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December 10, 2018

12/6/2018 11:34:00 AM
September is "Suicide Prevention" month

Dear Editor;
We need to stop labeling suicide as "selfish." It is important to understand that suicide comes from a place of blinding pain, and not a desire to behave selfishly. Most often, the individual is experiencing a pain so intense that they are blind to the impact that their actions will have on others. In some cases they might even believe that choosing to die by suicide will liberate their loved ones from the "burden" that they believe they have become.
In an article for The Mighty entitled "Please Stop Saying Suicide is Selfish," Mesa Fama argues that "suicide and selfishness have been synonymous for far too long in our society; it's almost like we think we can guilt people into staying by saying they're selfish." The fact of the matter is that shaming people with this rhetoric does little to prevent suicides from occurring. Ultimately, shaming people who are already in a vulnerable place can do more harm than good - it can prevent people from speaking up about the way that they feel. One of the biggest obstacles in suicide prevention is that little can be done until someone who is at-risk asks for help, since mental illness is often invisible to those around them.
September is Suicide Prevention month. At this time, we should be thinking about how to create a space where people feel like they can come forward and ask for the help that they may need. Compassion and empathy are more effective tools than shame and guilt in the prevention of suicide. We should think about our language surrounding suicide, and the effects our words can have on the people who are listening.
Please join me in wearing your suicide prevention t-shirt to work on Fridays this month to encourage awareness about this issue, and visit for suggestions on how to respond compassionately if someone you know mentions thoughts of suicide, among other resources.

Hannah Puralewski

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