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Students Bring Awareness To Suicide Prevention Month
September 30, 2022
September is Suicide Prevention Month, a month of sadness, remembrance and a chance to give moral support to others in need. Suicide prevention helps those who are struggling with their mental health and brings awareness to those who think they’re alone in their journey to happiness and through their own emotions.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of ChicagoTherapist
Student Shines Light on The Importance of Suicide Prevention
With the advent of Suicide Prevention Month in September, a large percentage of the uninformed population may be wondering why exactly it needs to be observed. A large majority of the population does not deal with major mental crises, and this can lead to believing that no one deals with these problems. However, there is also a large population of people who do deal with mental health issues, which are often lifelong and damaging.
Mental Health has been stigmatized for decades upon decades, and it still is to some extent. Various myths exist regarding mental health, and these have caused irrevocable damage to people with mental health issues. They include thinking people who have mental health problems are violent, therapy being a waste of time and even that mental health problems are due to personal flaws such as being lazy or weak. These can cause people who have mental health issues to be discriminated against by those who do not have them.
This has been a problem for numerous decades, and led to the rise of mental health awareness in recent years. Part of this increasing awareness is the observation of Suicide Prevention Month in September, which includes spreading information regarding mental illness and resources those who are feeling suicidal can refer to.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 14 and the third leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the U.S. Referring resources to young people who could end up becoming one of these statistics could save an untold number of lives.
People with mental illness are not just dealing with the illness itself, but also with treatment. Treatment for mental health issues can come in numerous forms, including therapy and medication, as well as others. To begin with, finding treatment itself can be quite challenging. Finding therapists who are both close to you and specialize in your specific area of treatment can be difficult, and people who are seeking them often have to rely simply on word of mouth. Thankfully, mental health care is a growing industry, with numerous help lines being set up to provide help towards those in need, such as the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline and the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ hotline at 800-950-NAMI. These can provide care for people who are struggling with mental illness and possibly even contemplating suicide without leaving their homes.
However, many forms of mental health care, such as therapy or medication, can be prohibitively expensive, much more so than physical health care. It can cost anywhere from $65 to $250 without insurance, according to therapist directory GoodTherapy.org. A majority of people who need care are paying those prices as well; according to Mental Health America, 11.1% of Americans with a mental illness are uninsured.
All of this makes living with a mental illness, especially in America, a tremendous task, not only because of the illness itself, but also the consequences of it. Those who have the ability to stand up to the odds and be successful while living with mental health issues should be celebrated not only during Suicide Prevention Month but every day as well.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Ellie Broadway
Senior Shares Her Battles With Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, examining the inside of someone’s head is far more important than judging physical characteristics. A person who seems like they are handling work just fine could be fighting every day just to complete basic tasks. Similar to a flower, one’s needs must be nurtured in order to grow. When given time and care, the bud opens up. In certain cases, those who have been through a long journey are willing to share what they have experienced.
Struggling with depression and anxiety, senior Ellie Broadway stresses that mental illness is not something someone should take lightly. Broadway believes that people need to educate themselves before judging someone.
There are everyday challenges that people with mental battles face. There is no telling when or how someone would feel at any given moment. Someone whose mind is under attack could feel symptoms of panic or even
“Sometimes the little things strike a nerve and I’ll randomly get quiet and sad. I usually recognize when this happens but it’s hard when there’s nothing you can do to help yourself. Randomly feeling sad just comes and goes in waves. It comes out of nowhere and I feel like people don’t understand this,” Broadway said.
When facing an episode, it could be hard to organize how exactly Broadway is feeling. Despite this, Broadway knows that does not mean there are no ways to escape.
“My biggest thing that I encourage is reaching out. There are so many people that you can talk to even if it doesn’t feel like it,” Broadway said. “It’s easy to push away your emotions but in the long run that makes everything worse. It’s good to open up.””
— Ellie Broadway
“I’ve learned that journaling helps me cope when my mind is racing and I don’t feel like talking to anyone,” Broadway said. “Half the time I don’t even know how to express what I’m feeling and writing is a way to let out those emotions privately.”
Mental illness is unpredictable but it is not undefeatable. There are many ways to ground oneself in times of turmoil and there are many outlets to reach out to.
“My biggest thing that I encourage is reaching out. There are so many people that you can talk to even if it doesn’t feel like it,” Broadway said. “It’s easy to push away your emotions but in the long run that makes everything worse. It’s good to open up.” Going to therapy has significantly helped with Broadway’s anxiety and has even taught her problem solving skills. Those skills have assisted her in times when the outcome would have been frightful. Broadway encourages others to surround themselves with those who bring the best out of them and find time to do things they love.
