Stop the judgements and start listening

Victoria Andersen is a mother, graphic designer, law nerd, fundraiser, pianist, advocate, writer, watchdog, a rebel WITH a cause, and a bleeding heart. She can be reached via email at victoria@equaljusticegeorgia.org.

Have you ever said to someone who can’t seem to get it together, who can’t seem to be able to do the simple and basic things you can do without a thought, that they should:
“Snap out of it”?
“Get over it”?
“Stop being a victim”?
“Move on”?

This needs to end. And it needs to end right now.

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. On this day, and every day moving forward, I implore you to wholeheartedly live out the old “walk a mile in my shoes before you judge” adage with each person you encounter, whether it’s on social media or in person.

Stop the judgements, and start listening.

Learn. Do some research. Talk to experts. Try to understand. Stop projecting what you’re capable of doing onto someone who is not you. For some, there are not two sides to something, there are eight. They are in pain.

I’ve made statements of political hilarity regarding our national shortage of common sense and listening skills. I’ve promised to do everything within my power to hold elected officials accountable to the law. I’ve publicly made a commitment to everyone to report nothing but the facts, and without distorting truth, about the notorious Marilyn Watts story. And rest assured, if the truth is on your side, you have nothing to worry about.

But as I sit here surrounded by hundreds of pages of case documents and initial interview notes knowing I have many more to meet with, the one thing that is sticking out like a sore thumb right now, more than any violation of Georgia Election Code or the tiring reruns of the Left vs. Right banters, is our severe shortage of empathy, forgiveness, and humility within our own community and within our very own political parties.

People are hurting. People are scared. People don’t know what to do.

Self-interests and political agendas are superseding human kindness. Gossip, power-plays, vengeance, self-righteousness, and intimidation tactics are creating division within our own local Boards, and, for some, the division is insidiously creeping into their own homes. This I do not take lightly.

Social media has set a safe stage for the timid experimenting with their own voice, the two-faced vipers that charm you into drinking their seemingly sweet tea, and last, but not least, the ones who are making their final attempts to find a reason to stay alive.

As you sit behind your smartphone or computer, think before you type. Think about how your words could possibly affect the person you’re directing them towards. Think about if your words will help or unnecessarily harm someone who may already be hurting.

It was only a few words of empathy and compassion from a Facebook friend, someone of which I had never met in person, who saved two lives. My son’s, and mine.

Literally. I wanted to abort my child, and I wanted to die. The pain had become unbearable.

The lack of awareness about the effects of trauma, mental health and illness, PTSD, suicide risk factors and warning signs, and why substance abuse is not just about criminals, is still utterly horrifying. Shocking, really. The judgments are cruel. We are in need of more emotionally intelligent elected officials who truly understand that we can make more of a difference by saving a life next door than from worrying about a simple line item on the budget.

For those that love power, I have good news. You have the power to use your words and prevent someone from taking their own life. I’m not saying you are responsible for how someone reacts, but I AM saying that you are responsible for what you choose to say and how you choose to act towards others.

Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can kill. Remember that.

So please, get educated, don’t judge, and love one another. Save a life.

 

 


 

 

Via National Suicide Prevention Lifeline • 1-800-273-8255
We Can All Prevent Suicide. Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention, help others in crisis, and change the conversation around suicide.

 

Know the risk factors
Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they’re important to be aware of.

• Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
• Alcohol and other substance use disorders
• Hopelessness
• Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
• History of trauma or abuse
• Major physical illnesses
• Previous suicide attempt(s)
• Family history of suicide
• Job or financial loss
• Loss of relationship(s)
• Easy access to lethal means
• Local clusters of suicide
• Lack of social support and sense of isolation
• Stigma associated with asking for help
• Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
• Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
• Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

 

Know the warning signs

Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline.

• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or isolating themselves
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Extreme mood swings


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