A Friend in YOU

Make a Difference TODAY

A friend recently shared a story of a gesture she will never forget.  It took place a few years back while she was standing in line at a grocery store – on a tough day that found her feeling overwhelmed and especially blue.  Out of that blue, she looked up and noticed a woman, a stranger, holding a beautiful plant.  She turned to my friend, handed her the plant, saying, “I bought this for someone, and I think it was you.”  That simple act of compassion – of recognizing that we ALL have something with which we are dealing, proved to be a game changer for my friend.  In an instant, her spirits were elevated.  Someone noticed her, saw her pain and offered a simple human touch.

Can you imagine a world where everyone modeled the kindness of this stranger?  Where everyone looked up from their multi-tasking, and their self study to lift the spirits of another?  How about just for a day?  WE can, and we invite you to join us on Monday, September 10 as we recognize World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).  Organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), the purpose of World Suicide Prevention Day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented.  In that spirit we’re launching the Make a Difference TODAY Challenge calling on everyone in our Family Services of the Merrimack Valley Community and beyond to commit to one small act of humanity that might benefit someone outside of your social circles – be it the mail carrier, the clerk at the grocery store, an elderly neighbor, or a co-worker in a department you rarely frequent.  You never know the ripple that action may have.

Suicide and non-fatal suicidal behavior are major public health problems across the world. Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.  But, our friends at IASP remind us that suicide is preventable. A simple gesture of kindness or extension of attention can often go a long way in easing the despair of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other,” queried the author George Eliot long ago.  It’s a timeless inquiry well worth worth revisiting throughout September (National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month).  On September 10, together let’s make a wave by looking up from our phones and smiling at someone passing by along the street, buying a coffee for a co-worker, writing a letter or card to a friend you’ve lost touch with or buying a plant for that stranger in the grocery store. Can we for one day make life less difficult for another?  Get creative.  Taking our challenge will likely lift your spirits as much as it will the benefactor.  We would love to share your experiences as you take our Make a Difference TODAY Challenge.  So, please visit our Facebook page on September 10th and throughout the month and let us know the story behind your gesture.  We want to know what, who, where, and most importantly…  how it was received.

Family Services’ Samaritans of Merrimack Valley strives to reduce the incidence of suicide in the Merrimack Valley and throughout Massachusetts by providing “befriending” to individuals who are lonely, depressed and contemplating suicide or self-injury. Suicide prevention is one of the primary goals of the Samaritans, although services also include postvention services, trainings and seminars, and support groups.  Family Services’ Samaritans provides a free and confidential crisis help line to those who are lonely, despairing, suicidal or need someone to listen. This service is provided by trained volunteers who provide unconditional and non-judgmental “TLC” – talking, listening and caring. This service is available (daily) from 8 AM to 11 PM by calling our Crisis Help Line at 866-912-HOPE (4673), or 978-327-6607.

If you or someone you know is in imminent risk of suicide, call 911 or an ambulance to take them to an emergency room.

Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.  The National Alliance of Mental Illness offers a wealth of information regarding treatment services to those affected by suicide, and to connect individuals with suicidal ideation.  Please visit their website at www.NAMI.org.  “Suicide does not discriminate,” notes Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley Director Debbie Helms.  “You never know what someone is going through.  One small gesture of kindness can change that person’s outlook on life.”  Let us join together and use National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic, to reach out to those affected by suicide and to connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services.  Now is THE moment to take the Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley Make a Difference TODAY Challenge.  And, please join us on October 20 for our second annual Walk for Hope.  Register here…


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