It's Just the Tip of the Iceberg
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. After losing my oldest son, Tommy, to suicide 8 years ago this is a topic that will be close to my heart for the rest of my life.
Much progress has been made through the efforts of suicide prevention and awareness programs and I know this has saved lives, but we still have a long voyage ahead of us. There is still a stigma with mental health issues today and we have much work to do on our mental health care system.
I believe the need for care is even greater than we know. Because of the stigma, there are large numbers of people who hide their need for help and wear a mask to keep it hidden beneath the surface.
I believe our world is a lot like the Titanic's maiden voyage. We are sailing through life, proud of all that we have accomplished as humans, totally unaware of the massive iceberg that is largely hidden, just beneath the surface.
The iceberg that ripped open the hull of the Titanic caused it to sink faster than anyone could have imagined. Experts believe there were probably a series of factors that actually led to its quick demise and what they thought was unsinkable turned into the unthinkable.
They had been so taken with their own greatness and what they had built, they never took the threat of sinking seriously and were not prepared. They were not prepared for the possibility that a life-threatening crisis could actually occur, let alone sink the unsinkable ship.
They did not see the iceberg soon enough to make corrections because the danger that was lurking just beneath the surface was much larger than it appeared above the water. There were too few lifeboats to accommodate all the people. To make matters worse, many of the lifeboats that were on board didn't function properly in the midst of the crisis. The result was an epic disaster with great loss of life. A tragedy that will never be forgotten, but one that could have turned out much differently in hindsight.
Let us all recognize the great need of people everywhere whose pain and struggles are real. The need is great, and it is lying right beneath the surface. Let's get better at recognizing those around us who are hurting and show them compassion instead of judgment and ridicule.
Taking the time to listen to someone who is hurting is like helping them get to a lifeboat on a sinking ship. Sometimes that's all that's needed to avoid a crisis. But we must also increase the number of lifeboats and make sure they are functioning properly. We need more counselors and we need a mental health care system that is in proper working order to meet the needs and get everyone safely off the ship before it sinks.
My friend, if you are struggling, please tell someone today. It is OK not to be OK, but it is not OK to stay there. Remember you are not alone.
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