What a bold statement, right? In this world, my world, of suicide prevention, people say that to me, that I save lives. They say it and they may feel it to be true. They say I save lives and mean it as an honor, as a thanks, as the pinnacle of respect for the type of work I find myself doing. But I have to disagree with that audacious statement. I have to disagree for myself, for the people I have encountered in the world, and for the simple sake that I must for my own mental wellbeing.
A few years back, I found myself asking what gives me the right to believe I have command over another persons life?
And if I can save a life, does that mean I’ve lost some, too?
To me, it must mean just that. I don’t feel I deserve to bear the glory and not the tragedies. And what weight, what pressure, what stress should I own if I counted the lives who were lost, the ones who we’re all losing, the ones we have yet to reach? Because, I have lost loved ones, even after I started doing this work, and if I own the triumphs should I also bear the losses?
What I do is I offer options. I offer a voice. I offer limited experience. I work in a field that I enjoy, that I am passionate for, one that I have worked tirelessly to understand for a multitude of reasons. I want to help. I want to see changes. I want to do something meaningful for myself, my children, and this world we all share. And honestly, this work is hard, it is draining, it is devastatingly impactful on me in so many ways, but it is also a blessing. It has saved me. It has allowed me the invaluable opportunity to meet breathtakingly powerful people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, to hear awe inspiring stories of struggle and success in my everyday, to learn about life and yes, death, and to offer something more than myself to this universe. So, truly, I may be selfish in the scope of things. Truly, I may hope and strive to find that hope met.
I don’t save lives. They save their own lives. It is up to the individuals to take what little I can offer and use it, or ignore it. I don’t force life on anyone, they choose it, for themselves. They work for themselves, for their wellbeing. They push through their own struggles to find themselves stronger on the other end. Don’t give me their success. Don’t take their hard earned work and put it on me. It’s their right to save their own lives. And it’s their right to own that accomplishment.
Those who have struggled deserve the honor of knowing what they have fought to have. They deserve that compliment. They deserve to be proud of themselves. I am proud of them, too.
I don’t save lives. It isn’t fair to the people who have saved their own lives to take their empowerment and offer it to me. I do what little I can because I can, but I must ask you now, could we all do a little more, together?