Written on September 10th, 2016
2.16.11 I was a freshman in high school. What a time to be alive. I had just finished directing my first middle school play as a student director. I felt great. My friends were all enjoying this new season of life, or so I thought. So we all thought. 2.16.11 We were doing the dancing unit in gym class. I hated my partner. I just wanted to dance with one of my friends so that I could goof around. 2.16.11 There was an argument during Flex class but that was normal. It was right before lunch so people were obviously “hangry”. 2.16.11 I left for musical practice and saw ambulances rushing down my road and saw the road was blocked off near my house. “Is everything okay?” was my immediate reaction but I took a deep breath and hoped it was nothing. 2.16.11 “Hannah, do you know Conor Driscoll?”…“Yes, why?”… “I heard he’s in the hospital, is he okay?”… “I don’t know…I didn’t know anything was wrong…”
I began to text some friends furosiously as I pieced things together: the ambulances were going to Conor’s house. Eventually, I caught word of what had happened, but it wasn’t until the next morning that my worst nightmare had become true. My friend Conor had decided to take his own life. 2.16.11
Suicide seems to be a topic that always seems taboo. We don’t like to talk about it, but why? Is it too much of an emotional subject or do we really not consider it to be something to worry about? The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) estimates that 42,773 Americans die by suicide each year. According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of Erie County is estimated to be 278,045 [July 1, 2015]. Could you imagine 43,773 of those people slowly disappearing? What would you do?
Conor had always been the light on a bad day. He could never fail to cheer up his classmates with his wonderful smile and golden curly locks bouncing as he walked down the hallway. He seemed to be everyone’s friend. What we didn’t know was, he was really struggling.
Suicide is the second largest cause of death in Pennsylvania residents ages 15-34, according to data collected by the CDC. So what causes someone to consider sucide? Is it depression, anxiety, other mental illnesses, or genetics? The answer is, it can be all of them. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service states most of their research shows suicide has the ability to become more prevelant due to life history, mental health, lifestyle behaviors, employment status, relationships, and genetics and family history.
The idea that anyone could just decide to commit sucide at any time, for any given reason is a scary and a bit much to take in. What can we as strangers, friends, neighbors, and family members do to protect innocent lives from being lost?
What I suggest first of all, is take time to get to know the people in your life; and I mean really get to know them. Ask them about their day, use good communication skills, and be a good listener. Can we prevent every life lost? No, that is impossible. However, we can take steps to dropping the rate down to near zero. Reach out to someone you don’t know or many not normally talk to. The littlest smile or comment can really make the difference in someone’s life.
Something that I find really important with suicide is we can not blame ourselves for the lives lost. Sometimes all we do is prevent…prevent…prevent. We think of various treatments, therapies, living adjustments, and cater to the person’s struggles in hopes of creating a better situation for them. The struggle comes as onlookers, when we fail to provide the answer to someone else’s suffering.
I had a friend who’s son had struggled for many years with depression and wanted to get better. Various treatments and therapy were provided to that person that seemed to work each time. The problem was, the depression was still there. No matter how hard it was barried over the years, it kept coming back and they kept fighting. Eventually, they lost their fight. If you or anyone you know is struggling with a loved one’s suffering and lost life, do not blame yourself or dwell on what you could have done differently. You fought and did all you could have possibly done. Everything is a part of a much greater plan.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/.aspx to seek additonal help and guidance.
Have you lost someone to suicide or simply want to advocate the importance of preventing it? AFSP organizes a national event called Out of the DARKNESS Walks. Throughout the year, communities organize a walk which helps to remember loved ones, support survivors, and advocate awareness throughout the community.
On Sunday, September 25th at 11 am, one of these special walks will occur at Presque Isle State Park.
For more information regarding the walk please contact Trevor Pearson (814)-323-5049 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfmfuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=3930 to view minor details about the event.
If you are interested in creating an initiative for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Awareness on campus, contact The Spectator at email@example.com