“Why Are We Whispering?”
Preventing suicide is close to me personally and professionally. I’ve lost too many relatives, and know too many friends who have lost loved ones, to sit in silence. When I tell people about my work on Power of One, they lean in and whisper, “I know someone who died by suicide.” Or, “I don’t tell many people this, but I have (or have experienced) depression too.”
And I wonder: Why are we whispering?
We must talk about suicide aloud because America is on a precipice. Nearly 40,000 Americans will die by suicide this year. 90% have a diagnosable and treatable illness, or tandem of illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder and substance abuse. Historically, this topic has been taboo, which has led to shame, stigma and silence. Only recently have we started talking about depression and other risk factors of suicide in the same manner we talk about risk factors for heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS.
I’m producing this project to further the conversation about suicide and suicide prevention. My driving sense of purpose is to help change the narrative of silence to a narrative of connectedness, social support, resilience, treatment and recovery; to share knowledge about suicide’s warning signs and learn how to connect those who are in distress with assistance and care; and to harness the power of story to engage everyone in this vital conversation. I want to discuss this with you, your loved ones, your coworkers and your communities. I want to talk aloud, in broad daylight.
Let’s not whisper anymore. We can’t afford it.