This project was something that I wanted to spark up a conversation in every home, in every inner circle, and in every work space. My main focus was to highlight the stories of people who have dealt with suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. I also wanted to hear the stories of someone who knew someone who has committed suicide. I conducted three interviews and their stories shaped a beautiful masterpiece that will help many others down the road of life. These three women who were brave to come forward and share their stories helped people spark the conversations. Suicide is a touchy subject, especially in the Black community. It seems as if suicide is a taboo and sadly that keeps people misinformed and often times unsupported.
This project was a three part series over the course of one month, specifically focusing on the major topics that go unnoticed when it comes to suicide: The signs, Interviews, and the week of HOPE.
Know the signs!
In 2020 we should be more aware of the signs of suicide. People give off signs that they are struggling mentally due to traumatic life events or mental illness. Most of the time they go unnoticed. If you’re more aware of the signs, you could save someone's life. Did you know that most people who suffer from suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide do not seek help or reach out due to feeling embarrassed or feeling as if no one cares about them? Let’s stop this stigma by knowing the signs.
- Social Isolation.
- Sudden Social Withdrawal.
- Giving away personal items.
- Talks of hopelessness, guilt, and shame.
- Saying goodbye to friends and family on a regular basis.
- Conversations about dying, being better off dead, killing themselves, or what if I died today?
- Marks or scars in known spots of fast "bleed outs" (wrists, neck, under the tongue, hands).
- Drug or Alcohol Abuse/Reckless behavior (Drunk driving).
How to prevent it
TALK! TALK! TALK!
A lot of times, people that are dealing with suicidal thoughts also have underlying mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder and others. Most of the time, they feel as if they do not have the support they need but here is where YOU come in. Talk to the people close to you. Reach out to them and check on them. It only takes one phone call or text to let someone know that they matter and that you care about them. Let them vent, and offer your presence as a safe space. Also if they are going through a really bad time, offer resources that can help them, like therapy and support groups, or even support animals. The best gift you can give is hope.
Dealing with suicidal thoughts
“I started to lose confidence in myself, and the people around me noticed, and when they told me...I noticed what they were saying was right. My advice is to start loving yourself and know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.” - Laken Long
I had the opportunity to interview a very close friend of mine. She shared her struggle with suicidal thoughts and depression and how it started, and how she conquered it. Her bravery has also helped me through my own struggles with the same thing and I hope that someone will take her quote into their heart. As we got deeper into the interview, I asked her permission to ask her the hard questions. These questions would take her back into the dark place that she was in mentally. She said, "yes that's fine, it's going to help someone, so I'm all for it.
Kay: Did you self harm at the time?
Laken: 7th grade got a lot worse...I started staying home. I stopped wanting to go out. I just wanted to be home by myself. When I was at home bymyself it helped a little bit but when I was by myself, and nobody was there, um...it was more areas for me to explore doing harm to myself.
Kay: Let's talk about that. What did you do.
Laken: I started with rubber bands, actually. I started putting rubber bands around my wrist and when I was getting to the point of getting angry or upset, I would start popping myself with the rubber bands. You wouldn't think that a black girl would do that...but it helped me take away the pain for a while, but it didn't last. That's when I started looking at the gun at home a lot. I would stare at it every time.
To hear the whole interview click here to listen to the interview on The Purpose Report.
I remember when...
“You never know what someone is going through...the advice I’d give is, it’s going to be hard, life is hard, and it’s okay to feel how you feel. I’d say channel those feelings in another way.” - Alexis Ledwell
In this interview, lex shared her story about someone she knew who sadly took their life. She dropped GEMS to help others know that there is hope. During our interview she talked about how she felt when someone she was close with lost their close friend to suicide. After we talked more about what happened, she started describing ways to cope and get through when times get hard. She gave examples of healthy ways to find an outlet to get better, and to know that you are not alone in the ongoing battles life throws at us. Learning how to channel your problems into forms of art was one thing Alexis stressed in this interview. She said that finding another way to hide is to hide in a hobby just to get your mind off of things. I personally thought that was amazing because a lot of people who are creative tend to deal with the hardships of life by putting their whole self into their art.
To hear the more from this interview click here to listen on The Purpose Report