Executive Director Reflections: September 2020

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I am happy about that because it encourages conversation about a topic that is still taboo, misunderstood, and terribly painful for anyone who has experienced suicidal ideation or a loss. These conversations are essential to building better frameworks around how to prevent suicide.

Each year during this time, it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the important collaborations in our community that make this difficult and necessary work possible. We have the good fortune to be supported in our work by many wonderful local partners that help us achieve more than we could on our own. This feels like a fitting time to recognize and thank some of them:

  • MBTA
  • Keolis Commuter Services
  • United Way
  • Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts
  • Riverside Trauma Center
  • KyleCares
  • DeeDee’s Cry
  • Arredondo Family Foundation
  • Mass Coalition for Suicide Prevention and all suicide prevention programs in MA
  • Department of Public Health
  • State legislators who work tirelessly to support access to mental health care and destigmatize suicide
  • Governor Baker
  • Mayor Marty Walsh and Chief Marty Martinez
  • D. A. Rachel Rollins
  • Members of the media who seek to understand, uncover, and support mental health issues
  • Our staff, volunteers, Board, and Council who provide perspective, creative problem-solving, passion, and dedication to our mission

In building these collaborations, we look to amplify awareness with new audiences who may need our 24/7 Helpline, suicide prevention workshops, and grief support services; improve the effectiveness of our programs so that we’re diligently serving those who need us; combine expertise for better service delivery; and elevate knowledge around suicide prevention so that it becomes a cause that everyone is fighting for. At the end of the day, we want each and every person in our community to take suicide prevention seriously.

To build that awareness, we engaged in several initiatives this month:

  • We were proud to partner with the MBTA who is running digital Helpline ads, as well as promoting our 5K, in their stations across the city all month long!
  • All over the world, people celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 by lighting a candle in a window to show support, to remember a lost loved one, and for survivors. While we couldn’t put a candle in our Crisis Center this year, we lit candles in our homes instead.
  • Government Center MBTA station was lit green in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).
  • Prudential Tower will be lit green in honor of suicide prevention (September 19).
  • On September 23, all Entercom radio stations will air I’m Listening, which aims to end the stigma of talking about mental health, from 6pm-8pm!
  • We participated in three Twitter chats to amplify conversation around prevention: #BeThe1To, #KeepGoing, and #BeThere.

All month long, we will talk with radio stations, cable TV programs, local and national news programs to broaden the conversation. We will host numerous online workshops about suicide, what the warning signs and risk factors are, and how to help someone who is struggling. On the 26th, we’ll celebrate and remember the lives lost to suicide with our Annual 5K Run/Walk for Suicide Prevention, which will be virtual for the first time.

Samaritans is always thinking about ways we can help to reduce the rate of suicide. While we are confident that our Helpline does that by providing a nonjudgmental, supportive resource to a person who is in despair, we believe all of our programs are suicide prevention efforts. So, how can you help?

Finally, there is something more we can all do. We can try to be nonjudgmental and to be compassionate with others and with ourselves too. We don’t know what another person is feeling or going through but our willingness to show that we care, to acknowledge and accept whatever they are going through, and to offer our empathy goes a long way. In our personal actions and efforts, we can all help to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and help save lives.