The feeling of comfort plays an important part in healing and enables her to experience familiarity and peace.
“I make sure I make time for myself to do things that make me happy whether it’s watching a movie with my mom or reading by myself outside. My friends always make things better so I make sure I spend time with them as well,” Broadway said.
Instead of disconnecting from people, Broadway puts in the time to socialize with friends, plan out events, and go on road trips with them.
“I’m happy that I’m able to help spread awareness and to let people know that it’s okay to not be okay. I don’t want people to feel like they have to go through their battle alone,” Broadway said.
It is important to recognize that those with uncommon symptoms of mental illness should be approached with an open mind as well. “I struggle with depression and delusions,” Anonymous said. “My delusions are what affect me most as they often make me question what around me is really happening and can border on hallucinations.” Due to the fear-based stigma of these symptoms, Anonymous finds it difficult to share their thoughts with others in fear that their feelings would be invalidated by those around them. Society looks down upon those who experience visual conjurings of stress, labeling them as crazy psychopaths. Such stigmas are harmful for individuals who are trying to seek help because it paints them out to be dangerous.
Anonymous also faces difficulties when it comes to performing actions that society deems easy, such as getting out of bed to get ready.
Similar to Broadway, Anonymous finds comfort in interacting with those they are close to, finding solace in each other. Anonymous feels that doing so makes them feel most comfortable and human. By vocalizing their inner thoughts to someone or something, weight is lifted off their chest.
“To others who struggle with their mental health know that your issues no matter what they are are nothing to be ashamed of and that keeping it all in and away from those closest to you may seem helpful, it will just make you feel more pent up,” Anonymous said.
Photo Credit: Illustration by Olivia Lake
Survivor Shares Her Struggle With Mental Health
Suicide. It is the second leading cause of death in teens. And teens are taking their lives every day. Sometimes the signs are clear but other times they are not. Let me share my personal story with you and tell you about what happened to me.
My story of dealing with suicide has been scary and I thought it was something that I would never have to go through, but I did. But as a person who has gone through this experience in my life, I can tell you that there is hope.
I was already battling my depression and anxiety unnoticeably. My parents nor any of my family knew about my issue. I was suffering in silence. I was in the darkest part of my life and during that time it revealed how imperfect I was. I was constantly isolated and confined to the thoughts that kept me depressed and feeling unloved.
I am just going to tell you that all of my life I have tried to be perfect for other people. My family, God, my friends, and people around who I felt were watching my every move. I felt that trying to please those around me was most important. I took no consideration for my own needs because I did not matter.
The scariest thought that I had was ‘what if’. What if they did find out or choose to push me away? What if I did go through with it and take my own life? I could not imagine the other side of this as me coming out alive.
The moment when it happened, the moment the thoughts of ending my life happened was in class. I was sitting there and all of a sudden my mind surged with these inflicting thoughts. I was trapped and I could not escape.
In my moment of desperation, I prayed in hope of an answer. I asked my teacher if I could step out for a second. I tried calling my mom, no answer. So I waited until my next class. I called a second time and she answered and I told her, crying on the phone, what had just happened.
She told me to stay where I was and that she was going to call the school for help. I waited there alone with my thoughts afraid of what they might say to me. Next thing I know the nurse, school counselor and school SRO come running to my aid.
I just started sobbing in the nurse’s arms. They asked me if I was okay, but I did not say anything, I just cried. They took me somewhere until my parents arrived to pick me up. It was not long until my dad showed up and in my mind, I did not know what was going to happen. I did not know if I would be rushed to the hospital or anything.
My dad told me when we got in the car that we were going to the park to eat ice cream. To anyone, this may seem odd for that moment, after all, I had just gone through it all in one day. When we arrived at the park, we sat on a bench under a tree. And I told him everything that I was feeling.
As my dad told me how much life was a gift–how God had put everything on earth for us to enjoy as his creation. He also told me that I did not have to make a permanent decision for a temporary situation. A situation that still had hope for escape.
We talked about a lot of things. And even though I knew of the long road to recovery, I had peace. My dad told me a lot of things that helped quiet my thoughts and remind me that I was going to be okay.
During this time I was struggling with my spirituality and I could not exactly tell if God loved me or not. I did not know if he cared or even noticed me. I was hurt by my past and all my emotional distress. But, allow me to delete this lie out of your head, God does care and he does love you.
