This particular topic is to raise awareness about suicide and its prevalence among youth. During this pandemic, despite of the stay-at-home order in place, suicide rates have increased. Listed below are the common myths about suicide rebutted by facts.
Myth #1 Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide
Fact: Talking about suicide reduces the stigma attached to the topic and increases the chance for the individual to receive help.
Myth #2 Suicide attempts or deaths happen without warning
Fact: Survivors of a suicide often say that the intention was hidden from them. It is more likely that the intention was just not recognized
Myth #3 Once a person has intent on suicide, there is no way of stopping them
Fact: Suicides can be prevented
Myth #4 People who threaten suicide are just seeking attention
Fact: All suicide attempts must be treated as though the person has the intent to die. The attention they get may well save their lives.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.
The words "we are living in unprecedented times" continue to haunt me during these times of uncertainty and doubt. Sifting and sorting through multiple articles. Fact checking left and right. Washing my hands thoroughly in a panic. Wondering when I will ever return to work again. Continuously consuming information, whether it'd be from health or history professionals. I do all of this just to find concrete answers in order for things to go back to normal. So yes, it is safe to say that I am exhausted. I can never seem to stop this adrenaline from sorting through news articles in order to calm down. While it has been evident that COVID-19 has turned everyone's lives upside down, another element has been added in the midst of the pandemic: the fight for racism and police brutality. We are currently living in a time where we are seeing a definitive gap on where our society stands with racism and police brutality. Peaceful protests have been ongoing the entire week, -police are continuously abusing their power, curfews are established at random times, and the National Guard's helicopters would not stop circulating above my home. On top of all of this, my new neighbors seem to have a reoccurring routine of vacuuming at 2:30 in the morning.
While many of us see this definitive gap, there are those who refuse to understand the current societal shift - my family being one of them. I am the black sheep of the family during these times. To be frank, I don't remember the last time I had felt so alone for having a different opinion. My oldest sister and her husband are Trump supporters and are heavily influenced in their respective parties. I have kindly asked to not challenge my views any further, but my sister has continuously refused - claiming that she was once in my position, but challenged herself leading to where her views are today. My mom, as someone who did not study in the U.S., does not understand the severity of the reason these protests are happening. Her stance also stands firm with her previous experiences with Black people on the bus going to and from work, and denies their right to basic human rights. I can't reason with factual information and content that I have learned myself because they either 1) don't understand me or 2) use the argument that "I am too smart" or 3) use the facts I have provided against me, claiming that I am only booksmart. They are the ones who tell you to apply to college, earn a degree, then work for the rest of your life. Yet, here I am being denounced in my own home because they deny the reasoning I provide in order to give context. My sister has even told my mom behind my back that I have cognitive dissonance. It's experiences like these that make me lose hope, and take a toll on me mentally due to the validation I seek.
I firmly believe the people I surround myself with is the reason why my mental health continues to be stable. The uncomfortable conversations I share with either my significant other, close friends, or individuals I share the same values decompress and continue to give me clarity. Because of this clarity, these voices continue to motivate me to carry on with my further education on Black and Asian American history. My next step towards stability is being able to make my family's comments about my reasoning as a form of white noise in order to not be so affected emotionally and mentally. As these unprecedented times continue to haunt me day by day, I seek to see this as an opportunity - not only to prove that my further education is worth it, that there will be results in this societal change that will make them understand where I am coming from.
I’ve been feeling an overwhelming amount of emotional pain. I know a lot of people share my sentiment, no matter who they are. It’s impossible for me to not think about George Floyd 24/7 (and Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Iyanna Dior, Tony McDade, and countless others), which of course can affect one’s mental health but we can’t look away. There’s no room for that and there never was room for that. It's considered a privilege to be able to look away. Imagine actually experiencing this, you can’t look away then. I understand people handle things differently so if a social media break is needed, that should be had, but it’s important to not distance yourself from the issue once that break ends. Everyone needs and deserves a moment to recharge (as hard as it is) and then get back to work, and that goes for a lot of things.
I will say, it has been especially hard not to get frustrated when I've seen some people I know and don't know on social being silent (or are posting other self-serving content) altogether and then notice that one day they begin to post about this, because then it feels performative. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that hurts. Another black person has become a hashtag at the hands of police officers. How could you not be outraged and wanting to say something from the get-go, even if you maybe are the most soft- spoken person on the planet or no matter how infrequent you are on social? It’s truly hard for me to understand. Even if you “don’t know what to say”, you can at least start by saying “Black Lives Matter” or “Justice for George Floyd” or just SOMETHING to acknowledge the injustice that he and so many others have faced, time and time again. This isn’t new. Black people have been dealing with injustice for over 400 years so the least we can all do as humans is show some solidarity. It’s not up to black people to advocate for things they should already have either, yet we've had to for so long. What happened on May 25 was wrong. Period. It's not hard to show public solidarity. You can and should of course continue to learn/unpack when it comes to black history. We all have different worldviews and are always learning, no matter who you are but that shouldn’t ever stop you from standing up for what is right.
I of course want everyone to care and I don’t think that’s asking for much. It shouldn’t be black people’s responsibility to have to address every injustice perpetuated against us. It’s up to our white allies and other non-black individuals to stand up as well so we don’t have to bear the brunt of the burden. I just know that I’ve been hoping/expecting people to genuinely step up, and it’s encouraging to see it happen. I have people who I never could have imagined being so vocal and really doing the work to become a full-time ally and THAT is what gives me hope that long-term change can come. Talking to my other black friends and my non-black allies has helped me through all of this too. I think they’ve really understood the power of their platforms, now more than ever, no matter what their following is. There is power in protesting. Power in speaking up. Power in petitioning/making calls/donating/expecting your officials to be held accountable. Power in educating yourself. Power in calling out racist and prejudice rhetoric/behavior within yourself and within others. Power in action. It’s even more powerful to see this amidst a global pandemic. There’s two pandemics going on. With all of that, I also appreciate (and expect) my friends stepping up and having the uncomfortable conversations with their loved ones. I hope that they continue to do that/I hope their loved ones will expand the conversation amongst their circle(s), on a regular basis.
Systemic racism is not new. It’s layered and it can feel that since this system has been put in place to intentionally oppress black people, that it will never end, but I think a lot of people from all walks of life are NOW (if they haven’t seen it before) seeing it for what it is and aren’t having it. All of the community leaders who are on the frontlines/who are doing all they can from home are truly my heroes. They shouldn’t have to do it alone though, it needs to be all hands on deck, now and forever. I can’t stress that enough.