Behind every walk is a cause, one that ignites within us a desire for change. On Sunday October 13th, 2016 I was scheduled to go to a suicide prevention walk not far from where I reside. Suicide is something very dear to my heart, so walking for an end to it seemed like the perfect combination of school and of passion. However, doing this project raised the question: What causes suicidal thoughts and or actions? I am not speaking in terms of what experiences cause them, but what goes on deep inside the mind to cause one to take his or her own life?
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, not only is suicide the “10th leading cause of death in the United States”, for every 1 that is committed 25 are attempted and “each year 42,773 people die by way of it.”. These people seem to become victims to their own minds taking their own lives for a number of reasons from having experienced sexual assault to bullying, but deep in their brains are the chemicals causing these notions and actions. Overactive levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine cause a level of sadness so deep that the only way some know to express it is through self-inflicted pain.
So who are the people that experience this pain? They are teachers, students, sisters, cousins, moms and dads. Suicide’s grip takes hold of anyone who’s mind it is able to ease itself into. “The rate of suicide is highest in middle age-white men in particular.” and the number for teens and youth is steadily and scarily rising. Suicide itself has many stigmas behind it concerning the victims: Within the black community there is the stereotype that it does not affect African Americans or that it isn’t a mental illness or that it is easy to “pray away the depression” , that “only white people do that” or that because our ancestors struggled so much we have no reason to be depressed. There is the idea that people who commit suicide are crazy. There are so many outdated and sickening ideas behind it and so many stigmas that people are slowly becoming desensitized. The goal of these walks is to bring back and to raise awareness of these issues and hopefully put an end to them.
On a personal note, suicide is very dear issue to me. So, to conclude this piece, I would like to insert something that I wrote back in May, but one that directly correlates: “ 3 years ago, I found myself sitting in a bathroom, on the floor, music playing, pills in hand, ready to die. Crying while facing the mirror and begging God to take away my pain. 3 days ago, I found myself smiling, laughing as my friend and I began to joke during choir practice. I found myself doing homework, researching a future career, thanking God for letting me experience that pain and allowing me to grow from it. 3 years ago, I sat in my room tears spilling down my face as “Born Sinner” blasted. “I’ve got a life in my grip. She’s holding tight to my wrist. She’s screaming don’t let me slip. She sees the tears in my eyes I see the fear on her lips”. It stood out to me. 3 years ago I found myself at the altar praying to a God that I thought had forsaken me, that I thought hated me, that I thought was punishing me for something. Who knew what… but something. Lying as my pastor asked if I was alright, breaking down in the school bathroom. 3 days ago I found myself at that same altar, praying to that same God, thanking him for loving me through those same things. Thanking him for giving me a testimony to share with others. Thanking him for saving me in that bathroom 3 years ago. 3 days ago I woke up and felt confident without makeup, without nails, without lying about who I was. 3 years ago I could never say that, think it nor even fathom the idea of being remotely happy. 3 years ago I was broken. 3 days ago I accepted that I was broken. 3 minutes ago as I began writing I realized that yes I am broken but I am not destroyed. I am not incapable of love nor unworthy nor unwilling. 3 seconds ago I prayed to a living God to give me strength to write this out. 3 moments ago I did. In biblical times, 3 days later Jesus rose. 3 times in a row Probably more I messed up. 3 nights ago, I stayed up until 2am watching Netflix eating lasagna thinking about how good life is, how good God is. I suppose what I’m trying to say is there is something magical about time (and not just the 3s) and that suicidal thoughts can take over the minds of anyone . We grow, learn, we live, we get to know ourselves. If there is anything that I could say to people considering suicide, anyone at all anywhere, I would want them to realize that it gets better and they need to be around to see it. Life has rough patches, it has bathrooms and it has altars, and everything happens for a reason. Hope is always present, but it doesn’t always reveal itself to us which I think is why people so often lose it and so quickly. Sometimes we have to search for it, and like I said sometimes we find it hiding in a prayer at the altar and sometimes on a tile of the restroom floor. Time is precious, the pain they feel now is temporary, and even as I write this I’m having a hard time remembering that but it’s true. All of the hurt, the pain, the sadness, the depression will one day pass and I can’t even begin to explain the joy that will fill your heart because you were able to witness it.”