I am not going to barrage you with statistics on suicide nor am I going to tread lightly on the subject. We all know that one suicide or one attempted suicide is one too many. Sadly, the conversation around suicide is just as taboo today as it has been in generations past. So how do we bring it to the forefront and begin having honest discussions on prevention?
This past weekend I was privileged to interview two gentlemen who have dealt with suicide firsthand.
Mr. David Threatt is, himself, a suicide survivor. Eleven years ago David admits that, because of choices he had made in his 20’s, he was nowhere near where he thought he would be at 30. That milestone in life where society celebrates everything coming together was not coming together for him. Depression set in and with it the feeling that life was not worth living anymore. After experiencing divorce, having children out of wedlock, and living with a sinking feeling that his life was just not right, David attempted suicide. He was fortunate to have survived. However, it is unfortunate that it took him almost dying, being in ICU and undergoing treatment in a mental facility after his attempt to realize everything he had to live for.
I asked David if he was grateful for his survival. He responded with an unequivocal, “I am totally grateful; I am so happy to be alive”.
David is part of the lucky few who survive a suicide attempt and get a second chance to realize that death by ones own hand may solve the immediate problem, but it then creates heartbreak and pain for those left behind. Today, David thrives as a father, business owner and soon to be author; he is currently working on a book about his experience. David is also a suicide prevention activist with the Oklahoma City Chapter – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Mr. Gabe Jourden experienced suicide twice within his family. His father committed suicide in 1988 when Gabe was only 16 years old. In 2007 he lost his brother to suicide. When I asked him if there were signs of his loved ones impending decision to take their own lives Gabe admitted that there were. Sadly, because suicide is such a perceived untouchable subject, for both those who are suicidal and loved ones, those signs were overlooked. His father and brother suffered from mental illness and Gabe works tirelessly to educate others on suicide prevention in such cases of mental illness.
Today Gabe is the Co-Chairman for the Oklahoma Chapter – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He has worked with the foundation for 6 years prior to signing their charter in March of 2014. The chapter’s efforts are unceasing with their main objective being funding research. The foundation also works with the local Veteran’s Association and the State Mental Health Department.
Suicide among our youth is a growing concern. In May of 2014 the Governor signed into law House Bill 1623. HB 1623:
Requires each board of education of each school district to adopt a policy regarding suicide awareness and training and the reporting of student drug abuse; requires the provision of training to all staff and students.
The Oklahoma Chapter for AFSP also provides the More Than Sad video to schools each year to promote suicide prevention and depression awareness.
David and Gabe both explained during their interviews that communication, education, and understanding is key to prevention. That door swings both ways. The person contemplating suicide must find the strength to address their issues and those around them need to break their own silence and acknowledge the signs.
When it comes to our youth they agree that parents and educators must not let the opportunity to help pass them by. As adults we must refuse to step aside and allow our children to spiral into a black hole. Gabe put it bluntly saying that parents and educators need to stop worrying about invading our youth’s personal space. Step up if there is even a small concern about a child’s wellbeing.
There is no easy path to be taken through life and some people cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Be thoughtful, be diligent and be that beacon of light for someone who needs help.
For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, how you can get involved or just need a resource go to AFSP.org.
For local Oklahoma events and resources go to the Oklahoma Chapter – AFSP
There is more where this came from at alifeingeneral.com