A Millennial Shares His Thoughts on Suicide. This is a Must-Read!

Mental Health

By Kyle Stephenson, A Millennial

Suicide has been in the news lately. We have lost two famous people to suicide this week- Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Earlier in the year, we also lost Avicii. And there are many others who were not famous who also committed suicide.

And yes, suicide is on the rise.

I heard on the news that suicide is up 25% across the nation since 1999. Clearly, this is a serious problem. The question that comes to my mind is: how can we support others who might want to consider suicide as an option when they are unhappy or going through a tough time?  

I am not a doctor or mental health professional. But suicide used to be on my mind. I can tell you from experience that many people who think about suicide may not have financial problems or ongoing or diagnosed mental health issues. Things like relationship problems, substance abuse issues or spending time by yourself because you are embarrassed about how you look are all things that may cause us to want to commit suicide. In my opinion, suicidal thoughts are the result of unhappiness. If you are unhappy about something, you may have thoughts of suicide.  

Some of the things that make us unhappy?

  • Feeling like we don’t have anything to look forward to or that we enjoy doing.

This may be why some successful and wealthy people commit suicide. Being successful in school or our profession does not mean we are happy doing it. I spoke about this before in my earlier article. So we need to find healthy activities we like to do and do those things regularly.

For me, these things include traveling to new places, family time, quality time with real friends, fun physical activities, like camping, and just plain helping others who are struggling.  It sounds weird, but I find that these activities are much better than sitting at home, playing video games or at a bar drinking. Being happy is not getting ready for the next party. That is short term happiness, if you can even call that being happy. After heavy partying, we feel like ‘crap’ the next morning and long term it does all sorts of horrible things to our minds and bodies – sometimes even causing us to think of suicide.

  • Poor eating habits can also make us feel unhappy.  

I haven’t figured out exactly how this works yet, but I see a big difference in my thought process now that I have started to eat healthier as compared to when I was eating junk food most of the time. I wake up happier, and I am finally able to get better sleep rather than staying awake with my mind racing about how miserable I am. I feel motivated and better equipped to cope with situations that may make me depressed.  

  • Not enough physical activity.  

I noticed that the two years when I did not do much physical activity were the years when I fell prey to depression and suicidal thoughts. This may have been a coincidence, but I was able to think better when I became more physically active. Not to mention, having been an athlete in the past, not being able to run for two years was one of the hardest things for me to accept. Increasing my physical activity allowed me to be able to run and gave me a sense of accomplishment that I had never felt before.

So how can you help an unhappy person?

Many times unhappy people appear happy and will not tell you how miserable they really are.  I have heard that many comedians are unhappy. I was probably one of the funniest people when I was depressed. I mean, look what happened to Robin Williams. So you have to look for signs that may show that we are not really being up front or truthful with you about how unhappy we really are. Some signs may be drug and alcohol use, weight gain, a short temper, slacking on the job, sleeping more than the average person, personal hygiene issues – the list goes on. 

But there are usually signs. Once you see the signs, the opening conversation should not be that we need to go get help. It should also not be about what we want to do with our lives. At that point in our lives we are not thinking straight, and many times we don’t want to be alive. So talking to us about rehab or what we want to do with our lives is a non-starter.

If you do notice signs of unhappiness, then nonchalantly ask how we are doing or what we are looking forward to doing. Look for an answer that is not work or school related. Having a good job or doing well in school does not mean you are truly happy. It just means you are doing well according to societal standards. It is more important that you are happy with yourself and personal relationships, rather than your job or being in school. Remember, it is not what you do but how you feel about what you do.

Remember the quote from my last blog...  

“People assess you based on what you do as opposed to how you feel about what you do.”

Find an activity or location, like a theme park or a mini vacation, where we can have some fun, get comfortable and open-up. If we have a preference in activity, volunteer to do it with us so we can unwind and logically figure out the best course of action, like getting help, etc. At the end of the day, we only have one life. In this one life, people tend to think there are strict guidelines on how to live that life. Rather than following those guidelines, take a step back and explore what makes you and others truly happy.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Kyle Stephenson is a 25-year-old young adult who overcame addiction and obesity and has dedicated his life to helping others do the same.

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