Column: Work is needed to help others see hope
The suicide of two middle school students shook the community of Fort Collins last month and left it in a state of frustration and suffering, which is certainly understandable.
These events occurred within only a week of each other, and bullying as well as depression were part of the lives of these children of only 11 years of age.
Addressing the issue of suicide is really hard for various reasons; among others are the profound grief and sadness of people who have lost somebody to suicide, and the overwhelming statistics with few glimpses of hope.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families and communities.” The CDC also says that 800,000 people worldwide take their own lives every year.
In November, I had the great opportunity to translate a series of conferences given by Michelle Muething from the Aspen Hope Center to approximately 60 Hispanic parents.
“Yes, suicide is a reality and depression is just as real and just as debilitating as cancer, Crohn’s disease or chronic pain. However, there is always help to be found,” Muething emphasized. She talked about the importance of enforcing the education and prevention efforts. She made the audience reflect on the statistics that show that every 11 minutes a person commits suicide in this country.
At certain times of life, some people have faced the desire not to have to live. The Hope Center is dedicated to helping people for free whether they are depressed, facing emotional crisis or have suicidal thoughts.
For assistance call Aspen Hope Center, 970-925-5858; Mind Springs Health, 970-945-2583; or National Suicide Prevention LIFELINE, 1-800-273-8255, which also offers help in Spanish.
According to statistics from the CDC, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, the second among persons aged 15-34 years, the fourth among persons aged 35-44 years, the fifth among persons aged 45 -54 years, the eighth person among 55-64 years, and the 17th among persons 65 years and older.”
Parents are often distracted with work or other activities, and this is dangerous because in the case of children and young people, depression and bullying could be the prelude to suicide.
The three main warning signs are: First, behavioral changes in the person either in form of clothing or food. Second, to pay attention to the expressions used: “I cannot stand,” “I want this over with,” “It is best for my family if I’m not here.” And the third is if someone is going through stressful situations such as divorce, illness, loss of a loved one or financial problems, among others.
Pollet, a young woman from this community who attempted suicide three times said: “No one realized what was going on … until my sister heard me and said, ‘I do understand you.’” She attended therapy, took medication and pointed out that the care, love and understanding from someone who is important to her saved her life.
Annually in the territory comprising from Aspen to Glenwood, 20 people commit suicide on average each year. When Muething shared this statistic she made me reflect on how important the work is that remains to be done.
The deaths of these two children in Fort Collins turned back on the alert for all, because despite the great efforts, statistics indicate that in our confrontation with the monster of suicide, we are losing the battle.
Colorado ranks seventh nationally. Suicide cannot be ignored, we must confront it with new strategies and from many angles; I think one of them could be using the power of family integration underpinned with the best of all: Love.
In this time of gifts and good intentions we need to spend more quality time to our family and more often demonstrate our feelings until settling deep in the hearts of those we love.
I have learned that hugs are soul extensions that strengthen us to overcome the painful and bewildering aftermath of suicide.
Certainly these wounds leave scars that can be healed only with the magic of love and time. Amen (So be it).
Eloisa Duarte has been a volunteer in many community projects. She has a degree in communications and a passion for education. email@example.com.
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