Check In On Your Friends: Why Community is Essential to Suicide Prevention
By Colleen Burns
If you search “Check On Your Friends” in Google Images, you will find a plethora of quotes about friendship and the obligatory “check on your strong friends…” photo. The underlying message of those images is the same: you never know what an individual is going through, and showing interest in them may make all the difference. In fact, the CDC identifies connection to family or community as a factor that protects persons at risk from dying by suicide.
Checking in with friends is particularly important in times of crisis. I was affected by a suicide in July 2017. I didn’t know the individual personally, but their career connected me to fans from around the globe, many of whom I consider friends. One of my first thoughts when the news broke was whether my friends were okay and safe. I spent much of my time contacting them those first few days, our group consoling each other through our collective grief. I wasn’t the only one: our community banded together to support each other online and in-person. We created support groups on Facebook, developed a hashtag that we could use on Twitter when we needed help, and connected in-person at different events.
Since the suicide happened, we’ve adjusted to a new normal. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have our moments of grief. Certain dates usher in fear and anxiety, and we check in with each other to get through them. It’s the best thing about having community: we’re there for each other in good times and bad, supporting each other.
So, check in on your friends. You never know when someone may need you.
Colleen Burns is a marketing communications professional who has worked with organizations in the behavioral health field. She volunteers at the Jordan Porco Foundation. Her lived experiences inspire her to advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. She lives in the Farmington Valley with her family and enjoys music, traveling, and being creative.
If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “CONNECT” to 741-741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.