Suicide Awareness Month: The Quiet Struggle

September marks Suicide Awareness Month, a time when we stand in solidarity with those facing the silent battle of mental health. We want to take the time to acknowledge those who suffer, their families and friends, and those dedicated to raising awareness and providing support.

Suicide is a global concern, and its impact is profound. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 700,000 people die by suicide each year, making it a major cause of death worldwide. The statistics are staggering and tragic, but just like the progress that has been made in breast cancer research and advocacy, we can make a difference in the fight against suicide through awareness, understanding, advocacy, and compassion.

At Eterneva, we recognize how difficult it can be to talk about suicide and mental health struggles. Suicide discussions can be hampered by the societal stigmas attached to the subject, the emotional weight of the sudden tragedy, even the fear of triggering or glamorizing the act. 

However, we feel it is crucial to engage in open and compassionate conversations about suicide for exactly these reasons. The only way to break down stigma, dispel misconceptions, and foster a greater understanding of mental health is through honest discussion. By talking about it, we can help raise awareness about the complexity of mental health, encourage early intervention, and promote empathy to those engaged in the silent struggle. 

Understanding the Landscape

Suicide is a complex issue influenced by a wide variety of interconnected factors, such as mental health conditions, social pressures, economic stressors, and personal struggles. 

In the United States alone, suicide is among the leading causes of death, claiming the lives of tens of thousands each year. Addressing the multifaceted nature of suicide is the first step toward empathy and understanding and a path toward reducing these numbers.

Mental Health Conditions

Many individuals facing mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may be at a higher risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. Raising awareness about these conditions and the realities that surround them is crucial for early intervention and support.

Societal Pressures

Social and cultural factors, including misplaced stigma, discrimination, and a lack of understanding surrounding mental health, can contribute to an environment where individuals may feel isolated or reluctant to seek help.

Personal Struggles

Personal challenges, such as relationship issues, financial hardships, or the loss of a loved one, can exacerbate mental health issues and contribute to feelings of despair. We don’t always know what someone is going through, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs that someone may need help.

Advocacy for Mental Health

Being an advocate for someone facing mental health challenges means offering support and empathy without judgment. Here are a few strategies that can help you be a better advocate for mental health and suicide awareness.

Build a Supportive Network

Mental health struggles can feel very isolating. Actively constructing a robust support network of friends, family, and community resources helps to create a compassionate and understanding environment that someone struggling can lean on. 

Establish safe spaces where individuals can freely express their feelings without fear of judgment. This network can act as a safety net, offering emotional support, companionship, and a sense of belonging that is essential to the mental health recovery process.

Empowerment Through Education

Knowledge is power. Equipping yourself and others with knowledge and perspective about mental health conditions will give you a better understanding of what someone is going through.

You don’t need to be an expert, but cultivating a deeper understanding of the intricacies of various mental health issues will enable you to offer the right support. 

With the right knowledge about the signs of mental distress, advocates are better equipped to recognize when intervention is needed and guide individuals toward the appropriate resources. Education also helps dispel some of the common myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health, creating a more empathetic and informed community and society.

Active Listening 

If empathy and understanding are the goals for advocates, active listening and education are the tools we can use to get there. Simply being present and available for those we care about and encouraging them to open up about their struggles forms a cornerstone of emotional support for individuals facing mental health challenges.

Creating an environment where individuals feel heard, understood, and accepted is so important. Just by listening, we, as advocates, can validate feelings and experiences and connect on an emotional level, breaking through the walls of isolation put up by mental health issues. 

When coupled with empathetic and thoughtful feedback, this approach communicates genuine care and understanding, which can make someone feel heard, understood, and loved.

Encourage Professional Help

Advocacy for mental health means encouraging individuals to seek professional help when needed. Mental health professionals, including therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, play critical roles in providing specialized care, diagnosis, and treatment. 

