Commentary: Educate Yourself About Suicide
In the last 12 months, the rate of suicide in the city of Wichita has increased by 70%. And for the first time, the largest part of that increase has been in children. As adults, we too often discount the mental health struggles of our youth. We call it teen angst. We call it a mood. A phase. And yet, the CDC maintains statistics on suicide in those as young as five years old.
From the moment a person decides to take their own life to the moment that action occurs is usually less than five minutes. When someone is brave enough to share with a trusted friend or family member that they are considering this drastic action, it is too often ignored as attention-seeking behavior. How desperate must a person be, and how dark a place must they be coming from, if talking about suicide is the only way they know to get someone to pay attention to what they are trying to tell us?
Think about the words we use to talk about suicide. Attempt? As if it is something to achieve? Commit? As in commit a crime or a sin? Suicide is quite simply the last, desperate action of a human being who believes their existence to be so devoid of options that taking their own life is the only thing over which they still have control. Please educate yourself, and learn about the resources available for those you love.
Information suicide awareness, education, and prevention, and how to determine if you or your loved one needs help is at MHANational.org. KMUW’s mental health series is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.
Eric Litwiller is the director of development and communications at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.