Friday, August 24, 2012

Brief Update......About Practically Nothing

I know I haven't posted anything new lately. Sorry about that! I've been busy working on the posts I have coming out for Suicide Prevention Awareness Week which I mentioned in my last post.

Also, I have been dying of utter boredom. I whined about it over in The Personals if you care to take a look. With all the down time I've been having from work, I am disappointed in myself for not getting more out there for you guys to read. I WILL be working on remedying this ASAP (which is mentioned over on my latest post--come on, go read it already! You know you want to...) and so I hope you will be patient and stay tuned in!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: Suicide (Part 1 of 8)

When I began to take a serious interest in my writing, approximately 12 years ago, I started out with poetry. Now, this began as a classroom assignment in my Language Arts classroom, but due to a wonderful teacher I was instantly hooked on poetry--and more importantly, writing about things that mattered.

When I started out, I knew that I wanted to someday change people's lives (I mean, who doesn't right?). What better way to do that than with written word--something that will be there until the end of time? So, to catch the interest of those that I knew best (my peers) I chose topics that most kids my age either knew nothing about or found to be "taboo". For this reason, and this reason alone, most of my earlier poetry and some short stories all revolve around death, self-harm, and suicide. Pretty morbid "topics of interest" for an eighth grader, huh? Most of my peers thought so too.

However, this morbid "topic of interest" that I had in suicide took a sudden, violent swing into becoming a passionate mission of awareness during my sophomore year in high school. A few months shy of having lived in Oregon for a year, one of my best friends from my hometown committed suicide.
Hanse Joshua Peterson
March 27, 1987 to February 4, 2003

I was shaken to the core by the devastating news from some of our other friends. I was overwhelmed with grief, confusion, and guilt.

I felt the obvious pangs of grief that most people feel when they lose someone close to them.  Disbelief, anger, sadness...All of it. I got stuck in my confusion for awhile, though. By all outward appearances, he was a happy and healthy teenage boy. He didn't broadcast his troubles or make extremely blatant cries for help (with one exception--he once ran away to another state during junior high school) so no one knew the pain he was feeling. No one. We all offered our advices and shoulders to cry on when necessary but without intimate knowledge of his situation, there was nothing we could do. This ran me head first into one of the longest guilt trips I have ever given myself.

I felt, as someone who considered themselves rather close with him, that I should have known his suffering and I should have been there for him. I also felt guilty because in the transition to Oregon I lost contact with so many childhood friends and he was one of them--which made it harder to know if he needed me to be there for him (and he obviously needed someone). I felt that I should have tried harder to keep in contact with him and that I should have tried harder to know what was going on in his life inside and outside of school. I felt that there was so much left unsaid to him...I felt sadness for all the things he would not experience...I felt anger towards his tormentors, those who drove him to thinking that suicide was his only way to peace. I felt so many things, all at once, that I could not even begin to put into words.

All of these emotions led me to a school project the following year that I used to try to help me deal with some of the grief and guilt I was feeling. I put together a suicide awareness power-point presentation for a computer class I was taking. I also put together and handed out awareness brochures and business cards with the prevention hotline listed on it. I realized it was a step in the right direction to helping heal the wounds I still felt from the loss of such a great person. Over the years, I occasionally have come back to knowing that there needs to be more awareness and have given a few speeches on the topic for many classes I have taken. Somehow, this doesn't seem like enough.

Jacob Wesley Saunders
April 11, 2012

I was reminded several months ago just how important suicide awareness prevention is when I learned of a suicide in my community--the third one in two years! I did not know the young man, but his death reopened old wounds for me. Many of my friends knew who this young man was and all of them were DEEPLY affected by his decision to end his life. Their grief secretly became my grief. Wounds I thought had finally healed after nine years were opened again--even if only briefly--and, now at the end of summer, I have been reeling from the emotional chaos ever since.

This emotional roller-coaster I have been riding had me in a very bad funk the other day (and almost derailed completely, if I may say so myself) when I received news from a family friend that her son--someone I consider the little brother I never had--was currently receiving mental health treatment due to a very recent threat to commit suicide. While I know that he is okay and getting the help that he needs to be getting, my heart is breaking for him. All of those ugly emotions of  confusion and guilt are starting to rear their ugly little heads again. I feel like somehow, I have to do something to help get the word out there to others that they are not alone and that they can find the help and peace they are looking for without ending it all.

Despite the frequent occurrence of  suicide in everyday life, it is STILL considered a "taboo" topic of discussion for MANY people, for MANY reasons. This perception of suicide NEEDS to stop. We have to get the word out and hope that it will help others choose to seek help instead of ending their lives.

September 9th through September 15th is National Suicide Prevention Week this year.

September 10, 2012 is International Suicide Prevention Day.

What will you be doing to promote awareness??

In honor of spreading the word on suicide and suicide prevention I will be posting something about suicide every day that week. This is only a small part I can play in helping to spread the awareness. Hopefully, you will do your small part to help spread the awareness as well.

If you need someone to talk to, please call the number above.
There is someone one the other end who WANTS to help you.
Suicide is NOT the answer.
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