Advocates can guide individuals through the process, helping them overcome potential barriers to care and create a plan for treatment and monitoring.

Promote Open Conversations

Breaking the silence that often surrounds mental health means actively promoting open conversations in the family, community, and workplace. By creating an environment where discussing mental health is normalized, advocates can start to remove the stigma and shame that get attached to mental health struggles. 

Open conversations create opportunities for individuals to share their experiences, seek advice, and access support without fear of judgment. This focus on openness helps build a culture where mental health is prioritized, and support is readily available.

Respecting Boundaries

While we want to be present and available for we want to help, we also need to remember that respecting individuals' boundaries is fundamental to providing effective support. Advocates should respect a person’s wishes and acknowledge the importance of privacy and autonomy in decision-making. 

Recognizing when to offer support and when to provide space can be challenging, but it demonstrates a profound understanding of the delicate balance needed for successful mental health advocacy. Respecting boundaries builds trust and ensures that advocacy efforts are collaborative and considerate.

Long-Term Support

Mental health isn’t like the flu; you don’t just treat it once, get over it, and you’re all better. In fact, many mental health challenges require sustained, long-term support and careful monitoring. Realize that an individual's journey may require continual advocacy and maintenance, and the process may be marked by both progress and setbacks. 

Offering unwavering support during the ups and downs is essential to the well-being of those facing mental health challenges, contributing to their resilience and overall recovery. It can also be a lot to handle. Don’t try to go it alone; instead, rely on the network of support you’ve built and share the emotional load.

Raising Awareness for Suicide Prevention

The best way to remove the stigma of mental health struggles and encourage those struggling to seek help is to start the conversation. Raising awareness for suicide prevention can help shine a light on resources for those suffering and help loved ones better recognize the signs that someone in their life might be dealing with mental health issues. Here are a few ways you can help raise awareness for suicide prevention.

Addressing Stigma and Misconceptions

To effectively address the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health, awareness campaigns must go beyond the surface, delving into the root causes of these common misunderstandings. Dispelling myths requires promoting accurate information about mental health conditions, how common they are, and the diverse ways they can manifest in a person. 

Proper education is the best way to eliminate prejudiced beliefs and encourage empathy and understanding. Mental health is nuanced and complex, and it’s important that people understand that exists on a spectrum. There is no binary of “mentally healthy” or “mentally unhealthy.” Correcting these misconceptions means engaging with the community and working to dismantle deeply ingrained biases, creating a more empathetic and informed society.

The Power of Language

Language plays a pivotal role in shaping perceptions of mental health. By acknowledging the power of words, we can start to consciously utilize non-stigmatizing and inclusive language. Derogatory terms and negative connotations make it harder for those struggling to speak up, so it’s crucial for us to use language that encourages understanding and compassion. Encouraging positive and inclusive terminology can reshape the narrative and allow individuals to feel safe, supported, and free from judgment.

Normalizing Seeking Help

One of the most important objectives of any mental health awareness campaigns is normalizing seeking help. By highlighting success stories and praising those who have reached out for support, we can reduce some of the biggest barriers that individuals face when considering professional assistance. 

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is one of strength, showing that you are taking responsibility and ownership of your problems rather than burying them until things get worse.

Promoting Inclusivity 

Ensuring that awareness initiatives are inclusive and considerate of diverse communities is a crucial component of their success. Different cultural perspectives and experiences significantly impact how mental health is perceived. Therefore, awareness campaigns must be tailored to reflect this diversity, acknowledging and respecting varying beliefs and practices. 

If we ensure range of voices and narratives are heard, we can allow individuals from all backgrounds feel represented and understood. It’s also important to remember that inclusivity goes beyond cultural considerations to include factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, and more.

Collaborative Efforts for Prevention

Suicide prevention is a complex subject that requires collective action from individuals, communities, and organizations—-addressing mental health and preventing suicide extends beyond any one entity. By creating partnerships, sharing resources, and coordinating strategies, we can create a collaborative approach that ensures no one falls through the cracks.

