By Eileen Davis
MetroWest Chamber Board of Director
FRAMINGHAM – No amount of power or privilege takes away suicide risk, as Meghan Markle demonstrated this week.
When we observe high-profile individuals like Markle share their own personal experiences of having suicidal thoughts, it reduces the stigma around suicide. It opens a conversation among our families and our communities.
But how do we start that conversation? What is the most effective way to broach a topic with an unthinkable outcome? It can be challenging for anyone to talk about suicide, however, that talking matters. How we respond when someone shares their own thoughts of suicide matters.
Many people keep their feelings to themselves and outwardly may show no signs of thoughts of suicide.
This is so often the case that when someone does die by suicide that it comes as a shock to their family and friends. Building a community where it is safe to talk about suicidal feelings, where people are acknowledged for sharing their lived experiences, and are believed when they share their own struggles matters.
Providing safe space to talk about the topic of suicide or specific suicidal thoughts matters. Research shows that asking someone if they are considering suicide does not increase that person’s suicidal thoughts or make them more likely to die by suicide. Instead, it is the start of a very real conversation
that can lead to someone getting the mental health care and support they need.
When we acknowledge that someone, even a famous person we have never met, can have feelings of suicide, those around us who may be suffering in silence feel validated and heard. Even when asked if they are thinking of suicide, someone may not immediately feel ready to answer honestly.
However, keeping lines of communication open may encourage someone to share their own struggles with mental health with a trusted partner, family member, or friend because suddenly the idea seems less daunting. Knowing there are safe places in our community to turn for help matters.
There are many programs including professional counseling, in-patient psychiatric care, outpatient therapy, and support groups, many of which now meet virtually. There are confidential help lines like Call2Talk, our local National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center, and the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there is help and there is hope. Always. You matter.
Call2Talk: 508-532-2255 & 413-505-5111
Crisis Text Line: text C2T to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Mass211 (to find other local mental health resources): dial 2-1-1 from any phone
Eileen Davis is a Board of Director at the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce. Davis, a Framingham resident launched the United Way of Tri-County’s Call2Talk. She is vice president of Mass2-1-1. Call2Talk is a nonprofit organizational member of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce.
Editor’s Note: SOURCE and the MetroWest Chamber have formed a partnership. The Chamber’s column will run on Tuesdays on the digital news media outlet.