Introduction to Suicide Awareness

Start here if talking about suicide feels difficult for you

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Phone: 800-273-8255

In emergencies, call 911

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline:

Phone: 1-877-726-4727

Suicide: Lets Talk About It

Don't Put Out the Fire

Let me share an illustration with you: Fire; fire can be a very destructive thing. When left unmonitored, a fire can easily go from a helpful tool to raging disaster. Yet, there are times when a fire can bare good results. Controlled fires in the National Parks can be very healthy. It clears out overgrowth, debris, and allows the younger trees and plants to grow stronger. It can carry benefits. Extinguishing a fire can lead to forest overgrowth that can suppress new growth.

Depression and the thoughts that go with it are not something to extinguish at the first sign. Suppressing depression and ignoring our own - or others - suicidal thoughts can result in long-term harm. It can even result in doing something drastic and taking our own life. This suppression of depression and the thoughts that go with it can lead to overgrowth; an overgrowth of helplessness, hopelessness, and shame - just to name a few. It suppresses new growth; new ways of thinking, coping, and not just surviving, but really living. So what do we do?
We acknowledge it.

It's Time to Acknowledge the Flames

Our thoughts are information; similarly, the pain someone may feel carries information. The pain and the thoughts that someone may hear over and over are trying to tell us something. It might be hard to find at first; there is a lot of overgrowth. A lot of unhealthy coping, or discouragement, or previous bad experiences, or maybe the depression is as thick as the Amazon rainforest... Whatever the case, it's going to take asking some questions to understand what the pain is telling us.

To do that, we need to 'sit' with the pain and the depression. Listen to it, ask questions to understand it, really try to dig into it. If you could magically make the pain disappear, what would you make vanish? Sadness? Anger? Resentment? What is the core of the depression or suicidal thoughts or self harm?


A fantastic method of working through this is to share it with someone you trust - or to be that someone that can be trusted.

When we are open to communication, that is us acknowledging the flames. A person who shares their pain is being vulnerable. Being vulnerable can be frightening and difficult. By finding someone who we can feel safe with, we make it easier to be vulnerable. For example, have you ever had a pet that you told your secrets to? It may be because we're with that animal often, all they can do is listen, and we know that they won't spill our secrets to others. So what about other humans?

Being someone who is willing to talk about suicide, depression, and self harm can be an intimidating task; but it is worthwhile. Imagine you had the opportunity to save someone's life by miraculously taking away their disease: would you do it? Now imagine you could save someone's life just by listening to them and helping them talk about their feelings. Would you do it? Talking about suicide and depression and self harm can be intimidating because we may not be sure what to say. I'm here to tell you that it's not too scary. You can do it! That goes for both the person experiencing the depression and the person who is supporting them through it.

To go back to the illustration of fire, listening is similar to monitoring and directing the fire. Left unchecked or ignored, fire can get out of control. However, when people monitor and control the fire it can result in good health for a forest. Similarly with depression, if we continue to talk about it, monitor it, express our feelings and thoughts - we enable ourselves and others to work with the emotions, thoughts, and feelings. This could allow for new ways of thinking and coping with the depressing thoughts and beliefs.