Engaging Schools and Workplaces

The integration of mental health education in schools and workplaces is a key to suicide prevention. By cultivating environments that acknowledge and prioritize the importance of mental health, individuals facing challenges are more likely to seek help. 

Training teachers, employers, and colleagues to recognize signs of distress and provide assistance establishes a network of support. This approach equips coworkers, educators, and friends with the tools to intervene early, potentially preventing crises.

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is a crucial aspect of suicide prevention in the same way physical first aid works in response emergencies. This specialized training equips individuals with the skills to recognize, understand, and respond to someone facing a mental health crisis. 

Encouraging the widespread adoption of Mental Health First Aid programs helps build a more ready and resilient community. By providing this training, can help prepare people to assist those in need while also actively reducing the stigma surrounding mental health challenges.

Accessible Support Resources

If we are going to prevail in the fight against suicide, we need to ensure that mental health support resources are available to those who need them. Establishing easily accessible helplines, crisis intervention services, and community-based mental health programs ensures that individuals in distress have immediate access to assistance. 

These resources are mental health lifelines, offering timely and targeted support. If we build a comprehensive network of resources, we can create a safety net that helps individuals navigate the challenges of mental health and reduces the risk of suicide.

Honoring Lives Lost to Suicide

Honoring the memory of those lost to suicide can take many forms. One way to celebrate the lives of our loved ones while shining a light on the important issues they struggled with is to create lasting memorials and tributes to remember them by. 

No one should be defined solely by their struggles with mental health, but by acknowledging those struggles, we can confront the root causes of these tragedies and work to prevent them in the future. Here are a few ways you can honor loved ones lost to suicide.

Digital Memorials

Creating digital memorials on social media platforms provides an accessible space for friends and family to share stories, photos, and memories of their loved ones. These digital tributes can serve as living memorials that can be revisited and shared by a broader community, both as a way to grieve and an educational tool.

Supporting Mental Health Causes

Donating to mental health organizations, suicide prevention hotlines, and charities dedicated to mental health advocacy is a useful way to honor a loved one's legacy. These contributions support ongoing efforts to prevent suicide and provide assistance to those in need.

Volunteering in Mental Health Organizations

Volunteering your time to mental health organizations can help the support individuals facing mental health challenges. It is also a meaningful way to channel grief into positive action and make a difference in the lives of others.

Memorial Trees and Gardens

Creating a memorial garden or planting a tree in memory of a loved one offers a tangible connection to nature and a peaceful space for reflection and remembrance.

Sharing Stories and Keeping Legacies Alive

Sharing the stories of loved ones lost to suicide helps raise awareness about mental health issues and share knowledge about how to help those in our lives who may be quietly suffering. By keeping their legacies alive, we can change the narrative surrounding mental health while also making sure they aren’t simply defined by their death.

Creating a Memorial Diamond 

Growing a memorial diamond from the remains of a loved one lost to suicide provides a unique and deeply personal way to honor their life. We believe that people are defined by how they lived, not by how they died. Your loved ones deserve to be revered for their bright personalities, the way they laughed, how they chose to spend their time—and all the little things that made them truly one of a kind. Eterneva Diamonds embody strength and resilience, spark memories, and cultivate opportunities to share the story of your loved one with someone who may need to hear it.

Compassion for Those Who Suffer

The struggle of mental health challenges are often silent, internal battles that can make those close to us feel isolated and alone. Advocating for change, raising awareness about suicide prevention, and honoring those who have faced or are facing these challenges gives us the chance to practice compassion and offer help to those who need it. 

At Eterneva, we understand that the only way we can continue to bring brightness and meaning to loss is to unlock important conversations around suicide and mental health. By promoting knowledge, facilitating open conversations, and building supportive communities, we can help create a world where mental health is prioritized, stigma is removed, and people who need help receive the support they deserve.