Why Brian and Chrissy Think It’s Important to Talk About Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
October is Suicide Prevention Month, and that got us talking the other day about mental health and the importance of talking about it and checking in with friends and family. Some of us might be inclined to worry about our physical health and check in with friends and family coping with physical ailments, but mental health is just as important.
For Chrissy, she thought about how much the pandemic has affected her stress levels. We've all felt "not ourselves" at times this year, and honestly, we haven't been able to do some of the things that might have helped us manage stress levels, like hugging friends and family, participating in team sports or socializing in larger groups.
This is why it's so important to listen and seek out those who have become withdrawn. Brian mentioned how a stranger really brightened a dark time for him by making an effort to reach out:
It was on the anniversary of my best friend's sudden passing. I had just gone to visit him at his grave and on the way back home, I just lost it. Why him? My best bud. Just taken ... just like that.
I was bawling, banging the steering wheel, and questioning everything — all the things that we do when we're grieving hard. I couldn't go straight home, but I didn't actually know where to go. My eyes were puffy, my nose was running, I was pissed at the world, and quite frankly I was hungry. I stopped at a nondescript cafe near my house. My plan was to sit in the back of the cafe, not look at or talk to anyone and just get something warm to eat to settle my stomach.
My attempt to isolate myself was a cry for help, even though I didn't know it. The cafe owner (a complete stranger) didn't say anything to me, but her energy suggested that she knew I wasn't OK. She walked over and asked why I came in. I was confused, but oddly comfortable with her strange question.
She took a seat next to me, and I started telling her about how 4 years ago, I had lost the best friend a guy could ever have. She sat and listened to me for at least 30 minutes. Before I left, it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I had a new friend.
This is all a way of saying: we know that sometimes people who need a little help won't ask for it, even if they are depressed or suicidal. Meanwhile, friends or acquaintances could see the signs but worry that they shouldn't intrude or come off as invasive.
We know many people out there in our everyday world are struggling and won't ask for help. Maybe if more of us took the time to simply ask someone how they're doing — perhaps a complete stranger — we'd create the kind of dialogue needed to begin the process of healing.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is here to help, both those dealing with mental health issues and suicide and those who want to promote awareness. They have several resources promoting good mental health and are hosting a variety of virtual and socially distanced events to promote suicide awareness. Click here to learn more about getting involved.
And most importantly, take a little extra time to look out for yourself and others. We'll get through this together.