2020 has been a year to remember! Since March, our community has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced our communities to isolate. Businesses have had to overcome hurdle after hurdle. Unemployment rates rose to record levels. And for many, the hope of a brighter tomorrow seems to drift further and further away.
September marks Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and our community is more vulnerable to suicide this year more than ever. The 24 hour news cycle and social media has bombarded us with more information that often produces anxiety and confusion. With increased fear and isolation, those who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts may be less likely to seek help.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies ever 12 hours to suicide in the state of Louisiana. Now, there’s little data yet on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the suicide rate. But clearly the pandemic has added intense emotional and mental stress to the lives of people around the world.
Most suicides are a result of someone wanting to end their suffering and hurt. They feel hopeless. They feel lost. And they feel like life can’t get better. Many guests that come to the Mission experience much of these same feelings. David struggled with a learning disability growing up and started using drugs at 14 to be a part of the in-crowd. After 17 years in the same job, his addiction caught up to him and he was fired. More than 2 years later, he lost both of his parents and ended up living on the streets. He wanted to end his life until one day, the police answered a call about David and brought him to the Mission.
Today, David is a new man with a hope and a future. “I had all this hatred in me and I wrote it all down and prayers over it, and suddenly, all the burdens left my body. I felt peace I’d never known before,” he says. David graduated the Mission’s Ministry Intern Program and is now oversees the Mission’s TLC Program.
While David’s story has a happy ending, not everyone’s ends that way. You may be wondering how you can be a lifeline for someone in need during these unprecedented and difficult times. Here’s where to start.
First, even thought we must social distance, we must stay connected. While we may not be able to see in other in person as much as before, thanks to the power of technology we can still be connected. FaceTime. Zoom. Social Distance visit or picnic. The possibilities are endless. Make sure to continue to check in with friends, family, and neighbors and offer to help with basic needs if you have the ability. Limit your social media time and instead utilize that time to connect with your loved ones.
Second, we must be aware of the signs (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide/), take them seriously, and do not be afraid to reach out for help. If you or anyone you know is thinking of hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately at 1-800-273-8255.
Lastly, support organizations like the Mission that are working to help people like David break free of the hurt and pain that is holding them captive. Our neighbors need our services now and will continue to need them in the months to come. Follow us on social media for updates on how you can be a part of the #SBMissionLife and support our homeless neighbors.
It may seem like 2020 keeps getting worse and worse but we know that God’s promises hold true and there will be light at the end of what seems like a dark chapter. Please continue to pray for the Mission, pray for our guests, and pray for our community as we move forward. Finally, if there is anything that we can be in prayer of for you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.