It's National Suicide Prevention Week. It started yesterday, Sunday, September 4th. Someone committed suicide early yesterday morning. Known to many in the marketing & social media fields, Trey Pennington took his own life, leaving many to question why, and leaving people he "knew" online and in real life in complete shock over news of his death.
I never met Trey Pennington. Having been a social media consultant, I only know of him and his work in the field. I don't know what drove him to take his own life, I don't know what he suffered from internally....I don't know his story. But I wish I did. I wish I did know his story, I wish he could have shared his story with someone & got the help he needed before he left this life. Perhaps if he had shared some of his story and it included struggling with a mental illness or mood disorder, I could have shared mine somehow with him, through a comment or message, to let him know that he's not alone, and he doesn't have to suffer alone. I would have told him about Band Back Together, a place where you can safely tell your story without worrying about fear or judgement from others.....
I never knew Trey Pennington personally. But I did know people who did take their lives, both friends & family members. I've considered taking my own life as a teen and even in my adult years...
I'm saying all of that and I'm sharing the fact that I myself have considered ending my life at certain times because that's part of my story, part of my life experience. I posted this on Facebook the other night and I believe it with everything in me:
It's not enough to just own your story-you've got to TELL it. In fact, part of owning your story IS telling it. That's where the power lies in transparency-in the telling and sharing of your experiences. That's what helps people, that's what robs shame of it's power, that's what gives issues a face and a voice instead of a shadowy stigma.....Whatever your stories are people, tell them. I believe for every story/experience that needs to be told, there is someone who needs and wants to hear it. Let's start sharing the things that really matter...
When we go through things in life, whether they be trivial or traumatic, it's imperative that we do what's necessary to first deal with the effects it has on us, heal from whatever it is, then accept it. And I think that's what a good amount of people do. But that's ALL they do. They stop at the healing and acceptance part. To many of us don't go on to share our story with someone else. Oh don't get me wrong, we give advice, we give people our opinions & suggestions on something going on in their lives, but we don't dig deeper in the well of empathy & reveal enough of ourselves, so that the person we're talking to feels like they aren't alone in what they're facing. Does that make sense?
Or if we do share, we are selective who we share our stories with. I know we have to protect ourselves to a degree, and maybe I sound idealistic & young here, but where's the compassion for people? What happened to reaching out? Maybe if we created & fostered safe, compassionate, healing, & empathetic environments for our children, our family members, our friends, the guy who sits next to me in church, the woman in the cubicle next to me, etc, maybe we wouldn't have to have an entire week dedicated to raising awareness about suicide. Maybe if we shed ourselves of our own tangles & shame surrounding our stories, it would empower & embolden us to speak up, reach out, not be so afraid to be vulnerable.....maybe, just maybe, suicide won't be an option for people.
Think about the story of your life so far. Have you accepted it? Have you only owned certain parts of it? Are there parts of it that you still need to heal from? How much of it have you TOLD? Who do you know that could benefit from a few pages or even a few chapters of your life story?
I challenge you, I'm even challenging myself moving forward to have the courage, have the boldness, to accept your story. Own your story. And then in some form or fashion, whatever is in your capacity to do so, TELL YOUR STORY. You never know who's life you could save by doing so.
You can read more about National Suicide Prevention Week over on my friend Cristi Comes' blog http://www.ellieadorn.com/ -there are hundreds of sites, but I find hers to have a wealth of knowledge & information from stories to resources in this area. You can also visit this site as well for even more information & links to resources: http://www.suicidology.org