Avicii, the well-known and talented Swedish DJ and producer, was recently honored at the Billboard Music Awards. The Chainsmokers and Halsey took a moment before presenting the award for Top Hot 100 Song of 2018 to say a few words about this beloved man’s influence on music. Avicii died just one month prior on April 20th. He was only 28 years old. His family later revealed that he had taken his own life. Halsey shared, “Everyone who worked with him would say that he was such a joy and that makes this tragedy all the more painful. It’s a reminder to all of us to be there and support and love our friends and family members who may be struggling with mental illness.”Suicide is a difficult topic for anyone involved, but it is one that needs to be addressed as it is a prevalent tragedy in today’s world. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 34 in the US. (1)
Finding The Courage To Address Suicide
I have worked with many patients who had suicidal tendencies, as well as with their family and friends. One thing that I commonly hear from family members and friends is that they either never saw the signs at all, or they noticed something was wrong but didn’t know how to address it.Everyone deals with mental illness differently, so spotting the signs of it can be difficult. For example, if someone you loved walked into the room screaming and bent over in pain, you would immediately know that something is wrong and run to their aid to find a way to help. But those suffering from mental illness will often show much more subtle signs. They may seem detached, withdrawn, or dissociated from reality. Because these signs are so quiet or subtle, they are often easily overlooked. The best way you can help a friend or family member who is suffering, is to realize that this is the sign you are looking for. It’s important to be on high alert, and to act as swiftly as possible if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Often, you will find that your instincts are correct, so it’s best to not ignore them or push them aside. Even if they were simply having a bad day, it’s an opportunity for you to show that you really care for them, and are open to talk if they ever need a listening ear.
Suicide’s Cry For Life
Suicide is so often seen as a rejection of life, a refusal to live on. But more often suicide is actually a cry for life, and a seemingly hopeless wish that life were more than pain or despair. Those with suicidal tendencies often feel that they are going through the motions, and not truly living; even if they seem extremely successful and happy to others. Opening the conversation about suicide can potentially make connections that saves lives. Without these moments of care, trust and honest conversation, there is only silence, loneliness, and questions begging to be answered.
What You can Do
Those suffering with mental illness and suicidal tendencies need more than just the blank statements of “Cheer up!” “Things will get better,” and “Try to look at the bright side!” They need to feel strong, honest connections with those around them; supportive relationships that hold up when there’s no one else to lean on. Wholesome environments where they can be vulnerable and still feel safe. Make the decision to speak more openly and honestly, to watch for the signs of mental illness and suicide, and answer to the cry for life.