I am writing this on September 10, 2015. To some, this is just another regular day on the calendar, but to others, it is known as Suicide Awareness Day. The word suicide holds a lot of heaviness and is a subject most would rather not talk about. But the thing is: it needs to be talked about. It is an issue that deserves more attention, and it is up to us to spread mindfulness of this deeply emotional seven-letter word.
There are people who you have met in your lifetime who are fighting battles you know nothing about, and those are the same people who put on a smile through the worst of times. It could be someone near and dear to you, or even a complete stranger you brush past one day. Internal struggles people are facing are more than likely not evident, which is one of the scariest things to think about. Although, if you are aware that a loved one is struggling with anything at all, just let them know you’re there. Never underestimate the difference you can make in someone else’s life, because you never know when they may need that shoulder to lean on.
In July, I attended the grand opening of Jackson’s Garden of Hope in Jackson, New Jersey. This garden is a beautiful sanctuary built in memory of loved ones who have gone too soon. Jackson’s Garden of Hope is funded by Where Angels Play: The Sandy Ground Project. They collaborated with a dear friend of my family, who was behind the creation of this garden, that provides a place for people to come together in the hope of finding peace in painful situations. Where Angels Play has also built 26 playgrounds on the East Coast in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
I felt a great deal of emotion while walking the grounds of Jackson’s Garden of Hope. Suicide is never an easy thing to take in, especially when it has happened to someone you know. It saddened me, reading all the names of loved ones carved into the ground. It made me hope all the more that no more names would be added, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. The first step to turning this hope into a reality is educating and spreading awareness of the severity of the issue. Suicide can be prevented. Talk, read, listen.
You may have heard about Project Semicolon. This project was created in an effort to raise understanding about suicide prevention. I first saw some articles published about it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and fell in love with the message that it’s continuously trying to spread. To participate is simple – the only thing you need to do is draw (or tattoo, it’s up to you) a semicolon on your wrist. You may be asking yourself: why a semicolon? As stated on the Project Semicolon website, "A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you."
You are never alone. If you are reading this right now and you feel as if you do not have a choice anymore, you do. Your life matters, your story matters; there is going to be someone there to love, help and guide you in the right direction.
We should never look down on someone unless we are helping him or her up.