Last week in Arapahoe County, the second student in 2 days and 8th of the year, took his own life. Arapahoe County and Littleton Public Schools are doing their best to cope, but losing a 13 year old and a 16 year old to suicide in a matter of two days is hard for any community. For more information, see this story: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/teen-suicide-in-arapahoe-county-is-second-in-2-days-eighth-this-year
To the families and friends of those students, I will be praying for peace and healing, for the ability to remember the good days, and for the ability for them to continue in life without blaming themselves for the deaths of their sons, brothers, friends, nephews, or cousins. No amount of shame will make any bit of positive difference.
So I ask for something big from the rest of us.
I would ask you to listen without any expectation. I would ask you not to be shocked. I would ask you to be safe.
If someone says that they are struggling with something,
don’t be shocked, jump to judgment, or try to fix it. None of those things are safe. Instead, listen. Just listen.
Finally, if you do suspect or hear, feel free to ask. You are not going to give someone the idea of committing suicide by talking about it. Ask explicitly if they are thinking about taking their life. If they say no, you have breached the conversation and given them a safe place. If they say yes, and you feel out of sorts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at: 1-800-273-8255. They have operators who are specifically trained to walk you through a suicidal time, either for yourself, or helping someone else.
The people who take their lives aren’t out there somewhere. They are our friends, our families, our neighbors, ourselves. They are often people we never would have thought would struggle with suicidality. And they need to know that right now, you love them and will be present with them.
I needed someone, and it made the difference for me. I have been the someone for others, and it made a difference to them.