World Suicide Prevention Day, held every September 10, highlights the critical need to address topic of suicide prevention. This year's theme is "Creating Hope Through Action."


Former Menninger patient and current mental health advocate Debi Strong exemplifies the theme. Here, she shares her story as well as lessons learned from her treatment and during her recovery:


"As I have learned from treatment and experience after attempting suicide in 2012, no matter how intelligent you might be, the depressed brain has its own agenda, and all its thoughts are irrational. 'Everyone will be better off without me.' 'The pain will end.' 'Nothing is ever going to change … it’s always going to be this way.' These are not rational thoughts, but they were what I was thinking.  

Were they true?  Let’s see:

  • 'Everyone will be better off without me.' No, they will not. They will be forever impacted by your final act.
  • 'The pain will end.' Maybe, but there are no guarantees. After all, who has ever come back from the dead and told us this definitively? And although your pain might end, it does not disappear. As in the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it simply changes states; your pain simply spreads out to all the people who love and care about you. And they will forever wonder what they could have done to make a difference. (And I know in my case, nothing anyone could have said or done, other than getting me admitted to Menninger, would have made a difference. Really.)
  • 'Nothing is ever going to change….' Come on … can you predict with absolute certainty what will happen in the next 24 hours, let alone the next few years? I have done and experienced things, people and places I could never have imagined in the last nine years. Had I died in 2012, I would have missed out on an awful lot of joy.

So, if your thoughts are turning to suicide … STOP:

Seek help! I know it’s hard, but it’s necessary! Friends and family can’t mind read and know how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking; however, they can find resources to help you. If you have a therapist, call them! Call a hotline, call a friend, call someone you trust.

Talk! Express the severity of your thoughts and feelings honestly; ask for what you need to help you survive. This is a matter of life and death.

Open your heart and mind to others … let them in and let them help; this is the time to be vulnerable and brave.

Professional treatment is necessary when you are seriously depressed. Friends and family may love you, but they are not experts in dealing with depression! Make them call in the professionals because you are worth it!"


If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or 911.