Suicide Prevention Tip

On my way home from rehearsal tonight I was listening to NPR’s “On Being.” The guest was philosopher, historian, and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht. She was speaking about suicide.

I am fortunate. While I have depression, it has never manifested itself as self-harm or suicidal thoughts for me. This doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone who HAS had those symptoms. It’s simply not the symptoms I have. But I’m always interested in the topic, as I have people in my life who have struggled with suicidal thoughts. If I am going to be an advocate for people getting help with mental illness, I want to be as informed as I can.

So when Ms. Hecht made this suggestion for suicide prevention, I knew I needed to pass it along. Immediately.

Here’s the deal.

Depression is a liar. A good one. This I know from experience. So when you are feeling depressed, it is nearly impossible to remember a time when things felt good.

So remind yourself.

Write yourself a letter. An actual, literal, handwritten letter. The next time you are feeling good, write to your future self. Remind yourself that those feelings of depression are temporary. That you have good times. That you have people you love. People who love you. Carry that letter with you. All the time. And if you’re feeling like life isn’t worth living, take out your letter. Read it. Trust it. And wait.

Because that feeling will pass.

Remind yourself in the letter that the feeling will pass.

I do not mean to oversimplify the feelings and thoughts. Nor do I downplay the importance of getting help. (Therapy, medication, or a combination of both.) But if you can just get through THIS MOMENT. THESE THOUGHTS. And just… wait. You might not feel all the way better. But you will remember that your life is worth it.

As Hecht says, “Your staying alive means so much more than you really know or that anyone is aware of at this moment.”

This. Will. Pass.

If you’re able to, go write that letter right now.

If some feelings of crisis brought you to this blog, and you feel that you are in immediate danger, please- PLEASE- I am personally asking you to call someone.
You can call 1-800-273-8255 any time.

Now. Go write that letter. And pass this along to anyone who might need it.

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