I read something the other day about a firefighter suicide that got under my skin. It said, "we need to do something, because what we are doing is not working."
While we will never be able to prevent or stop all suicides, we are making a difference.
Sadly, it's a difference that we will rarely quantify because sometimes, we rarely know the difference we make in the lives of others.
I know I have been in dark places, and all it took was a smile from another, or a simple gesture for them to pull me out of that place. More than likely, they never knew what they did for me. I've also been pushed further into despair by a simple look, remark, or dismissal. Our negative thoughts are automatic and it is so easy to have a setback.
Today, I was reminded that we are making a difference. One of our peer support members was contacted directly by a brother who needed help, and that member spent his entire day supporting his brother. Nobody will ever know the details of this interaction because they will forever stay behind closed doors.
But I know one thing. Because that brother had an outlet he trusted, he was willing to reach out. He decided that his story continues.
Nothing we're doing will ever matter unless people know they can ask for help without fear of judgement, labels, or immediate mandatory referral.
We have all been broken and we have all felt shame. There is no unique pain in the world. And, I can promise you, there is always somebody else who can help shoulder the burden and offer hope that it does get better.
If you have made it this far. I ask you to do something, and share this with the people you care about. They may never need it, but I promise you, somebody they connect with will.
Make a Crisis Card that lists the following information:
Three People you can call when you feel your world is collapsing and there is no way out (give those people a heads up that they are on your list). Mine are Brian McGinnis, Hanadee Ali, and Michael Lanning
Three active (not passive) activities that make you feel good. Mine are:
listening to a podcast while cycling
the daily ROMWOD or quick jog
One mood regulating activity. A form of mindfulness is the best. An easy one to learn is the Navy Seals box breathing technique: Inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds, hold for four seconds. Do this for three to five minutes. Doing this will activate the parasympathetic nervous system which will help your emotional (fight or flight) brain to stop hijacking your rational brain. Once your rational brain comes back online, you are able to get out of the tunnel vision that traps you.
Finally, write down the number for the Suicide Prevention lifeline
1-800-273-TALK. This line is in place to help people who are in crisis find hope long enough to stay alive and find a better solution. They will not call 911 or ping your location, they will simply work to give you hope. Hope is the antidote to suicide.
And know, that when you feel like you have no way out, and you are in crisis, IT IS NOT PERMANENT. There are solutions. Most great innovations came from crisis. Many of the strongest people have suffered the most. Ernest Hemingway said: "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." Those who are strong at the broken place make the decision to fight.
Promise yourself that you will use your crisis card and do something! If the first thing you do doesn't help, do the next, and if nothing works and nobody answers call 1-800-273-TALK