P4A 2014: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

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MUSIC: My theme song is Pluto Vs. Neptune by Driftless Pony Club. You can buy their albums from DFTBA Records.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Hello, Earthlings, you’re watching Adam the Alien. Today is December 12th, 2014.

It’s the 8th Project for Awesome, the annual event in which YouTubers discuss, promote, and raise money for charitable organizations worldwide. And as with most years, I’m going to talk to you about suicide and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

[THEME SONG]

This is a particularly important year to be discussing suicide and the prevention of suicide. The death of Robin Williams earlier this year rocked the world, and many of us are still trying to come to terms with the loss of a beloved actor and comedian who brought so much joy into our lives. More to the point, we’re not only trying to come to terms with the fact that he’s gone, but the fact that he committed suicide.

The high-profile suicides of celebrities have a tendency to increase overall suicide rates in a kind of suicide domino effect all too often seen in the loved ones of someone who takes their own life. It’s difficult, especially for those already struggling with depression and suicidal ideation, to see that and not think, “Well, if they couldn’t handle it, how can I?”

Unfortunately, there is also a stigma surrounding the discussion of suicide, making it difficult for those in need to reach out for help. Some people glamorize it, or gloss over it. The “Genie, you’re free” meme that spread across the Internet following Robin Williams’s suicide had an incredibly negative impact on those of us who struggle with this disease.

Worse, many people treat suicide as a joke. You need look no further than YouTube comment threads to see really disgusting examples of that. So we feel alone, isolated, and have no way of knowing how many people are feeling the same things, how many people right next to us are blindly reaching out, hoping for a hand to hold, for someone to help.

For those who don’t already know, I am a suicide survivor. After struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts for many years, I planned to kill myself on June 4th, 2003.

I was 18. On Tuesday, I’ll be 30.

The years since I planned to kill myself have been the best years of my life. I’ve lived more in almost any day of those years than I did in any of the 18 years prior. I’ve met amazing people, done wonderful things, and had experiences that I never could have even imagined at the time.

I still struggle with depression, and I still have to fight off suicidal urges.

Sometimes, it’s hard. Sometimes it’s worse than it was when I was 18. Sometimes those urges are stronger than they ever were back then. But I know, even when I can’t see it, even when I’m lost in darkness, I know that it’s worth the fight. And I know that I can’t do it on my own. I have to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Everyone needs help, at least sometimes.

I’ve been on the other side of it as well. I’ve experienced the loss of someone I cared about to suicide. I’ve felt the deep pain of someone choosing to end their own life rather than ask for help, even after we’d talked about our mutual struggles.

It left me sad, and angry, and it left a hole in me that I’m not sure will ever fill. And, like the death of Robin Williams, it left me with that deep, dark feeling, that part of me that says, “Give up. They couldn’t do it, and they were stronger than you. Why bother trying?”

It’s important to try. It’s important because there’s so much possibility out there, and more people who care about you than you can ever see when you’re in that state of mind. And far more hope than you’re capable of seeing while you’re in that kind of pain.

It’s also important to know that someone else committing suicide, be they family, friend, or beloved celebrity, is neither a reflection on their character nor yours.

They made a mistake while struggling with unbearable pain. Their mistake has nothing to do with you. It is not your fault, and it has no bearing on your ability to continue living, even thriving.

Suicide is a disease. And it’s something that can affect anyone, no matter what age, race, gender, sexual orientation, income or geographic location. Some groups do have higher statistical suicide or suicide attempt rates, and this is caused by factors ranging from bullying to mental illness and everything in between. But it can affect anyone.

And it’s important to know that having suicidal thoughts is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s even more important to know that it’s okay to ask for help. You should ask for help. And there are so many people and organizations willing to help.

Amid the variety of organizations out there devoted to helping, I’m choosing to promote the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The foundation works to prevent suicide by funding scientific research, educating professionals and the public about suicide, promoting relevant policies and legislation, and (probably most importantly) providing programs and resources for those impacted by suicide.

Charity Navigator, a website that analyzes and rates charitable organizations, has rated the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at four out of four stars, with an overall rating of 91.69 out of 100. That overall rating results from a high financial rating of 88.25, and a perfect rating in accountability and transparency.

There are a number of other charities, hotlines, organizations and such things that work diligently to prevent suicide and do an amazing job at it. I’ll link as many as I know in the video description below. If I missed one, please let me know and I will add it.

And if you need help, please, please, please ask for help. I know it’s hard, I know. But it’s important. You are important. And so many people want to help.

Until next time, I’m Adam the Alien. Fare thee well.

Exit screen! All right, I have made videos about suicide and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention before. Please just…there, they’re around my face. You can click and link. Unless you’re viewing this on something that doesn’t let you do that, in which case…I dunno what to tell ya.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Project for Awesome, and I hope that everyone who needs help asks for it.

[SOUND OF TAPE LOUDLY PEELING OFF THE WALL]

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