To Whom It May Concern:
Suicide Prevention comes to light for many after a tragedy has occurred. Prevention becomes their new cause. As survivors of suicide we walk in Walks of Remembrance, Walks for Life, and walks for certain individuals to raise money for the cause of future prevention and education of ways to find hope and live. We light candles, we attend Angel-versaries, we buy memorial plaques and jewelry, we wear bracelets, and we grieve and long for our loved ones to come home.
We represent a large portion of your audience and we are a group that is AT RISK after suicide has tragically changed our lives forever. We become a group that stands between two fences, Post Suicide and New Life. Our backs are to the hurdle of new life for so long, we get caught in the transference of pain and hopelessness from our loved one that we have just lost. We struggle to hang on.
Many of us new survivors of suicide develop our own causes and make the choice to live and breathe suicide prevention. Many of us struggle with the word prevention, because it carries a bubble of guilt, shame, and stigma around it. And, there are those of us survivors that cannot figure out what to do and so we carry on the best we can, not attached to any cause but grieving just the same.
Many of us do just fine. We progress, we continue to live, we return to productive lives and have happy moments. We deal with the loss in a healthy way and are able to place our loved one in our lives, where it fits for us, respectfully and giving a sense of peace. Some of us are unable to move from day one, suffering from PTSD, developing our own depression and hopelessness, becoming part of a dangerous cycle. And, still some of us are somewhere in between. Moving back and forth, wandering at times and other times fully confident of our journey.
We are a complicated bunch, suicide survivors. Just as the group that our loved ones fit into, we too are unique, have our own stories and experiences and we all wish that the movement of suicide prevention would have worked or been “there” for our loved ones.
I can only speak honestly and frankly about one lost loved one by suicide, my own dear son. Fred, my son, was 24 when he took his life a year and half ago. Married, two daughters, college educated, great job, great personality, and what we all thought was a great life. My son did not let us know of his struggles and hopelessness. And still, to this day we ask questions and will never really know the WHY surrounding his death. Suicide prevention was not a part of his “everyday” and definitely not a part of our families “everyday”. Prevention could have worked in my son’s life if it was there. That I am sure of.
As a new audience member to your cause I ask myself, “How can suicide prevention work more effectively, to reach the people that are not part of your cause and not part of your audience who are also at risk?” I do not have an answer or a solution to this and I am sure it is something that keeps YOU up at night also.
I often think of ways to reach people, not just school age kids or people associated in the mental health field or struggling with a mental health disorder.
Reach every person.
A way to end suicide, make it the rarest form of death.
Do we design driver licenses to be messages of HOPE and prevention tools? Do we include literature and education with tax forms and voting forms? What else does every citizen receive or do on a regular basis? Should all banks have inspirational and hopeful messages, and ways to find help for people in financial stress? How about schools? Are they doing enough prevention measures when a student of any age is not doing well?
Again, I do not know the answers.
What I do know, I am a suicide survivor. I did create my own cause out of my own pain. I share my story to other suicide survivors to try and give hope and give of myself in any way I can. I send packages of comfort, I talk to people, I write and blog, I try and make a difference, just like you. I know the frustration you must feel, because I want to save everyone and do everything to stop the pain. But, I know I cannot. I am one woman, part of one family, with one small cause.
My letter is to show my appreciation to you and to let you know that we are here for the portion of your audience that is part of the AT RISK group of suicide survivors. While you provide prevention measures, education, and ways for us to find new life in our new selves, we provide validation and support during grief.
Thank you for what you do.
The Surviving Project