But it's not that simple, is it? For some of us, due to chronic illness, PTSD, depression, or other physical or mental ailments, finding the courage to go forward is a daily battle. For others, they choose to end their suffering by completing suicide.
This month, I am honored to be working with Scudder Intervention Services Foundation, Inc. (SISFI) on their Suicide Awareness and Prevention Tour in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, NY. While I relied on SISFI for support myself after my brother's suicide almost a year-and-a-half ago, I was shocked to learn that during their September tour they interrupted 192 attempted suicides! That's something else!!
The difference with SISFI's 'troops' is that they are truly 'boots on the ground;' that is, they go to the person in crisis rather than referring them to an agency that may only be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. At any hour of the day or night, SISFI volunteers are available to personally talk to and/or visit individuals in crisis.
As Mr. Brett A. Scudder, SISFI president says: "“It is imperative that our communities rally together to be educated and aware of the mindset of someone suffering with emotional distress and the early warning signs to intervene and prevent them from hurting themselves or taking their life because they feel alone."
And that, in my opinion, takes lots of courage. The suicidal person is in tremendous pain and Scudder's team will go to them and simply hold their hand or talk or listen or give them a hug and tell them they are not alone. Certified in suicide prevention, Scudder knows that traditional avenues available to those in crisis are highly clinical and limited. The goal is to train and deploy dozens of volunteer Mental Health First Aid Responders in communities across his service area and, in the future, beyond.
We must change the paradigm of how we respond to those in distress. We must go to them rather than making them come to us. We must not just be another faceless voice instructing the person what to do on Monday morning.
Hear, hear for SISFI and let's make their mission statement our own:
"TO PROVIDE AWARENESS, SERVICES, PROGRAMS, HEALING AND RESOURCES TO ADDRESS/ALLEVIATE HUMAN SUFFERING AND TO PROMOTE EMOTIONAL WELLNESS, MENTAL/BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AND LIFE SKILLS."
This, my friends, will take lots of courage.