Aaron here. I hate excuses. I really do. And here we are with one anyway. This past week, I received news that I had lost a close friend, one who was also a social worker. I say this because it has a lot to do with why I feel the need to post this. At first, we all assumed that we had lost this vibrant 28 year old woman to a sudden illness. Then we heard the rumors. Then we heard the truth. And then we heard that the family was refusing to admit the actual cause of death.

Depression and suicidal thoughts can hit anyone, no matter their education, their work experience, or their seemingly boundless amount of energetic optimism. The key though is talking about these feelings without shame of being judged, ostracized, or being a burden. But when you are lost in those moments, your brain becomes your worst enemy. You cannot feel anything but pain. Even the part of your brain that reminds you that you have felt joy before tells you that it will never happen again.

This past week was Suicide Prevention Week. My family and I participated in the Walk Out of Darkness event on Sunday because a dear friend lost her son to suicide two years ago. I had no idea I would also be walking for my friend who lost her battle just a few days prior.

All I ask of you all is to reach out. Talk when you are in that place that feels hopeless and endless. There are more people that love you than you could possibly ever imagine. I may not have met you, talked to you or seen you before, but I am one of those people. I will make time if I can respond. Wait until I can respond, please.

And stop hiding from the word ‘Suicide.’ The more we avoid that word, the more power it gains. The stronger its grip. IT IS NOT ABOUT A CRY FOR ATTENTION! IT IS A CRY FOR HELP! Talk frankly and openly about suicide in a respectful manner. Don’t belittle someone for having the thoughts. And don’t spend your time reminding them that they need to ignore them for the sake of everyone around them. It only reinforces the fear that they are a burden to those around them.

Hold them. Listen to them. Tell them how much they matter and that you will be there no matter what.

Thank you for reading this.