Last night I went to the North Country Union High School to participate in the QPR Suicide Prevention training that the school had arranged to be presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
This evening training was part of a very well thought out and planned effort by the High School, to provide training and informational presentations in the school for students on various topics related to mental health, relationships, technology safety, suicide preventions, etc. Each of these were followed by a parent/care-giver geared training on the same topic, in the evening, so families could also have access to information and tools to assist and support their kids.
I was the only person that attended. The only one.
My daughter died by suicide. I am absolutely devastated. Our family is devastated. The community and our friends are devastated. Anyone who has lost someone to suicide is devastated. I probably wouldn’t have given this type of training much thought prior to her loss because it could never happen to me, to my beautiful child, to my family.
I did take CPR classes several times throughout my life. It’s been over a decade since I have participated in training, but I have taken the classes more than once in my life and I imagine many of you have too.
Never in my life did I imagine I would have to use CPR on someone, let alone my fourteen year old daughter. And she still died.
Our country is in a mental health crisis and we all need to come together to fix this. I didn’t know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause in death for ages 10-24 in Vermont. I didn’t know that there are on average 130 deaths by suicide every day in the United States. Every day.
These are things people are just not comfortable talking about. I am not comfortable talking about it. I’m not even comfortable thinking about it. I want to push it as far from my thoughts and life as possible.
But now here I am, very uncomfortable living with my grief and loss. Every day. We need to get uncomfortable.
I much rather be uncomfortable and educate myself, prepare myself, learn about QPR and suicide prevention, and make sure someone who is struggling is seen and helped. Here I am, thinking of all the things I could have done differently, that anyone could have done differently, to help Norah get past the ideation, through her hopelessness, her struggle, to see hope and embrace help, to have access to the right resources and mental health supports needed to work through this very prevalent crisis.
It has to get better, not worse. Each of us has a responsibility to help others, to listen and learn, to be informed on the signs to watch for in our family members, our friends, our co-workers, and our loved ones. Our children.
I sincerely hope that the next training that is offered is better attended. I encourage you all to watch for and take advantage of free, local training courses and presentations that are offered in your areas. There are more opportunities than you can imagine, you just need to do a little looking. We need to support these offerings so they continue. We need to show up. Share about them. Invite a friend to join you. Pass information on to others who you know are struggling or supporting loved ones who are struggling.