In Week 3 of our suicide prevention campaign, Let’s Talk, we are continuing to talk about suicide from a parent’s perspective.
The pain of losing your child never goes away, just like the love for your child. It’s that love that inspires most suicide survivors to continue the conversation.
“I knew that I had a really good relationship with my son. He was kind of my buddy!” said Leanna Leyes, a suicide survivor.
“I’ve spent more time in bleachers than I have on my couch,” said Kristi Winebarger, also a suicide survivor.
The Leyes and the Winebargers have a few things in common. All are loving parents, dealing with the loss of a child by suicide.
“You figure out pretty quickly that (while) people would love it if you move on as a parent, you really can’t,” Leyes said recently.
A child’s death can stick with you forever. But through the stages of grief, it’s important to continue the conversation.
“Good parents or not, good home environment or not, it happens. We have to talk about that. We have to let our kids know that it does happen, and if it does, reach out, because there’s help,” Jason Winebarger said.
Suicide can effect anyone, at any time, of any age.
“I think that’s the awareness that we want to get out there," he said. The conversation needs to happen, at a lot younger age than you might expect.”
This sentiment is echoed by many professionals in the field, including Cheryl Emerson, who says she has a passion for suicide prevention.
“Suicide is a considered the most preventable form of death,” Emerson said.
That prevention is done by familiarizing yourself with the subject.
“It’s a conversation that you need to have, just like a conversation about strangers, drugs, sex. Suicide needs to be in that conversation,” Jason said.
If you worry someone might be having suicidal thoughts, you could save a life by simply speaking up, reaching out, and saying, "‘Let’s talk!’"
“What we know is that if we talked to people about suicide that it can actually lower their anxiety about following through with that particular behavior,” Emerson said.
The signs might not be too obvious, meaning you shouldn’t wait until suicidal behaviors present themselves.
Leyes said, “Learning is really really important but you can’t teach a child if they are gone.”
Problems are solved through education, awareness and getting people to become proactive, instead of reactive.
Get comfortable talking about suicide now and keep the conversation going.