Coming home from school that day, I remember the look on my mother’s face.
Our dear friend was no longer here, and it was a shocking blow to us all. He had died by suicide that weekend and certainly, it was overwhelming and almost unbelievable news. “How could this be, you can’t be serious,” I remember thinking.
Dave was just about the brightest light you could imagine, always the social butterfly, he was funny, smart, witty, kind and always had the best recommendation of board games to suggest to anyone who asked (and even if you didn’t!). Working at the local supermarket, many customers remarked that part of why they came back to shop so many times a week was just to interact with Dave. He had a way of uplifting and leaving you feeling hopeful and not alone and even better than when you arrived.
However, few of us, perhaps none of us, were aware of his own internal struggles. And did not know what we know now about suicide.
At that time, I had only recently become aware of this mental health issue and had thankfully gained more understanding from a presentation on suicide awareness/prevention at our local high school from the Amber Craig Foundation.
Amber was a student there in the years preceding me and tragically lost her life to suicide at 14 years old.
That presentation helped me understand the loss of our family friend Dave and the broader impact of suicide on our communities. The more suicide continues to be discussed and destigmatized, and steps for prevention shared, the more it feels that there is truly a community effort to work together to prevent these losses and connect people to the help they so desperately need.
When we talk about the Body of Christ—this Mystical Body of which we all are a part — that Eucharistic connection inspires me to pay attention to the whole body-mind and spirit- and the whole person in new ways after these experiences of loss.
Suicide Prevention is something we can all have a role in. We can all strive to have more awareness for one another and take the time to check in, assess for behavioral changes, recent major stressors or personal issues. We can encourage people around us to seek help to address mental health concerns. We can promote a future of inclusion and hope for those who struggle with suicidal ideation in our parishes, classroom, and families and recognize our own needs for support when we need it. Asking someone directly if they are thinking about suicide and using the national 988 suicide and crisis prevention number to seek emergency assistance is a vital step.
We don’t always know the way these simple interactions in our day-to-day life can truly make a difference. Caring for each other in body, mind, and spirit is our sacred call and as we spiritually prepare to serve one another let’s also integrate blessings of mental health resources and awareness into our daily journeys with others.
Please visit these sites for more information on how you can make a difference: https://www.withhopefoundation.org/
Risk of Suicide | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org