Thursday, September 10, 2015


If you are a survivor of a friend or loved one lost to suicide, you can join millions of other people tonight by lighting a candle near a window at 8 p.m. your local time. I’ll be lighting one. 

Over 800,000 people around the world end their lives each year. For teens and young adults in the U.S. it’s the second leading cause of death, and about 25 attempts are made for each completed suicide. 

The biggest predictor for suicide is depression (although suicidality only affects a small subset of those suffering depression). Alcohol or substance abuse makes things a lot worse.

Depression is highly treatable.

Suicide is preventable.

My YA thriller, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, deals with suicide. You could even say that it’s about suicide. It’s a topic in which I’ve long been interested.

It’s still a difficult subject that makes most people uncomfortable. The stigma surrounding it (in the west) is strong. This dates back at least to medieval times and the stance the Christian church adopted toward suicide. Even though we've rethought the old desecrate a suicide’s corpse, bury them at the crossroads, seize all their assets and exile their family, we've still got a ways to go.

If we can’t talk about it, we can’t help someone who needs it--including the devastated family members who survive a loved one’s suicide.

Let's talk about it. We can save lives.

If a friend or loved one is showing any of these signs, ask them if they’re okay.

R U OK? is the name of a national Australian suicide prevention program.

Have them call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or text "go" to 741-741.

“The act of showing care and concern to someone who may be vulnerable to suicide can be a game-changer. Asking them whether they are OK, listening to what they have to say in a non-judgmental way, and letting them know you care, can all have a significant impact. Isolation increases the risk of suicide, and, conversely, having strong social connections is protective against it, so being there for someone who has become disconnected can be life-saving.”

The International Association for Suicide Prevention, part of the World Health Organization is sponsoring World Suicide Prevention Day and the quote above is from their site.

The American Federation for Suicide Prevention sponsors National Suicide Prevention Week.

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