“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
These words, once written by Ian McLaren, are ringing even louder now with the recent news of tragic loss through suicide in our country. As we mourn the loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, we cannot help but feel inspired to discuss the overwhelming existence of mental illness and suicide in America.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and 44,965 Americans die by suicide each year. Why is this our societies’ saddening reality? At Nifty Package Co., we are made up of women from all ages, stages and walks of life. And this statistic is more than just a number to us, as one of our own Nifty Package Co. employees, my sister, has lost a son to suicide.
Many years ago, I was out celebrating my birthday with my husband when I received a call saying that my nephew took his life at age 18 by hanging. I just remember screaming out loud thinking of my sister and her child. My nephew must have felt such immense pain, fear and depression to go to such an extreme. I couldn't even imagine how my sister and her other four sons felt during this tremendous loss. She talks about her initial feelings about her son's suicide here.
When you lose a loved one, you also lose the hope for their future: the possibility of marriage, grandchildren, and a truly involved life. But that life was snuffed out too quickly, lost in a single moment in time. This moment will forever stand still in the lives of those affected. My sister, Kristina, has to battle through her personal feelings every time she hears of such loss and the way in which that person took their life. The real fact is there is a problem across all age groups in this county. And what can we do to help?
It may sound cliche, but one thing we strive to do here at Nifty Package Co. in order to help is to simply be kind, whether it is through the giving of our “nifty” gifts or even through a small, yet intentional, conversation with someone that we may not typically interact with. Finding ways to brighten others’ days is something that we strive to do daily. Going out of our way to give someone a well thought out, unique gift just for them is one of those ways that we hope to bring a smile to their face and make them feel special and loved.
As citizens of the U.S., in the heart of this saddening epidemic, it is also important that we all use our voices to start the conversation and stop the stigma of mental illness. Hopefully, then, we can encourage more people to seek professional help. One proactive and very tangible way to do this is to go to www.curestigma.org, take the #CureStigma test, and post your results to Facebook or twitter.
Finally, we need to be available to help those who are crying out. If you feel something isn't right, then go and check in on them. It might be the one thing they need. Help those who seem very quiet, help those who try to reach out, and be patient and considerate towards those who battle feelings of depression and loneliness.
There are several ways to show others you care, but here at NPC, gift-giving is our special way, and here are some small gifts that we believe are the perfect way to express your love and care for someone and to make them feel truly special and loved.
-Co-written by Michelle Hensley, Melanie Mitchell and Kristina DiAngelo
If you or someone you know may be suicidal call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255.