When the skies are cloudy
Willie Nelson sings a song about a land of cloudless skies. A land where troubles are none and there is not a care in the world. Here in everyday life though, there are clouds in the sky. There are horrible storms, stress, money trouble, grief, and a multitude of other factors that can torment the psych of us all. Lets face it, farming and ranching can be one of the most rewarding ways to make a living, but it can also be the most stressful. There is a silent epidemic happening right now that no one seems to be talking about or paying much attention to. That epidemic is suicide.
While it is not a fun subject to talk about, it is one that should be talked about openly in every home, coffee shop and feed store throughout the heartland. Within the last year alone there have been three people I have known that have taken their own life. All three seemed happy, were living normal lives and never let anyone know what exactly what was going on in their head. The first inclination that they were in trouble was when the call came that they were gone.
I do not claim to be a mental health expert, nor do I want to be. I believe that we have a duty to our family, our friends and our neighbors to check in on them. We need to let them know that we are there for them, nothing they are going through is worth their life, and that suicide is a long-term fix for a short-term problem. It’s hard, uncomfortable, and starting the conversation may be downright awkward, but it is a conversation that may save the life of someone that you love.
We have become a nation that believes that the only way to accomplish anything is to work seven days a week, sun up until sun down, and a day off cannot be enjoyed because we worry about what we have to get done tomorrow. It is so vitally important that you take care of your mental health. Take the time to enjoy your family, have a day with friends and remember that there is nothing so important that it cannot wait until tomorrow. To many times we have made talking about stress and mental health a hush hush topic. We shame those that try to reach out for help and do not take the warning signs of depression seriously.
How do we do this? How do we let our friends, family and neighbors know that we are there for them? The first thing that we can do is talk to them. A simple phone call or a cup of coffee to sit and visit may mean more than you ever know to someone. Next we can watch for the warning signs, people don’t have to look sad to be depressed. If they seem distant, do not seem to enjoy things they always have or just seem off from their usual personality, speak up. Talking to them is the first step.
As I said, I am not a mental health expert, but there are those out there who are. If you suspect someone you know may be having suicidal thoughts, talk to them first, encourage them so seek help and remind them there is no shame in taking care of your mental health. Encourage them to talk to their pastor, doctor, parents, children or even psychologists. Agriculture is hard. It is a time consuming, taxing endeavor that takes a toll on your mind and body. For the sake of yourself and your loved ones if you are feeling at all like you cannot go on living seek help. Reach out to anyone. I would rather spend all night talking with a friend or family member then carry their casket.
I will leave you friends with this bit of advice, if the sky above ever turns gray instead of that beautiful clear blue it is time to reach out for help. 800-273-8255 is the number for the national suicide hotline. Please stand up for your friends, neighbors and family. That’s all for this time God Bless and this time help your neighbor keep tabs of his side of the Barbed Wire.
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