Friday, March 11, 2016

Words Can Be So Harmful


The only thing that can be certain in this life is that many people don't watch what they say - not realizing how much harm their words can cause. Through the loss of my daughter to suicide, I have met many people in similar situations. Some have lost loved ones to suicide, some have lost loved ones to drug overdoses. The true cause is the same - mental illness. This is a disease that is taking over our world, yet many continue to try to hide it under a rock. Quite a few others, though, tend to lash out coldly to the ones that are left to try to find their new normal life without their loved ones beside them.

I am a suicide survivor. I lost Heather totally unexpectedly and that woke me up to a problem that has been in our world for a long time. When I was younger, I attempted suicide myself. When that didn't work, drugs was my escape. Luckily, I woke up but I still didn't acknowledge the problem. Today, I acknowledge it's a huge problem. One that we have to take care to be gentle on with our words. What you say "off the cuff" can be very damaging to someone being effected by this.

I have heard from parents, siblings, friends - so many people. One of the coldest things I hear are some of the comments from some that have no idea what is really going on in the world. I have heard from a mom who lost her son to suicide that was told to get over it - he is gone. I have heard from family that lost their loved ones to an overdose with people saying they deserved it - they made the choice. No they didn't make the choice and there is nothing to get over it.

Instead of telling people that they need to get over it, they made the decision, etc,, how about we reach out and start sharing that mental illness is taking our loved ones and that we need to stop burying this huge problem. 1 in 4 people are effected by mental illness and this problem is growing steadily. We need to stop ignoring this and make some changes. With 1 in 4 being effected, chances are you know someone that is dealing with mental illness.

All of us, including myself, need to be more gentle with our words. Many times, the true problems are hidden. One of the biggest problems is that their is a stigma attached to mental illness. This needs to change. Instead of encouraging people to hide their problems, we have to encourage that they share it. We have to let the world know that we will not accept more deaths and we will not contribute to it. If someone tries to take their life, don't berate that person. Love that person. If someone is having a problem with drugs, don't laugh and scorn and blame them for their problems. Acknowledge that there is a good chance they are effected by a real illness - mental illness.

Until the world wakes up, we need to be the ones to make the change. Watch your words. They could be a knife to someone's soul. Those cold words could be the ones that tip the scales in the favor of suicide or drugs. One person at a time, we can all make a difference. Be gentle with your words and try to help, not hinder. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. If you truly believe that drug overdoses and suicide are their own decisions, you are wrong. Mental illness has distorted their reality and we need to do everything we can, before we are all at another funeral, saying goodbye to another loved one that didn't have to die.