Mental Health Practices and Suicide Prevention
The most severe punishment a prison inmate can be given is solitary confinement. Yet people struggling with depression, suicide, and mental health issues may feel isolated even when they are surrounded by friends and loved ones. In the wake of a global pandemic where social isolation was the policy and now with inflation, war, political unrest, and looming climate chaos it can be difficult for any of us to maintain a positive outlook. This is why having interpersonal coping skills, cultivating resilience, and having a strong community is imperative.
We All Feel Alone and Overwhelmed Sometimes. It is a part of the human experience and it isn’t talked about enough. Thus when we feel alone we often think there is something wrong with us and this compounds our feeling of isolation. We only put our best selves forward on social media, we are encouraged to always be strong, and advertisers bombard us with messages that we are not enough. We live in a society that prioritizes wealth and status over mental health and well-being.
Connection is the Antidote. There are many forms of connection. It can be a moment to slow down and connect with one’s own breath or a quiet space with one’s self. It can be time in nature connecting with the land, a waterfall, the clouds, a sunset, a starry sky, the sound of ocean waves, a babbling brook, the smell of a flower, or colorful leaves animated by the wind. Connection can be as simple as a shared moment with your pet. Maybe it is that feeling of awe that one gets from a great piece of music, an inspired painting, or a beautiful poem.
For many of us the best form of connection is with other humans, friends, children, elders, or family that we love. Connection allows us to feel that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. It can give us a feeling of belonging or fill us with a sense of awe. It can make our individual struggles seem less overwhelming and give us glimpses of light in dark times.
Suicide Prevention is a Way of Life: Deep depression or thoughts of suicide don’t generally happen over night. They are usually the culmination of prolonged stress, a traumatic experience, a painful loss, unprocessed grief, or an unhealthy lifestyle.
For most of us there is a natural ebb and flow of emotional highs and lows. There are daily practices that can help us keep from swinging too far in either extreme, and there are tools to help us shift when we become stuck. Taking time each day to be grateful, stretching, a moment for relaxation, a walk, eating healthy food, dancing to your favorite song, reaching out to a friend, making art. There are endless ways to incorporate healthy practices into our life so that stress, grief, and overwhelm don’t begin to accumulate.
THE PLEDGE FOR LIFE is a vow we make with those we love. It’s a promise that we make with our closest family or friends that makes it safe to talk about depression or suicide and all that’s connected to it. Sometimes when the pain of existence is too much to bear we can lose sight of the impact our actions have on those we love. Sometimes just taking the time be in the presence of someone who loves us is enough to weather out the storm.
-Pledge for Life Website
Each year UNIFY joins with organizations everywhere to highlight the importance of mental health issues and raise awareness about suicide prevention. World Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10 which also kicks off celebrations for International Day of Peace. This is a reminder that peace between nations or individuals starts within each of us and ripples outward.
Mental health is a personal practice and a community effort. There is a list of resources on the Pledge for Life website. Take 90 seconds to watch the video above and make the pledge yourself with someone you love. You are not alone, even if it may feel that way sometimes.