A great feature of Linked In is the ability to join groups and participate in conversations about business related topics. Recently I responded to a comment thread that was a little off topic but permissible. I was fairly ruthlessly attacked in writing by one of the other group members. While this did not necessarily bother me, there were a few issues that saddened me and touched a sensitive spot in my soul.
The sum total of the attack upon me, and others, was that we were mentally ill for the beliefs we held. Allegedly, this is a group centered on health insurance topics so I guess this was the writer’s way of sliding a health related issue into his diatribe. This gentlemen was so ‘off base’ in his comments that some us of started to refer to him as Crazy Bill.
However, the most disturbing development was the number of people who supported and believed in what Crazy Bill was advocating. How could intelligent people dehumanize others solely based on their beliefs? That’s when I realized that Linked In wasn’t just for smart people, anyone can join.
My general reply to Crazy Bill and the others was that despite what they thought of me, I was still willing to take a bullet to preserve American freedoms including their right to free speech. Of course, if America does fall into civil war, I can only hope that the bullet does not come from Crazy Bill. Think of the irony!
On a more serious note, September 4th – 10th, 2011, was National Suicide Prevention week. It occurred to me reading the comments left by Crazy Bill and his supporters that their words and labels can have a significant impact on the mental health of others. At the very least, their words can put people into depression, and at the worst, they can be the tipping point that pushes someone over the edge. I know you may scoff at my theory, but I believe it.
A deadly combination is the lack of self-worth and lack of hope. It is absolutely impossible to know what the fuel gage for self-esteem shows or the hope meter indicates for any specific person. When you run out of both, at the same time, you have a proverbial broken down car in the middle of Death Valley in August.
Health Insurance companies take your mental health seriously. So seriously, in fact, they will deny you health insurance if you have attempted suicide. If you have discussed suicide with a professional and have taken medications for suicidal tendencies; the best you can hope for is a rate increase, the worst is out right denial of coverage for individual and family plans.
Most of us are not counselors. But all of us are human beings. I may not agree with Crazy Bill, but if he needs a person to talk to, I will listen. I will not judge. I will not offer homespun advice beyond directing him to seek professional help or to call a suicide prevention hotline. 1-800-273-TALK National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Another great resource is the Treavor Project 866-4-U-TREVOR. The mission of the Trevor Project is to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including their nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone.
How can you support National Suicide Prevention Week? Smile at people, have a pleasant conversation and most importantly listen to what the other person says. You are not looking for suicidal tendencies, you are merely filling up the gas tank of self-esteem and protecting the flickering flame of hope for most people.