September is annually Suicide Prevention Month and Merced County held multiple events to help raise awareness and also educate about mental health. For this weigh in, members of the We ‘Ced youth reporter cohort answered questions about suicide being a present topic in their communities, if they have thought about becoming trained in mental health first aid, and what they would want to tell someone who is suicidal.
For more information, please check out the Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s page on Suicide Prevention Month and the National Alliance for Mental Illness’ page on Suicide Prevention Month.
Editor’s note: This weigh in does mention instances of suicide in their communities. Please proceed with caution as the content may be triggering or sensitive.
Suicide is a topic that has been present in all communities, teenagers and LGBTQIA, like me, included. I definitely think that it would be beneficial to learn mental health first aid. If I was put in the position to prevent someone’s suicide I would tell them that they are not alone, if they ever need to talk I’m always open to listening, and that one day things will get better.
Stephanie Gurtel, 18
Suicide has not been a topic that’s been present in my community, but the coronavirus has made it something that’s been brought up more in my age group. During the beginning of the outbreak in Merced, a girl who went to my old high school committed suicide, and it was talked about for a few days afterwards. Since the suicide rates have shot up since the shutdown, it has become something many people are more aware of.
I’ve never thought about being trained in mental health aid, although I would like to. In high school, I briefly wanted to be a school psychologist because I think so many teenagers go through mental health crises, but don’t get the help they need. I would love to be trained even though I don’t plan on going into the field because I would be able to help others around me as well as my own children some day.
I would want to tell them that the present is ever-changing. When we’re teenagers, we often think that whatever is going on in the present moment is evergreen; that we will never escape the feelings we feel right now and the situations we have to deal with. But as a person who chose to keep living even in times I really didn’t want to, I can say that it does get better. And even though it may seem like everyone says that, but it never happens, it’s closer to you than you think. You may not have a perfect life in the future, but you may have a life that makes the unbearable, bearable, and that is a life worth living. There is always a future life worth living to see.
Rachel Livinal, 18
Suicide is not a topic that is talked about in my community not that I know of. Its usually brushed under the rug and not talked about with you struggling with suicidal thoughts or self-harming. People should really take it seriously and bring it to the light that it does happen in our community.
I have thought about doing some sort of counseling for low-income or youth that suffer from suicidal thoughts to be able to prevent them from not doing it. But honestly is just a battle that gets harder and you should be there for someone
I would want to tell them that it’s not worth and there is so much in life and people who are not even there for you now. You can never go back to when you were just normal but you could make it. Even I don’t know if I’m going to make it but we keep trying and make the goals to push that idea. Never give up.
Cyana Price, 16
Yes, but I feel it should be a more relevant topic within my community and others, because we may be unaware of individuals within the workplace, home, and or society in general that may be having suicidal thoughts that we are unaware of. It is essential that we make it a priority that we ask “How are you?” and follow up with, “How are you really?” to our loved ones, colleagues, and people we meet on a day to day basis, for we may never know the impact this question may have upon their day, it shows that we care, and that they matter.
Yes, I have thought of educating myself and or seeking out resources to ensure that I am prepared for aiding someone who may be suicidal, and or have suicidal ideations. But also, to be aware of the ways I could help myself become better at taking care of my mental health and those of others.
“There is so much life we have yet to experience, I will be here for you no matter the circumstance we can and will get through this together! These obstacles you are facing are not permanent but momentary, I know it feels like you are drowning in the sea of internal and external thoughts, societal pressures, and the normalized feeling of being “put together” at all times, but you will see the sun eventually, you will NOT swim forever. There are so many beautiful things we will encounter in life having children, getting that dream job, meeting our lover, starting a family, and being happy with the skin we are in and realizing that the words of our demons and of others only have meaning if we give it the power to have meaning. Whatever higher power is beyond us, spent diligent time to create you, me, and everyone else in this world. We are all pieces of art, we have a purpose beyond what external factors may say because this higher power created me and you to see the beauty that is life.”