As some of you might know, the 8th to the 14th of September is National Suicide Prevention Week. Besides being a mouthful to properly say, it is seven days that hold a good amount of significance.
Sometimes, things we want to rally around (causes, common beliefs) get these sort of time sensitive marketing moments. A big event is happening to raise money for a charity or a certain month is dedicated towards raising awareness around a prominent issue.
But sometimes, a lot can gets lost in the labels and the marketing jargon being thrown around. There is so much stylized font and slick Facebook updates that we lose the substance. We get so caught up in the excitement that we lose sight of the stories that truly give an issue or a cause its significance.
The way I like to look at the 8th to the 14th is not as a moment of marketing. But rather, as an invitation to be honest. To be talk about these topics which we normally tend not to. To get open and get honest with a friend or a family member.
It's an invitation to look inside of yourself and ask the very difficult question "Am I okay?"
I know for a long time I did not like that question.
It felt loaded and scary. I realize now that it wasn't so much the question that's loaded or scary; it's the answer -- the truthful answer -- that feels loaded and scary.
We all can be great actors when we want to be.
"How are you doing?"
"How are things?"
"Things are good."
These are the sometimes knee jerk responses we feed out in to the world every day. And that's okay sometimes. It's a comfortable way to live life.
But over the next seven days, I invite you -- I challenge you -- to live uncomfortably.
To answer these questions that are tough to ask and to do it from place of honesty. If someone asks you how you're doing, tell them. Don't hide.
Don't live in the muddy waters of "I'm doing okay." It's one of the most dangerous places I think we can ever be.
Sadly, the next seven days serve as a remembrance and a reminder of the lives we have tragically lost to suicide.
But, perhaps, it can also reminder that it doesn't have to be that way. That we don't have to keep perpetuating this problem and staying trapped in silence and shame. That as a culture and community, we can choose to change it.
And maybe it all starts with something as simple as being honest. Maybe that's enough. Maybe it's more than enough.
So this week, don't cheat yourself. Don't act. Don't opt out of being honest for being comfortable. Get open. Look inside. Reflect.
Truly, that's the only way we can make these next seven days mean something.
True change will never come through clever marketing, social media strategies or hashtags; but rather through our humanity. Through our ability to hold on to hope and cultivate community. Through love. Through accountability. Through being honest.
So this week, don't worry about whether National Suicide Prevention Week gets trending on Twitter. It isn't important. Focus instead on how you can live the next seven days with intent, purpose, clarity and honesty.
Because truly, I believe it's the only thing we can do to turn this whole thing around.
This blog post was originally published here.