Today is the last day of National Suicide Prevention Week. Before Instagram reminded me about this (I need to start a calendar of important dates!), I was thinking about the friends and loved ones I hadn’t heard from in a while. Tomorrow’s self-reflection Sunday is about reaching out to good friends who we’ve fallen out of touch with, but TODAY, I want to encourage you to reach out to those around you that may be suffering emotionally. Have you noticed any of your loved ones acting more negatively; less active on their social media; not responding to messages; or disengaged from things they usually have an interest in?
Call and ask them “Are you ok?”
According to the Samaritans, small gestures such as saying ‘hello’ or asking, ‘how are you today?’ can sometimes make a big difference to how someone is feeling. Suicide affects people of all ages and backgrounds however the rate of suicide within the young black community is amongst the highest. My mum isn’t the most emotional person in the world and my upbringing didn’t really include much talking about my feelings. It was drilled into my brain that I needed to be strong in every situation which is common in many black households.
I’m the opposite with my children. I’ve made it normal in my household to say how we feel.
Studies suggest that stigma about mental illness and the feeling that one will be outcast further or ignored may keep black youth from sharing their thoughts. Couple this with a lack of understanding of black issues by non-black therapists; it’s so easy to fall into an abyss. Black people have unique stressors that need different solutions and approaches. Without this tailored approach to listening and understanding, there is a risk of the problems being exacerbated rather than alleviated.
If you are worried that someone may be depressed or thinking about suicide, talk to them. Ask them how they are feeling. We can make a difference by listening without judgement. If they open up to you about their suicidal feelings, talk to them and tell them they are not alone; tell them that you will help them to explore others ways to deal with their feelings such as accessing support from the NHS and charities. Charity Rethink Mental Illness offers comprehensive guidance on how to support those feeling suicidal.
There’s no denying the weight that supporting someone struggling may have on us, so make sure that you consider your own feelings. It’s important to talk. Life has so many peaks and troughs; support and love will help us all to get through the tough times.
Sending love and light always.