If you have a child in your life under the age of 9, you have probably watched to Disney’s Inside Out. This movie takes place inside the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl, and highlights the different emotions Riley experiences: Fear, Anger, Disgust, Joy, and Sadness. Throughout the movie, the other emotions try to suppress Sadness from Riley’s life, but they soon discover that sadness is a vital part of Riley’s story.
We all know that sadness, hurt, and pain are part of the human experience. These things are inevitable, so the question becomes how do we deal with it?
September marks Suicide Awareness Month. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, there are twice as many suicides in the United States (47,173) as there were homicides (19,510). In addition, 9.8 million individuals have serious thoughts about it, 2.8 million have made a plan, and 1.3 million have attempted. The data doesn’t lie that this is growing problem in our society.
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. Thankfully, most of our guests want help, want to get better and are not at risk for suicide. However, that is not the case for everyone. Jacklyn came to the Mission after escaping a toxic, abusive relationship. She was broken, hurt, and didn’t see a way out of the pain. Shortly after she arrived at the Mission, Jacklyn attempted suicide. Thankfully, she survived her attempt. Upon returning to the Mission, Jacklyn had a long conversation with Donna Otwell, Director of Women and Children’s Program at the Mission. She reminded Jacklyn that she had to talk about her feelings, bring out the pain, cope with it, and let Jesus heal her hurt.
Jacklyn took Donna’s advice to heart and slowly but surely, she started opening her heart to Jesus and let him take away year’s of hurt and pain. Jacklyn successfully completed our New Beginnings Program and is only a couple of months shy of completing the Mission’s 1-year Ministry Internship Program. Jacklyn has become a full-time staff member at the Mission and answered the calling placed on her heart to help other women who are broken and hurting.
While Jacklyn’s story has a happy ending, not everyone’s ends that way. So, how do we as a society start to tackle the growing problem of suicides in our community. First, 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. Second, we must learn how to openly talk about the pain, hurt and brokenness that affects our lives. The core curriculum in our Life Recovery Program is called the Genesis Process. This curriculum breaks down a person’s life’s traumas and gives them the tools to cope with current and future troubles. Finally, support organizations like the Mission that are working to help people break free of the hurt and pain that is holding them captive.
Suicide depends on people feeling hopeless, alone and broken. If we as a community can take away the stigma that comes with mental health and give people the hope and community they need to overcome their pain, maybe just maybe, we can turn the tide.