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For Find Out Friday - How Did We Come to Need a Suicide Hotline SO Badly?

The news of Anthony Bourdain’s death today rocked my world. I was a fan of his, had eaten in his NYC restaurant, and watched his numerous television shows. Sure, he could be rough around the edges but he was always above all; unapologetically honest. That it was what I respected most about the man I never met but felt I knew. 

Apparently what we all saw on the outside wasn’t at all what was brewing on the inside. 

As if this week’s earlier news of Kate Spade’s suicide wasn’t enough, hearing about this second too soon passing of another empire of their industry was overwhelming. They both were seemingly at the top and left young daughters behind. The family and friends of each must be in enormous pain, especially given how upset I am and I didn’t know them personally. 

In light of these tragic events I decided tonight’s Find Out Friday had to deal with the elephant in the room; the real struggle of those battling depression. 

I will not pretend I understand what anyone who takes their own life is dealing with. All I know is that their pain must be so unbearable if they can even think about ending a life especially when it appears to be so blessed. 

As a friend pointed out to me tonight, those of us struggling to survive and thrive in our lives feel like those who have money and all of the success in the world have it all. But we have been made painfully aware that having money doesn’t not equal happiness. Rather, it is just a necessary evil. 

I have surely battled my own demons as a chronic migraine patient and at my lowest point I’ll admit I prayed for the pain to stop even if that meant I had an aneurysm and it would all be over in an instant. When that wasn’t the case I cried myself to sleep. But I never thought about killing myself. I did however think the worst of myself and whatever my defected body seemed to keep conjuring up. 

The depths of hell one goes through when battling unbelievable pain and an invisible illness is one thing I hope most of you never understand. But as unexplainable or understandable my pain has been at times, those struggling with mental health problems make my illness look like the aforementioned elephant in the room. 

Since I feel that we must make something positive come from the negative I want to use my platform to remind everyone that help is available, day or night. That maybe if we help those still struggling it combats the those we didn’t know were suffering and couldn’t save. I have seen many people on Instagram reposting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in response to this week’s events and I did as well. Thus, I thought researching the background about this powerful resource was an appropriate topic for this post. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline was created on December 6th, 2004 but that recent date astounds me. I feel like it should have been in existence for many years prior to that. 

The Lifeline was created via a grant from the U.S. Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, alongside the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services. It is administered, monitored, and guided by a chain of other such agencies, advocates, and experts. This grant and the agencies associated with it seek to end suicide as it is currently the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. 

The Lifeline is completely anonymous and anyone who fills out the contact forms on their website does not have to worry that their information will be passed along to a government or outside agency. 

The process of how it works is pretty simple. When someone calls the toll free number they are redirected to someone at a crisis center nearest to them. The phone number can be dialed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. 

Those suffering from an array of emotional issues such as suicidal thoughts but also veterans, the LGBTQ community, disaster survivors, youth, attempted survivors, and anyone who has experienced any other type of loss are invited to call. There are contact options for those who are hard of hearing or are deaf, as well as those who do not speak English as their first language.

Even if you are just looking for a therapist in your area or other resources of support, that information too can be found online or via the Lifeline. 

To make the Lifeline even more assessable, advocates are hoping to reduce the phone number to three digits so that anyone needing help doesn’t have to first go looking for it, just like with 911. 

Another useful tool is that popular search engines like Google and Yahoo have programmed their sites to display the Lifeline phone number and contact info if anyone types is the word suicide, or simpler inquires such as “I want to die”. What a powerful use of technology that I pray does save some. 

While the Lifeline is federally funded, donations are always accepted and is the perfect way to celebrate Giving Tuesday or honor someone who has passed way too soon. 

As if the need for this hotline wasn’t bad enough, there is also an annual World Suicide Prevention Day which will be held on September 10th this year. I hope I see the need of this “holiday” in my lifetime. 

I beg of you, if you are reading this and need help or know of someone that might need help tonight please reach out with kindness and to the professionals who are available awaiting your call.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK [8255].

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  1. Great blog Donna, I hope it can be useful to the people who need it. xo


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