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Use Your Ears; Save A Life

I’ve heard many times, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason”, meaning we are to listen twice as much as we speak. I want to end Mental Health Awareness month on a somber but very important note: suicide.

The one topic no one wants to talk about. The one topic everyone should talk about. Over the past week, golfer Grayson Murray died by suicide. My friend’s best friend died by suicide. Both age 30.  Their deaths are nobody’s fault of course. Their lives were lived the best they could but in the end their inner demons won and they will be forever missed. My cousin, who was a psychiatrist, died by suicide in 2020. I still cannot wrap my mind around it. Even when you know how and where to reach out, sometimes the demons win. Rick was the nicest guy. He was sweet, funny, caring and loved his family with a passion. It’s hard to accept when anyone we love passes away, it is absolutely devastating when they choose to stop living. Leaves us empty, loads of guilt and endless unanswered questions. Nonetheless, we carry one the best we can.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, in 2022, 49,449 people died by suicide in the United States, a 3% increase from 2021. Each year the percentage increases just a bit, it would be nice to see it decrease instead.

Those who choose to end their lives don’t always say so, ask for help or show any signs, instead, once the decision is made, they tend to be at peace and happy. They may give some of their prized possessions away or write notes to their loved ones.

So, what can we do? Well, we obviously can’t be with someone 24/7 but we can check on people. I think we as a society depend too much on texting as a means to check in on people. We don’t call. We don’t make time to visit. We have lost our genuineness of caring for each other. So when I say check on each other, I mean call and set a time to visit. Call and really listen to what is being said. We tend to listen in order to respond; we don’t listen to hear. Send a card or hand written letter (another lost form of communication). Meet for coffee or a sundae. Not for a meal or a movie (hard to really communicate at either one). Ask them how they are feeling instead of how they are doing? Ask them what they need rather than what you can do for them. Ask them if they are feeling overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Don’t feel you have to walk on eggshells. Those who are afflicted with a mental illness should not be treated any differently than those who are afflicted with physical illnesses.

Mental health needs to stop getting swept under the carpet. It can no longer be the elephant in the middle of the room. We must address it every chance we get. I’m lucky enough to have this blog as a forum, I can write for newspapers and submit magazine stories. I can keep writing about mental health to keep it in the forefront.

Many times all of us just need an ear to listen, really listen. You may just save a life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988

Work Cited:

Kekatos, Mary, Number of suicides in the US in 2022 Reaches record level:CDC, November 28,2023, 

Until Next time…

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