There's this place that I call 'The Black'. It's not a real place and I can't actually describe it but I know it's there. It kills hope. It kills people.
Who do you see who hasn't been around much lately? Who hasn't called in a long time? Who has been avoiding you? Who's having trouble at home? Or work? Or who seems ok but somehow you know really isn't?
Think. Hard. That one you haven't heard from may be the one in the Black. That one will not call a hotline. That one is sure it's already too late. That one may already have a plan and a goal and is waiting just long enough to convince themselves that the time is now.
Or that one has no plan at all. They're only one little nudge away from never coming back.
Or that one will come to believe that nothing else matters and no one else cares and so will go into The Black alone.
Suicide is all about being alone. So alone that you no longer fear anything except another day. So alone that hurt is all you know and you'll do anything to make it stop. Think about that. Being alone kills people.
Nothing will stop that one missing person except maybe, just maybe...you. You have a power that no stranger on the other end of a phone can ever have. The power to be a friend, an ear, a shoulder. Trust me in this.
Posting a number on your social media isn't necessarily a bad thing and maybe it'll help someone somehow but the one really looking down the barrel probably isn't reading Facebook. They don't want to see how happy everyone else there is; how wonderful their lives and kids and spouses and homes and jobs are. It's all an illusion that only makes it harder to breathe. They don't want to know.
They've heard that suicide is 'the easy way out'. They know you think it's selfish and cowardly and a sin. They know you think they don't care about anyone else. And they know you're wrong but they're so lonely and afraid that none of it matters anymore. They know that life hurts so much that they're willing to leave it.
What they really need to know is that they're not alone. They need you. Not to tell them to suck it up or look on the bright side. Or say you know how they feel because to them at that moment, no one can.
Don't tell them to do anything because where they are, they can't. Just be there and watch out for them. Hug them while they cry. Help them any way you can.
Call the number yourself if you have to because it's pretty likely...they won't. They're afraid that if they call, they'll lose their job, lose their kids, lose everything and then it loops around to, "Why the hell should I call and make the misery even worse?"
It isn't logical. It isn't fair. It's The Black and it twists everything.
It makes a holiday into a nightmare; a birthday into regrets. Anniversaries become unbearable and sadness is the new normal. Pain is all there is in the world. It's The Black and it closes around you like a shell. Nothing gets in and nothing gets out. People in that place all die alone.
So no, I suppose posting a number isn't wrong. Going on a walk to 'raise awareness' is probably ok too if you don't happen to be suicidal but believe me...people who are have already raised their awareness as high as it'll go.
I know with all my heart that anyone looking down that road is not listening or looking at anything but an end. They need a human touch and a human voice. You, not an 800 number are suicide prevention.
Look around. Look hard. Someone needs you. They always will.