Every 40 seconds a life is lost due to suicide. Suicide rates are the highest in high-income countries and suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. These are deeply saddening statistics that I know we all wish were not true. To increase awareness and promote a more collective effort towards prevention, The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has deemed the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, on October 10th, as ‘suicide prevention.’ The objective of choosing this theme is to bring to light the severity of this issue and show that it needs to be a part of the global public health agenda.
Most suicidal individuals give off signals, or warning signs. These warning signs can include; talking about suicide, self-loathing or self-hatred, self-destructive behavior, or withdrawing from others. With that being said, it is essential to understand that suicides still occur without any warning signs ever being present. This is where I believe each and every one of us plays a pivotal role in the lives of others, even those we may never even interact with. I read an article a few weeks ago detailing a newly coined term ‘sonder.’ Sonder is defined as: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
I like to tie in ‘sonder’ alongside the idea of positive reciprocity. Positive reciprocity occurs when an action committed by one individual, that has a positive effect on someone else, is returned with an action that has an approximately equal positive effect. The ultimate goal is that that positive light reaches someone who has been living in the dark for so long and feels as if they have nothing to live for. You have the power to make a positive difference in somebody’s life – whether that somebody is someone you know or someone you will never meet. We must never forget that it does not matter how dark a room is, the tiniest bit of light will always shine through. It is only after a storm passes that a rainbow will appear.
It is in the darkest of times and the toughest of moments that we learn the most. We learn not only about ourselves, but what we are capable of, and how strong we really are. What is success without failure? You can never truly appreciate the feeling of success if you have never failed. The beauty of life is being able to wake up each and every morning with a fresh start. We can choose to let what happened yesterday, good or bad, affect how today goes, or, we can leave the past in the past and look ahead. You have new obstacles to overcome, new challenges to face, and new opportunities to look forward to. Believe in yourself, always. Good things don’t come easy, they never will. Live in the moment – happiness is and always will be a choice.
I challenge everyone who reads this to perform a random act of kindness. After doing so, I want you to understand that you may have just saved a life. We are all in this together – everything we do, no matter how small or irrelevant it may seem, has the potential to have a profound impact on someone.