Warning: You may need to take a seat before reading any further. I certainly needed to do so when I came across surprising information that I will share with you now. This past summer, I learned that there were more suicide attempts than COVID-19 deaths last year. Let that sink in. While COVID-19 shut down the world and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, depression, stress, and hopelessness lead to over a million suicide attempts. Do you know what is even more shocking? One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds – meaning that someone else will have died by suicide by the time you finish reading this blog.
Now that you have the facts, can you think of how many ads and news articles regarding COVID-19 you have come across? I predict that there are too many to count. Can you recall how many conversations you have had with others about the virus? Reflect on all that has been done to assure that every American has access to a COVID vaccine.
Yet, many still do not have access to mental healthcare, thousands continue to suffer in silence, and countless are unaware that Suicide Prevention month is halfway over. Mental health has once again been placed on the American backburner. We are taught to suppress our feelings (like stress, sadness, and anxiety) for the sake of comfort as if such behavior isn’t contributing to our eventual downfall. Sure, many people are functional after bandaging their emotions; but why not strive to be optimal? Functional should only be the beginning and never be the end.
In a world where depression is one of the leading causes of death, this is something we can no longer ignore. We must begin to take uncomfortable steps for a healthier tomorrow. In an effort to fight injurious American norms and prevent suicide, I challenge you to do at least one of the following:
- Check-in on a friend or family member.
- Educate yourself and others about suicide and depression.
- Contact your local representatives to advocate for more accessible mental healthcare.
- Share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) via text or social media.
- Donate to a mental health or suicide foundation.
- Make your mental health a priority. Seek professional help if needed and call 911 if you are experiencing a mental health emergency.
According to Martin Luther King Junior, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he lives in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Where do you stand?
Dominique Thornton, MS, LGPC, provides individual, couple, and family therapy in our downtown Bethesda, MD office and virtually to those located in the State of Maryland. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Dominique!