I would never try to preach to you, but during that time, I was trying to please God by doing things that I thought were good enough. Every time I made a mistake, I always felt that God was angry with me. But, as I began to get to know him, I saw that he was not angry at me at all.
I soon found out that he loved me. A couple of days later, my mom tells me that I was going to receive therapy. This is where my life was going to change and I would get a second chance at living.
The first few months of therapy were hard and I still felt in that same place. I was starting to doubt if the therapy was working. There were moments when I felt that my issue was irreversible.
I had to realize I was not going to heal overnight. It was not going to be an easy fix. It was going to take time. But, it was possible, and I was going to heal.
I was going to no longer just exist in this, but I was determined to live. I was going to live every day of my life to the fullest and I was no longer going to let life pass me by.
As time passed, I did get better, even if it was just a little every day. I found myself having a little more desire to live when I woke up.
Help and support from other people and being reminded that someone does love me and cares about me. Let me just tell you that I know what it feels like to feel that there is no one that cares about you or what you are dealing with–and to feel unloved.
You may feel that you have no support from anyone or anything, but even if this article is all that you have to look to for hope, I hope that it will be a safe haven just for you.
Just for a moment, imagine that you were to go somewhere far away somewhere and no one knew you were gone. To wonder who that would affect would probably be the last thing you are thinking about at the moment.
As you are gone, here are the people who would miss you. If you have a family, one of the first things they would do is call other family members and ask if they have seen you. Then if nothing is resolved, the next step would be to call proper authorities to put out your missing person information.
Next, authorities will begin to search for you high and low. Imagine the scene, the news, and the family that is missing you. The daily lives of people would change in one moment all because you were gone.
You affect other lives. Your life will always have some kind of impact. I had to learn this too. Your situation may be different from mine and you may feel no one understands you, but I know. I know you feel alone in your situation and I understand that feeling.
Your life has value and your life is a gift. I know that it feels that your situation will never change but I can promise you that things do change and I can say that from my own experience.
The only thing that I will leave with is that know your journey is not going to be easy and you will have rough days, but you will make it. Only if you choose to live.
Photo Credit: Illustration By Blair Williams
Student Explains The Mental Health Crisis
There is a growing mental health crisis upon this generation, but as the crisis grows, so does the number of people and services who want to bring stability to this generation.
Suicide Prevention is observed every year during the month of September, specifically the week of Sept. 4-10. Prevention is the action of stopping something happening or arising in the future, keep this in mind. This month brings awareness to suicide and mental illness, emphasizing the importance of staying on top of your mental health. Mental health is the state of people’s mental well-being.
Mental Health plays into suicide prevention in the sense that the more resources coping mechanisms everyone has, the lower the chance of suicide. In 2021, The CDC found that there were 130 suicides per day. There has been a goal set by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services to reduce suicide attempts by 20% by 2025.
Hannah Ruggles is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Solid Ground Counseling Center. She finds resources to change people’s circumstances and family cycles. Getting help is not easy, and it’s not a weakness it’s a strength. While society has become more aware, so has health care professionals, seeing as they are more accessible and within reach for those who need help. Families, community, friends and professionals are always within reach for everyone. As a professional, Ruggles helps people by implementing evidence-based therapeutic models within their treatment. Those who need help should not hesitate to reach out.
“Mental health is so important in today’s society because we all have it. If we neglect our mental health it can wreak havoc on all different areas of our functioning. The more we take it seriously, gain understanding, and resources, the more we can manage what life throws at us,” Ruggles said.
Suicidal feelings and mental weaknesses are often caused by isolation, abuse or loss. If you find yourself in any of these situations, there are multiple resources you can reach out to; for example, the Suicide Prevention Hotline at Huntsville Hospital or Therapists and The North Alabama Psychiatric Associates.
“If someone is struggling mentally my best advice is that they seek out a therapist to help them in these areas,” Ruggles said. “People can actively support those who are dealing with mental health by being a listening ear and support without exercising any judgment. We don’t have to always solve someone’s issues to support them and validate their feelings.”
In recent years, people have been more outspoken on social issues, especially the importance of mental health. American society was not always a safe space for people to express how they feel without heavy judgment and resentment. As a result, people felt their feelings were not valid and they either took their lives or struggled with depression without help.
“The view on mental health and suicide prevention has changed over the years in that people are taking it much more seriously because we can see the toll it has taken on our society,” Ruggles said. “For suicide prevention specifically, there has been much more research and understanding of warning signs and best ways to help the person in crisis.”
