As an Account Coordinator at AdEase, I spend a large amount of my time working on campaigns that focus on suicide prevention and reducing stigma associated with mental health challenges. Though I have done a fair amount of research and read up on these topics, the majority of my time has been spent coordinating actual materials- print ads, television and radio spots, billboards, bus ads, etc. The It’s Up to Us campaign is becoming more pervasive in the San Diego area and in and out of the office I see countless daily reminders that it is up to us to read up, speak up and link up regarding mental health and suicide prevention. Recently, I had the opportunity to put these messages into action.
Immediately following the Christmas holiday I boarded a plane for a community outreach trip to the United Kingdom. Upon arrival, some locals greeted me and drove me to the building where I would be staying and serving, pointing out all of the various city sites along the way. I quickly learned that this particular city had the highest suicide rate in all of Great Britain and that a large amount of city residents suffered from severe depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
In the course of my trip I was engaged in several conversations with adults, older adults, teenagers, even children who were suffering from a mental illness or were having suicidal thoughts. No amount of preparation can ever make those conversations easy, but I was grateful for the helpful and positive information I had learned from my work, and through this information I was able to make a positive impact in these individuals’ lives. Simply by taking the time to listen and asking the questions “How are you doing?” “Are you thinking about ending your life?” I was able to encourage my new friends that help is available and recovery is possible.
Taking time to learn about recovery options and reaching out to a loved one can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Visit www.Up2SD.org to read up on mental health and suicide prevention and if you or someone you know is experiencing mental health problems, or may be thinking of ending their life, speak up. It’s Up To Us to make a difference.