Dealing with death is not easy. It’s especially difficult when dealing with the death of a loved one that was 100% preventable. Suicide is real. It’s something that the African American community must begin tackling head on.
Not too long ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday with some very close friends in Washington D.C. Just a small group of people, as I preferred an intimate gathering to usher-in a new decade of my life surrounded by loved ones who I felt were really invested in my life and vice-versa. We had an amazing time. Drinks, laughs, fun moments, intimate words + more drinks, more laughs, and more fun.
Little did I know, it would be the last time I saw one of the people in attendance. Suicide is real. Not only does it affect the individual, it leaves family and friends with a litany of mind-wrenching thoughts: Was I not a good friend? Should I have done more? Did I not pay attention? Could I have prevented this? Did I contribute to this?
Joyner Lucas – “Im Sorry”
Those questions eventually transition to a wide-range of emotions including: Sadness, anger, guilt, and depression. When the smoke clears and we’re able to find some sense of acceptance, we begin to see a clear trajectory of how things happened. Suicide is real.
In hindsight, we begin to realize how fragile life is. We begin to understand the importance of absorbing every smile, lingering every laugh, listening to every word, enjoying every single moment, and paying very close attention.
This article is not about listing warning signs, it’s a plea to be our brother’s keeper. Here are a few things to look out for:
1.) Increased use of drugs or alcohol – Having a moment or two where you end up drinking a little too much is not what I mean here. It’s the continued and heightened abuse of drugs and/or alcohol.
2.) Withdrawing from activities and becoming increasingly isolated – You know what the people around you like. Again, this is not a moment in time of just being over it (we all have those moments) it’s noticing that a loved one is intentionally drawing themselves away from what you KNOW they love.
3.) Giving away prized possessions – If a person starts randomly giving away things you know they love, this should be pause to pay attention.
4.) Continually expressing that they are a burden on others – If a loved ones conversation continually leans towards them being an issue or burden on others, you should initiate an honest conversation with them about how they’re viewing themselves and their place in life.
Again, the individual should be taken into consideration when looking at these warning signs. We are responsible for each other. Suicide is real. It’s better to be an irritating friend than the grieving one.
Rest in Love to the loved ones we’ve lost to suicide. We understand and respect our responsibility to end stigma and begin the healing conversation.
Source: American Foundation For Suicide Prevention