compassion on our bodies and minds. The results are not surprising - one of the best ways to promote your own physical and mental health is to concentrate on helping others. The 'helper’s high' we have all heard about is real - the body releases endorphins, it's natural pain reducing chemicals. In addition to relieving pain, endorphins also produce a sense of calmness and a releif of stress.
It's nice when science catches up with intuition and validates what we all have known all along - that giving of oneself to others is a win-win.
So, as we endeavor to slow down this summer and savor the passage of time, consider joining our social media campaign during suicide prevention week in September or joining our team of crisis counselors by attending our Fall training.
Until then, whether it's a staycation, a vacation, or a momentary reverie – enjoy the long, languid days of summer!
If you're struggling, call Response Crisis Center at (631) 751-7500