Mental Health Minute – The “S” Word

By: Lisa Philippart
“I cried out as loud as I could, but no one heard me; I was too far from the people.”
From Something by Hans Christian Anderson
This is a sad story. And it needs to be told. A. Man spent many years working at a job that started out being something that he enjoyed, and even found somewhat fulfilling. As time went by though, he realized that he liked what he was doing less and less. He became short with his co-workers. His home life became unhappy. The longer he stayed in his position, the less motivated he became to try to fix anything. It was just easier to stay where he was and complain.

Eventually, A. felt himself becoming less and less connected to the world. He could not express his frustration and sadness. It seemed like no one cared anyway. He could sense what was left of his old life slipping away, being replaced with constant loneliness, isolation, and dread. Some people noticed, some didn’t. But no one took the time to check on A. He came to believe that his life no longer mattered, so he ended it.

At his workplace, the people were shocked. Some even cried. A counselor was called in to meet with A.’s colleagues to help them “process.” The counselor asked for memories and stories about A. No one could think of any. No one really knew him…or took the time to. Their tears were not tears of grief, but rather because that response was expected. Two weeks later, the workplace was back to the way it was before, as if A. had never existed.

What is happening to us? I do not want to believe that we have become so callous, uncaring, and selfish that A. Man commits SUICIDE and his co-workers (some for 20+ years) do not even know his wife’s name! When “friends” said that they had no idea that A. Man was hurting so, I want to tell them that they should have. In most cases, those considering SUICIDE put out all sorts of signs. They want you to notice. They want you to ask if they are okay or need to talk.

The “s” word is SUICIDE. There. I have written it and acknowledged it. Our culture has definitely made strides in recognizing the need for action when symptoms are presented. But treatment cannot be provided unless YOU notice. I can’t make you care, but I can suggest that you spend some time with others, even those you don’t know. Ask how someone is doing and actually listen to the answer. In my next article, I will share some concrete material about SUICIDE attention and prevention. Until then, are there people in your life who might need you to notice them today?
By: Lisa Philippart
Licensed Professional Counselor