Life is precious! The disturbing news hit the press late last month about the alarming escalating rates of suicide in this country. The overall suicide rate rose by 24% from 1999 to 2014 according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This led me to contemplate why this is happening and how we as humans can help support others. As I was deep in thought about the impact suicide has on all of us, Sedgwick launched caring counts℠ which is an excellent fit for the discussion.
Recently I began volunteering as a crisis counselor. It is very rewarding to make a positive impact on someone’s life. I have to say it totally changed the way I approach my everyday life. You never know what is going on with the person next to you. We all have things we are dealing with and we are sometimes not really able to focus on anything else other than our own problem. It could be a recent death of a loved one, a serious medical condition, a worry about our child or simple body aches and pain.
Now when a person in a retail setting is rude or terse with me, my first thought is I bet something is really bothering that person. I find myself trying to be especially kind and nice so that maybe I can be the one to help them have a more positive day. Before my volunteer work, I think I was too quick to judge and feel they should have treated me better.
Human beings are the only species on the planet that can override the survival instincts and actually make a decision to end their life. The remaining question is always why did they do it and how did they get to such a dark place that led them to believe the world would be better without them? These questions are painful and leave behind a legacy of sadness, guilt and “what ifs” for those left behind. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were able to see the pain inside of someone and help them feel they are important?
There have been a few studies conducted on those who committed suicide and left a note. In the analysis of these notes the primary factor that seemed to determine whether a person committed suicide was their prevalent belief that the world, their family and friends would be better off without them because they felt they were such a burden. This was a more pronounced factor than feeling depressed and hopeless and is believed to be a key driver behind intentional suicide. 
Caring really does count! It doesn’t require much to be nice, speak kindly, show empathy and help someone whether or not you perceive they are worthy. In the end we are all accountable to each other as human beings.
National Suicide Prevention 800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text “Go” to 741-741 (free for most carriers)
- Joiner, T. E., Pettit, J. W., Walker, R. L., Voelz, Z. R., Cruz, J., Rudd, M. D., & Lester, D. (2002). Perceived burdensomeness and suicidality: Two studies on the suicide notes of those attempting and those completing suicide. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 21(5), 531-545.
National Center for Health Statistics www.cdc.gov/nchs
Dr. Teresa Bartlett, SVP, Medical Quality