Keren Naor, Head of ELEM Israel Training Field, wrote openly about the need to break the silence around suicide. We need to open the discussion in order to help youth deal with difficult emotions and situations.
Yesterday another girl committed suicide. Her name was Viki.
I think about her in those moments of making the decision – maybe she was ambivalent, maybe she wanted to die but also looked for help, maybe she wanted to be alone but also hoped that someone would help her end the terrible loneliness.
But she couldn’t find anyone.
Over 500 people commit suicide in Israel every year and 6,000 people get to the hospital due to a suicide attempt. Imagine how many others try to commit suicide and don’t end up in the hospital and how many consider it.
But no one is talking about it, there is silence among us. And silence creates shame and shame creates guilt and guilt creates secrets and hiding, and this is a reflection of how we as a society perceive suicide. And yes, in our society suicide is considered a failure and if someone committed suicide or is thinking about it, then they failed and their close circle failed, because this is the sort of death we feel we could have prevented.
It’s time to not be ashamed when we don’t need to! And admit that maybe we are sometimes helpless facing this phenomenon – yes, as professionals too – and start encouraging speaking about suicide ideation in our circles. Among family and friends, in therapy, on social media, in the media, in the education system and more.
And what about kids and youth? Two years ago it was said that the number of suicides of children under the age of 14 worldwide had doubled! It is important that we are aware of this – to understand that this can happen to children as well. It is also extremely important to identify signs that indicate the issue, where the main one is a change in behavior.
It is important to talk openly with your children. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about depression and even suicide. The position that talking about suicide gives you ideas is wrong in my opinion, because talking allows children and teenagers to understand that it is allowed to feel hurt and it is allowed for things to be difficult and most importantly – that there is something to be done and that any distress can be treated.
You have nothing to be afraid to ask directly when the concern arises: “Are you thinking about suicide?”. Young people who think about suicide tend to be very lonely and discouraged and sometimes just wait for someone to dare to ask them about it and not be afraid to talk to them about it, which they are so afraid of.
Although there are professionals, NGOs and maybe even intervention programs, but the bottom line is that what is most needed in this matter is a society that is ready to talk about it, that is ready not to look away, that is ready to listen and look around us. Maybe there is someone out there who is experiencing a crisis and waiting for our kind eyes, our open heart, a hand that is extended to them?
Vicky is another girl who waited and couldn’t find it.
Hopefully she’ll be the last.
May she rest in peace.