Suicide wasn’t on my radar of concern, until it was

Suicide wasn’t on my radar of concern, until it was

By Rachel Papke

Suicide wasn’t on my radar of concern, until it was—WHAP! Like a jab or uppercut that I didn’t see coming because I wasn’t even fighting. That’s how it felt that day the phone rang and I learned my young adult cousin died by suicide—the wound immediate and riddled with unanswered questions, confusion, and feelings of guilt. What could I have done? How could I help my family? What did I miss?

Turns out, I unknowingly missed a lot. My 38 years on this planet earth was devoid of educating myself about suicide. I didn’t know the suicide warning signs and wasn’t aware of the stifling stigma that prevents many people from seeking help. Was this stigma the reason why suicide and mental health discussions weren’t woven into conversations throughout my life?

I mean, it didn’t come up—not once.

That’s where my life trajectory changed. I reached out to the Jordan Porco Foundation to ask for guidance and noticed that they had a job posting for a Communications Manager. I knew I could do better with my level of engagement in taking action to prevent suicide: a passion within me ignited. I applied, was hired, and from that day forward have devoted my time to the Jordan Porco Foundation’s mission of preventing suicide, promoting mental health, and creating a message of hope for young adults.

So here is your morsel, since I know today’s pace of life leaves little time for a sit-down dinner, take time to familiarize yourself with this topic. Acknowledge that we can individually and collectively do better in starting conversations, keeping them going, and in understanding the scope of the major public health concern of suicide, and how to take action to prevent suicide.

Here is how you can help prevent suicide, adapted from our Nine out of Ten program

Be Aware

  • Understand the prevalence of college student suicide
  • Learn about the warning signs of suicide and the resources that can help
  • Look out for others and pay attention to signs that someone may be struggling

Speak Up

  • Use your voice to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention
  • Challenge stigma, pay attention to how you talk about mental health and suicide, and educate others when you hear inappropriate jokes or problematic language
  • Talk about why suicide prevention is important to you

Reach Out

  • Express your concern when you are worried about someone and let them know you care
  • Connect others to professionals who can help
  • Ask for help for yourself when you need it

Help Someone

  • Use what you have learned to help someone in need

If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “HOME” to 741741 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.