The other day as it was inching toward September, I wanted to submit another story to the USA Today Network in Tennessee, who has published some of my work. I looked through several of my articles ranging from topics about sorrow and love to fried chicken. I couldn’t decide, so I asked my friend, Deborah, to study the five I selected and see which one she thought was best. She couldn’t make up her mind, so we sent two.
One was a story I had edited from an article I wrote over a year ago regarding depression and thoughts of suicide. It was a deeply personal story, but readers responded with nothing but kind words.
Before I hit “send” last Friday, I questioned my choice about the selection of such an intimate story. Was I prepared for this story to travel beyond Georgia and into wherever the USA Today network decides to publish the column? When I write for Georgia folks, I feel as if they are all my friends, know who I am, and they are welcome for coffee anytime. Trust me, to see a story I wrote about my Southern great-grandmother published in New York is a bit daunting. New Yorkers for coffee? Do I have that much coffee, and will they understand my accent?!
During the Labor Day weekend, I wondered what the editor would think as he sat behind his desk reading this tale of a woman’s struggle to not commit suicide in 1988 and finding a way to live with her depression. Surely if he chose to publish one of the stories, it would be the happier, upbeat story about my Tennessee ancestors.
The email came after lunch the day he received the two submissions. The story chosen was “Finding My Way to the Light after 1988.” He thanked me for sharing such a personal journey, especially since September was Suicide Awareness Month.
I had no idea or had forgotten that fact! When I thought about it, I realized sometimes we are just not in charge of what happens in our lives. Sometimes God does His own thing with our purpose. He knew September was to raise awareness of the mental diseases that prompt prematurely ending lives. He also knows our struggles and how we are meant to aid, encourage, and fight for one another.
Of course, I was meant to share my journey through the darkness and into the light. If not, then what is my mission? We don’t just live for ourselves, do we? The beauty of survival is to share it.
Let’s say you experienced a heart attack and survived. What if you then saw a friend experiencing the same symptoms, would you quickly call for help? Well, of course, you would. Your knowledge of what a heart attack feels like quickly made you realize you could keep your friend from dying by recognizing the signs. You just saved a life through your experiences with heart disease. There is no difference. Our travails can be a stepping stone to another’s survival if we only share the journey.
The truth is we all have strife, aches, pains, heartaches, and times when life is just plain tough. Nor does hiding under an umbrella of silence make our difficulties easier. Sharing with a loved one or friend is what we are built to do. To listen, to offer hope, to be aware of another’s needs and anguish can save a person’s life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, be bold enough to call for help just like you would for the heart attack victim.
In America, 123 people die every day from suicide. It is the 10th leading cause of adult deaths and the 2nd leading cause of death among teens. A quarter of a million more of our citizens survives a suicide attempt yearly.
No wonder God is working anyway He can to spread the word to LIVE until He alone decides to call us home.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255