I would like to prevent suicide, just like anyone.  That is anyone with a heart.  I do realize that there are those that could care less and would rather have sharp sticks put in their eyes than talk about suicide or death.  There are logical and methodical steps to putting together an awareness and prevention campaign.  Not that I am any expert, but you need a driving force (also known as a project manager), a clear mission and goal, some funding, volunteers, participants, sponsorship, lobbyist, etc… It gets quite detailed and the work behind any campaign is almost always done for little or no pay and unfortunately sometimes without thanks or appreciation.
Educating people about suicide in an attempt to prevent is kind of a scary thing.  The largest age group plagued with suicide is 15-24 years old.  So to prevent, in my opinion, you would need to start earlier than 15 yrs old and start by explaining what suicide is.  Kids need options and skills to cope.  Kids need to learn time management, stress management, and sometimes just how to be nice to each other.  These are new classes that are needed and mostly not provided in any school.
I think we are aware that suicide exists, the largest majority of the population anyway.  Most people either know of someone, or an acquaintance, or it happened to someone in their town or city, or they heard about a suicide on the news. And then of course there are suicide bombers, suicide missions, corporate suicide, personal suicide, marriage suicide, and even a suicide squeeze play in baseball.  The word suicide is used along with other words to imply that someone has destroyed themselves in one way or another.  Music groups are drawn to the word suicide, Suicide Blonde, Suicide Girls, Suicide Squad, etc…  Songs are written about eminent suicides, talking to someone after suicide, saving someone from suicide, and just plain wanting to die.  There is a stigma around suicide but there is also a fascination and idealization.
People joke about suicide.  They quickly say “I am going to kill myself” in a joking manner.  Someone is “emo” and plays a the violin on their wrists… or telling someone to jump off a bridge, or in other words, please commit suicide.
Ok, so teach kids how to deal and cope, and save lives, make sure they do NOT commit suicide.  I am all for it.  But guess what, I am all for people respecting each other also.
If you know someone is a recovering alcoholic do you ask them to your house and then proceed to get a 12 pack of beer out of your refrigerator and sit in front of them and drink the whole thing?  Do you talk about dying of old age in a disrespectful manner?  Do you joke in groups about murder, rape, sexual assault, and robbery?  Do you make fun of people who have mental illnesses?  Depression, bipolar, OCD, etc…?  How about physical handicaps or physical differences from you?  Are you racist, genderist, ageist, homophobic?
For the life of me I cannot figure out why a joke about suicide is funny.  I cannot figure out why using the word suicide as shock factor for a story or as a name for a band group is a brilliant idea. But mostly I do not understand the person that uses a tragic and traumatic event such as suicide to make their story or joke sound good…. And yes, you hear it a lot and it stands out today more than it did before I was affected by it.
So how do we become so desensitized to things so emotional and tragic?  Why do we think it is an option in our lives…and why do some find it funny?
I don’t have any answers to these questions and I will continue to just not understand, and excuse myself from situations that I am uncomfortable in.  I am tired of someone saying OH I did not know your son committed suicide, sorry.  Why would you tell the joke anyway?  Why would you think it is ok to JOKE about something so personally awful..especially not knowing if anyone in your audience has attempted, survived, etc..  Would you tell a blonde joke in front of all blondes, would you tell a racist joke in front of a mixed group, would you make fun of homosexuals and lesbians not really knowing if anyone was?  And why the hell would you have to go through that checklist for you joke material anyway.  Are you just plain ignorant to life?
People obviously just upset me sometimes with insensitivity.  Usually I do not say anything and I just walk away knowing I cannot talk to that person anymore.  I should open my mouth more, let them know, but I guess really I do not think it would make a difference in most cases.
Kids are brought up this way in some situations.  Joking and laughing at different groups of people, desensitized to murder, suicide, assault.  How does a young mind cope?  If they feel hopeless….like the problems outweigh anything good in their life, and they want to die….what do you tell a kid that is emotionally shut off or desensitized?  How do you educate or prevent anything bad from happening?  It would seem to me that all young adults, 15-24 are at risk, period. And I would think it would not stop there….I would say we are all at risk at some point in our lives, period.
So, with the entire population at risk, running amuck, joking and creating stigmas and stereotypes…..how do you teach and prevent?
Well, my answer to that is it starts with you.  I don’t want to sound trite or cliche…but it really does.  It could take 500 years for suicide to become a “thing of the past” but if that is true, this is year one and you are on the foreground, a founder, making a difference.  You know right from wrong.  You have a gut instinct, a gut feeling, a gut reaction….  You probably know when something is just “not right” with someone.  So, do something about it and don’t stop until you can make a difference or until you told to back the fuck off.
But really, start with yourself….be respectful.
My husband and I owned a coffee shop for 3 or 4 years and had a few interesting customers.  One person that I remember quite well was a man who came in and talked too much.  He would stand at the counter and try to engage Chris and I in deep conversations or have us listen to his long-winded rants.  The day I told him to NOT come back to my store is the day he told me that any person of color was considered a “throw away person” in his book.   How absolutely awful.  And today I look back on that conversation and put his thought process in line with the jokers I mention above….do they think my son was a “throw away person”?
Death is an inevitable subject in our lives.  It just comes up even though we do want it to.  If we knew more about it, understood how to deal with it in a healthy way, and were educated at a young age how to respect life and respect those left after death…..maybe it would be a less harsh world.  I don’t know.  Why aren’t we taught about death in school?  It is something that comes up a hell of a lot more often in REAL life than having to use Algebra or name some dates in the Civil War.
Either way, if you see me and have an urge to tell me a joke….I wont respond well to blonde jokes, women jokes, racial jokes, homosexual, lesbian, transgender jokes, age jokes, handicap jokes, religious jokes..actually maybe you should just not tell it to me.  Just saying.  Clean up your act and get some new material……