When I hear, “suicide is preventable,” I wonder if it makes people who lost someone to suicide afraid to share their story. Maybe they feel others will blame them, or they blame themselves. The idea of suicide being preventable can evoke mixed emotions and beliefs.
When I say or hear “suicide is preventable” it means suicide prevention is not about blame but about empowerment.
Suicide is 100% preventable
Suicide, by its very definition, is not an accident. It’s a purposeful act brought on by a psychological pain that exceeds one’s ability to cope using their existing skills and resources. It is a “choice” based on a distorted reality; things will never get better. It is in this state of mental pain that a life-ending choice might be made. This being said, every individual who takes action to end their life could choose to engage resources to ease their pain. Therefore, suicide is 100% preventable.
This is a statement of fact, it’s judgement free, and this choice can only be made by the individual themselves. To support this individual in finding alternative ways to overcome their pain requires instilling a sense of hope, increasing positive coping skills, and expanding their resources.
What can you do?
If you take a suicide intervention course, such as QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer.) you will hear that an individual’s choice is to be respected. You will also learn how to open a discussion, introduce hope to someone experiencing suicidal thoughts, and support them to seek additional help.
This statement, therefore, should never be used to promote blame. Rather, it means we have the opportunity to save a life by arming ourselves with knowledge and empowering ourselves to support others by sharing this knowledge.
For me, “suicide is preventable” means we have the opportunity and the power to make a difference.
Support for an individual suffering with suicide ideation can come from anywhere and hopefully comes from everywhere. The more awareness, education, and support they have, the more informed they will be to make the best choice for themselves (and for those who love them).
Because of this, I hope it empowers everyone with a difficult experience to share what they’ve learned and not to cast blame on themselves. Something you say may be the one piece of information needed for someone else to make a different, life-saving choice.