A note on suicide

“Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone…”

So, over the weekend I heard from a friend that a mutual acquaintance of ours had passed away. He had been suffering in silence for a long time. He didn’t know how to reach out and get help and it ended up costing him his life.

I remembered him as a cheerful guy who always had an easy smile. Unfortunately for him he wasn’t able to outrun the demons of abuse, depression and drug abuse.

Why do I share this with you all? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 34,598 suicide deaths occured in the United States last year.

While in the overall population of the U.S. that only translates to a handful of people compared to the more than 300 million people residing within this nation, among 18-24 year old people, it is a worrisome situation. The third leading reason for death in that age bracket is suicide. For every 100,000 American youths 12.7 of them die as a result of suicide.

Many ask what could push someone to that point. For those who have been in a depression for a long time, sometimes it might seem that the only way out is an extreme act such as that.

For those with friends going through a hard time, remember always that they need you more in those moments than you can understand. Sometimes it’s just a friend to talk to and sometimes it’s just going for a walk together.

The main thing is to watch out for the warning signs of someone who might commit suicide.

If you have a friend who is seemingly always depressed and never seems to have energy, talk to them. There is a misconception that people who are on the road to suicide don’t want to talk or engage with the world.

This assertion in most instances is the farthest from the truth. They are looking for someone to care about them. Many people who are up to that point live in situations where they feel isolated.

Compound that with drug abuse and you need to get help immediately for whoever it is that you know. One of the reasons that college students are at such high risk for such circumstances is, in many cases, they are far from home for the first time. In some cases they don’t know how to handle the combination of peer pressure and binge drinking.

While I know that most students at Washburn aren’t crazy alcoholics, some people respond to drinking in different ways. There are some out there who, once they drink, become depressed easily. If you know someone who does, don’t abandon them because they are, “bringing down the party.”

Cut them off, clean them up and talk to them about what it is that is bothering them. Don’t look back on things and live with the regret that a few words might have been the difference between them being there and not.

For those wondering where they can get help, either for a friend or for themselves, speak to the YWCA of Topeka. They have people who assist with domestic battery cases, suicidally depressed people and others who are hurting.

Just know that no matter what, someone cares. Jeff didn’t know that, and there are more people who will miss him than he ever knew.