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Trees lose a lot of water – so much water that when winter arrives, the trees are no longer able to get enough water to replace it. And so now we know. Leaves fall—or are pushed—off trees, so that the tree can survive the winter and grow new leaves in the spring. Funny how we as fragile beings within our own lives go through the same thing, surviving winter for new growth. 

I have had a lot of leaves fall in my life recently and with it a lot of pain I never thought I would experience. I spent months not understanding the why or God’s purpose in it all. Then one morning the tears started to dry up, the pain stung a little less and life started over, with new leaves growing every day and dead ones falling away.

I watched the documentary The Bridge tonight, which sent my mind racing and here we are. Eric Steele’s haunting film recorded over two dozen deaths in one year at the Golden Gate Bridge. Cars drove by never stopping. What pulled at my gut was the film in a sense exploiting these deaths. The crew’s basic job description was to wait for people to die…they needed people to die for their film. If there’s no good footage of people jumping, there’s no film.  I’m still torn if it was a good call to record the actual deaths. Could you drive home the same points with just the interviews of the deceased family members…I don’t know. The movie itself is powerful with a lot of poignant moments that stop you dead in your tracks and you feel as though you’re sinking into your seat. The Bridge was made in 2006 and I had to wonder with suicide becoming an epidemic…how many more people have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge since, and how we as a society can be better at prevention. Are we all responsible when one of us slips off the edge?  

With so many people committing and attempting suicide in recent years, I want to address it. Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Yes, you read that right…”starting at age 10!” Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise. We have a problem and it’s a big one that I fear will only get worse. 

Suicide can come in the coldest of winters. I often hear people say how selfish it is, if you even think about it or attempt it…you are weak. This needs to change! We all have had moments in life where it feels easier not to wake up the next morning. Let’s be real, we all play a role in the death of loved one who chooses this path or attempts this path. 

It is our life’s ultimate journey to lift and serve each other. If only that person could get through the days, hours or seconds of choosing to end their life, they wouldn’t! And I truly believe that. We need to have compassion and understanding for each other instead of judgment, especially those broken on the brink of darkness. 

If only there was an app to show the people we love our heart and our true intentions, we wouldn’t have so much hurt, resentment and misunderstandings. But unfortunately we can’t control what others think of us and at times this can be totally unnerving. I personally have experienced this with someone I always thought would be there and know my heart because they always have. No matter what antics I pulled this person was steadfast, a rock, never wavering. This person has known and loved me since I was a child, and still I could not change what they thought. I let this shake me to my core, the earth moved from underneath my feet. That is so unhealthy, you are the only one who can keep YOU planted and watered.

People have their own insecurities and misconceptions and often times project them on those closest to them and sometimes people just outright get it wrong. You can’t control anything except your own path. Nothing is worth cutting that PATH short. I’m finding the older I get the less I know and it’s so freeing. All you can do is keep moving and growing new leafs, because when it feels like it is all FALLING apart, it’s never as bad as it seems. The world will keep spinning. That hole in your heart will heal and YOU will become stronger. 

I am lucky to have survived that dark cold winter that chills your bones without stepping off that proverbial edge, some are not. That certainly does not make them weak or selfish. Their pain was just too overwhelming to bare and death became the solution. Can you imagine if their loved one, friend or even a stranger driving by had offered them a hand and pulled them back into an embrace, maybe they would still be here. 

My whole life I have taken on the problems of others and it often “leaves” me frustrated, drained or hurt, but my empathy and “let me fix it” personality is mine and I own it. I’m never going to change that, but instead of looking at it as a hinderance… I am choosing to use it to commit my life to loving and lifting anyone I can. I challenge anyone who reads this to do the same. We all need a hug every once in a while and we need each other.

Visit Here for warning signs, help and how you can become a part of the solution. 

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