Using Facebook

Did you know that Facebook now has a new suicide prevention protocol feature? If you see a post from a “friend,” you are able to now take different courses of action on Facebook to intervene. Should you see a concerning post, you can activate the report feature by clicking the arrow in the corner of the post. Facebook will prompt you to answer a few questions to indicate if it may be a suicidal post. From there you will have the options to contact the user directly, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline via chat or phone, or have Facebook review the post to determine risk.

In a recent study performed by The American Association of Suicidology, it was found that while many Facebook users have the capacity to assess and determine risk, little is done about it once the risk is determined. This means that YOU have the power to save a life. We’re all guilty of skimming through our news feed, barely reading what is on the screen in front of us. However, Project Seth would encourage you to try to be a little more aware of what you are reading. It could mean the difference of saving a life or losing one.

It was also found in this study, that most users who didn’t know the potential person at risk well, were less likely to reach out and offer support. No surprise there. However, what is a surprise is that when asked, suicidal/depressed users said they would be open to an acquaintance or even a stranger reaching out, rather than no one reaching out at all. While it’s easy to see these posts as “attention seeking” or “over dramatic,” in reality it could be a cry for help. It’s not worth the risk of just continuing to scroll down to the next post, when you could change a person’s life just by reaching out.

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Surviving and talking about suicide

People we are defined by many things and we all are identified by the many roles we play in our lives. As for myself; I am a daughter, a friend, an artist, and a counselor. I have also known someone who committed suicide and know the impact suicide has on a family.
Many of you can be given the identity of survivor and so can I. Whether you truly believe it or not; if you know someone or if you yourself has attempted or thought of suicide and are still here because you are giving life a chance, you my friend, are a survivor.
My whole life was impacted by the loss of my aunt. Seeing that many years later, the loss doesn’t go away. The pain of the lost loved one is never really gone.
Many people truly believe that suicide is the only way out of their own pain and will spare the lives of those closest to them. I cannot express enough how much it is exactly the opposite. Death; but especially suicide, creates a ripple effect that no one can predict or truly understand until you are the one living threw the loss. One death by suicide divided my family and it is still being repaired slowly to this day. Everyone played the blame game and no one won, everyone lost. Not only my aunt was lost, but now family was split in two and stopped talking. Loved ones, in my experience after a suicide, have an instant sense of blame and they run through the million possible outcomes that may have happened, “if I had just…”. It’s like living in a constant state of self-doubt and self- blame.
So why talk about this? Because I bet you there was a time in your life that you may have thought about suicide, even passively, and you’re still here. There is a reason you decided to make that choice to live. It doesn’t matter how small that reason may be. The fact that you chose one more day makes you a survivor and I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone.
It’s a passion of mine to help those who struggle with suicidal thoughts and to help those who have lost someone to suicide because it’s not an easy path to walk, especially alone. Everyone no matter how strong needs a helping hand now and again. It just takes one step towards help. One call to a crisis hotline, telling a close friend or family member that you’re struggling, one call for an appointment with a counselor, or coming to one meeting of the “On the inside group”  that project Seth began and I help facilitate. One step, even a baby step towards help, could mean all the difference.
To those of you who know someone struggling, don’t be afraid to use the word suicide. If someone is considering suicide, saying the word won’t push them over the edge or be hurtful. It’s good to know right away if someone is suicidal so then you can help as soon as possible. It also shows that you care and sometimes that is really what a person needs in that moment.
Remember, the suicide lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 or call 911 in a crisis situation. You can also text GO to 741-741.
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Tears

Project SETH recently learned of two more young adults that took their own lives. Learning of one life lost at the age of 17 was enough to bring immediate tears to my eyes. I felt them rolling down my face before I realized I was crying. 30 minutes later we got the call of another 24 year old who couldn’t see any hope. I was still brushing the tears from my cheeks from the last call when this just compounded what I was feeling and brought emptiness in my heart. This is real.
My first thought is always of the child. How is it possible to see such darkness that you cannot see any hope? I imagine a crowd surrounding them in those troubling last moments and enveloping them with love and compassion and hope. I imagine the darkness lifts and their heart opens to the love they had no idea was so close to them, that accepts them for who they are in our world.
My second thought is for the parent/s. The heartache and the struggle to breathe are real. The emptiness is real. Their death is a physical pain that can take your breath away. Your mind races 24/7 with “what-ifs” and cannot get past what went wrong. You fall to sleep crying. You wake crying. The bond between parent and child doesn’t just end with death; it is a bond that lasts forever.
My next thought is the friends and family. The shock they are feeling and questions they are asking themselves. “What happened? What did I miss? What could I have done?” Maybe they are rehashing the last time spent together and trying to make something out of nothing or maybe realizing the warning signs were present. They will have to be reminded to take one day at a time, but they will survive.
We found out later these young people took their lives within hours of each other. Miles apart they were experiencing the same hopelessness and did not reach for help. They were 2 of the average 17 young people that take their lives on a DAILY basis. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in teens and takes more lives than cancer. Suicide is taking lives of kids at younger and younger ages every day. 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 24…suicide at any age should not be accepted.
The tears I shed for Seth will always include tears for each child we learn died by suicide. It is daily we’re reminded Seth is gone just like other parents trying to live through their loss. Suicide will not stop unless we make a change. Imagine what we can do by sharing our experiences, helping each other, and offering one another hope. Our goal is to hear more stories of hope and share fewer and fewer stories filled only with memories. This is real. Let’s be the change.

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