There is a wide variety of concepts that play into mental health and illness, spiritual wellness being one of those key concepts. Spirituality can help you deal with stress by giving you a sense of peace, purpose, and forgiveness. Dr. Travis L. Davis is CEO and owner of VantagePoint Behavioral Health, LLC. and pastor of His Dwelling Place COGIC. He works with teens, adults, couples, and families. Dr.Davis provides individualized programs that fit each client’s needs, his methods include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Biblical-Faith-Based Approaches, Mindfulness, Reframing, and individualized treatment planning that fits each client’s needs.
“The best results we obtain as mental health professionals is psychotherapy, and if needed, a combination of psychotherapy and psychopharmacology to obtain homeostasis, or balance, in your life,” Dr.Davis said.
Dr.Davis became a psychotherapist because of his interest in how minds develop and how individuals’ feelings affect their behaviors. Through his professional career he found that in recent years mental awareness has gained traction in society, especially during the pandemic. While society has become more aware, so has health care professionals, seeing as they are more accessible and within reach for those who need help.
No one is in a perfect state mentally. Many studies done between 2010 and 2020 have shown that women ages 18-25 and middle-aged white men are most likely to commit suicide. Dr. Davis in his experience with patients from walks of life has established that both of these groups do not have the best coping skills. This is due to pressure from family and peers and the lack of an outlet to express their struggles in a safe space. If you fall into this group and you don’t feel suicidal taking preventive measeures is sill important, so you don’t reach that point.
“These populations, and cultures may feel seeking help to process trauma, or seeking mental health services may be seen as weakness, or unacceptable,” Dr.Davis said. “Therefore, they may lack the awareness to seek help, or have learned unhealthy learned behaviors to cope with everyday stressors”.
As young adults in America, there are many things that bring happiness and joy to this generation. However there are many things that bring joy in life, but to truly appreciate joy you have to know sorrow. Do not ignore your internal struggles. Whether you get help or not, your mental health is important. Whatever your diagnosis is, your mental health is important. Recognizing the importance of your mental health is knowing the value of your quality of life.
The first step of asking for help and setting up a therapy appointment is the hardest. Everyone struggles with mental health at some point in their life, even if it is not apparent. There is no shame in reaching out for support. It is the bravest thing that someone can do. Here are some resources you can use if you or a friend is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts:
Heidi Hollinger | NAPA (northalabamapsych.com)
To find a hotline near you- Alabama Suicide Hotlines – Suicide.org! Alabama Suicide Hotlines, Alabama Suicide Hotlines, Alabama Suicide Hotlines, Alabama Suicide Hotlines!
Photo Credit: Public Domain
Five Movies That Shed Light On Suicide
“13 Reasons Why”
In 2017, Netflix gained huge traction from a hard-hitting show called “13 Reasons Why.” This show highlights the harsh impact peers can have on each other, even from seemingly minor comments or actions. High school student Hannah Baker goes through a series of betrayal, bullying and lack of support from friends, family and the school staff. This all played a part in her suicide but beyond her grave, she left behind 13 audiotapes to those who negatively impacted her.
17-year-old Taylor Hillridge was just a normal teenage girl who entered the world of social media without an idea of how harsh other teens can be behind screens. She finds new freedom without her mom constantly leaning over her shoulder. Shortly after making an online account, Taylor falls victim to cyberbullying from her peers. Over time it becomes too much for Taylor and it drives her to attempt to do the unthinkable- ending her life.
Jumping from a high school relationship to a college level relationship can be mentally challenging. Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron learn to manage their relationship as they enter adulthood all while balancing their individual growth and mental stability. This tv series shows that mental health is complicated and perfectly normal. It addresses common issues like anxiety, loneliness and depression.
“It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”
This movie takes a different approach to depicting mental health by pairing it with comedy. It follows a 16-year-old named Craig, who was recently admitted to a psychiatric ward. He battles with suicidal ideation and severe depression. The movie uses Craig’s experience to portray that the facility is a warm and welcoming environment with a close-knit community, not a scary hospital trying to fix broken people.
“This Is Us”
“This Is Us” is widely praised for their phenomenal depiction of mental health. The show follows the lives of three siblings: Randall, who battles with anxiety, Kevin, who battles with addiction, and Kate, who battles with lack of self esteem. It breaks down the struggles people with mental health occur on a daily basis and brings awareness to how real and relevant it is.
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