Let’s Talk About the “S” Word
Contributors: Gia Quiñones, BIPOC and Latinx Outreach Program Director at SAHM, and Kendall Shelton, BIPOC & Latinx Outreach Program Specialist at SAHM
We wonder what comes to your mind when you read the title and see “S word.” Is it Stigma? Is it Suicide? Maybe yes, perhaps not at all, but either way, prepare yourself for a blog full of “S” words.
September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month – a month where suicide attempt survivors, suicide loss survivors, advocates, mental health professionals, allies, friends, families, and most importantly, communities, can come together for a common cause.
Most of us have heard the terms “suicide prevention” or “suicide awareness” to some capacity, yet many of us are not familiar with what they entail. Why is that? Because let’s face it, suicide is a very difficult topic. Believe it or not, even mental health professionals struggle with how to talk about it. Talking about suicide can be challenging because it can make people feel uncomfortable and a bit awkward. So much so, we refrain from talking about it all together. Are you familiar with the adage, “out of sight, out of mind?” That’s exactly how we treat suicide. If it’s out of our minds, it doesn’t exist, right? Incorrect. The fact of the matter is that suicide does exist. The impact that suicide has both nationally and internationally is huge. It extends further than just suicide prevention and awareness. It also involves being conscious of the language we are using when we talk about suicide and other mental health related matters.
The BIPOC and Latinx Outreach Program at Spartanburg Area Mental Health Center believes that words matter, and it is the message we carry with us as we engage our communities. We have been very intentional about raising mental health and suicide awareness in our communities. When addressing the topic of suicide, we believe that it is essential to convey messages of hope, healing, and support. To commemorate this month, we have joined efforts with the South Carolina Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP) to assist in their mission of raising awareness through their suicide awareness campaign, “Let Your Hope Shine”. We will be going around our communities providing education on the importance of taking care of our physical and mental health and asking businesses and community members for a picture with the “Let Your Hope Shine” sign, for it to be posted in the Office of Suicide Prevention’s social media pages.
“We’re also going to ask folks for quotes on where they find hope in their community or how they let their hope shine in their community.” — says OSP’s Maranda Beaver.
Call to Action
Suicide prevention is a community effort. We can all do something to fight the stigma, educate our communities and save lives. One way to get involved and support suicide prevention efforts is by participating and/or volunteering. On October 8th, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will host one of its “Out of the Darkness” walks in Duncan Park. The “Out of the Darkness” Community Walk is a journey of remembrance, hope, and support. It unites our communities and provides an opportunity to acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental health conditions have affected our lives and the lives of those we love and care about. This is a time for us to get together as a community, raise awareness, and connect with suicide loss survivors as well. It takes all of us to raise awareness and fight the stigma.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 988 offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can offer support and help to people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. This is a great resource that can also link people living in SC to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s mobile crisis unit for 24/7 in-person mental health crisis services. Remember that there is hope and support available to you and just know that you are not alone. You matter and your story matters… ¡hoy, mañana, y siempre!
To learn more about mental health and suicide prevention and education related resources, please visit AFSP’s website at: https://afsp.org/suicide-prevention-resources/.