The Harbinger Online

To Whom It May Concern

When you look at someone’s hand, you can’t see their fingerprint.

Each groove is a path, both on your finger and in your life – complex, individual, discrete. Every laugh, breath, emotion, struggle and accomplishment makes up your life – your fingerprint.

Just as you can’t see a person’s fingerprint when you look at their hand, you can’t see a person’s story when you look at them. That is why it is vital to be genuine – you never know whose day, or possibly life, you may turn around.

Every year 44,193 people die by suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. No matter the statistic, each time it occurs, communities are rocked, and survivors and loved ones are left grasping for answers that most times, we will never know. Because suicide is something we can never fully understand.

We as people have to push through the layer of hesitation and stigma to support those who are suffering and educate others who may help those who are suicidal.

For the loved ones left in the wake of a suicide, the act of taking one’s life can seem selfish. But Melissa Wiles, a school counselor at Trailridge, explains that suicidal people act out of despair. They truly believe that the world would be a better place without their lives, and clouded by those emotions, they are unable to understand the implications of their own death. Although that is difficult to comprehend, we must learn to cope.

Something easily forgotten for those mourning is that despite living in such an “instant” world, healing takes time. Hurting may never entirely go away, but learning to cope and heal is like a muscle that will only get stronger. For those who have felt the trembling effect of loss by suicide, know that there is no “right” way to heal.

Because the process is personal, there is no one solution. According to Wiles, coping mechanisms are not only personal but are ever-changing. One way will not work forever. We must exercise a multitude of methods, whether this be therapy, an art class or journaling. With that, as far as helping others, we must do what we can – be authentic.  

Start with a smile to your classmate in the hallway. Ask how your lab partner’s morning went. Laugh at your teacher’s joke. Converse with those around you. Because acknowledgement is where healing begins, for anyone either suffering from depression or coping with a loss.

When a person shows signs of depression — their mood changes, they give things away, they lack concentration, they experience significant weight loss or gain — offer a time to talk rather than the general statement of “I’m here if you need me.”

Honest smiles and sincere inquiries may not heal deep internal wounds, but they become a strong influence in the way people begin to cope with tragedies. This is how burdens are lifted, and piece by piece, we heal.

The power in kindness becomes contagious. When you feel it, you spread it. Kindness becomes part of each path, each groove, at the tips of your fingers and the basis of your life. That’s why offering a hand is so powerful — it’s offering every journey you have faced to another person who may need it. 

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