To The Editor, Lawrence Journal-World (Kansas, USA) https://www2.ljworld.com/opinion/2020/sep/09/letter-to-the-editor-preventing-suicide/
Increase awareness of a goal, share action steps for achieving that, and help a community change for the better.
During the month of September, during this pandemic, on World Suicide Prevention Day, and every day, let’s work on helping every person experience life with much goodness, with a sense of being valued, and a sense of belonging. With every person, especially those in oppressed groups, having access to health care, education, housing, nutrition, exercise, art and culture, employment, and fair salaries. With every person having a strong support network and the skills to balance the challenges that are part of life.
Most people have the ability to smile at others more often, listen more carefully, believe what a person says about how they feel, and/or perform small acts of kindness. Some of us can actively advocate for social justice, and some of us can reach large audiences, including people with the power to lead system changes. Some of us are those people.
That’s what suicide prevention really looks like.
Love really IS the answer
In Lawrence, Kansas, USA every year on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, I host Words Save Lives, a performance event. Thanks to the pandemic, this year’s event was virtual & co-hosted with 3 dear Poet-Friends: Ande Johnson, Cei Loofe, & Ronda Miller. Being virtual, the event was shorter than usual, and featured a diverse set of Artists of Poetry and Music.
This year’s performers from Kansas & Nebraska: Ronda Miller, James Benger, Annette Billings, Cei Loofe, Barry Barnes, Ande Johnson, Johnnie Exel, Poet Laureate of Kansas Huascar Medina, Macey Webb, & Louise / Michael Dieker. Thank you so much!!!!
Many of those performers shared some of their words in the WSL2020 Chapbook / E-Book. In addition, my encouragement to Be The Kindness that makes life worth living, and some of my most recommended emotional well-being (“suicide prevention”) support resources are included. The E-Book is meant to be used through a link, formatted on 8.5 x 11 pages. WSL2020 Chapbook / E-Book: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1El_MNKfqxl2oGo8xoaZjGm2AC5AznoJd/view?usp=sharing
Later in 9/13/2020 week the link to the WSL2020 recording will appear on the event page.
Words Save Lives 2020.09.10 https://www.facebook.com/events/996815617440956
A Brief History of Words Save Lives events in Lawrence, Kansas, USA
Poets of Lawrence, Kansas’ Red Tail Collective ~ Megan McHenry, David Douglas, Dustin Baxter, Anna Michener, Erica Hunter, Matthew J. Asbury, Garret Tufte, and Topher Enneking ~ and I launched Words Save Lives on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, in 2014. This very special event has grown over the years.
Words Save Lives has grown into a place that creates and strengthens connections, that reminds us that we are valued. A place with all the love and laughter and NO shame. Because We The People, in all our Beauty, need our Experiences represented by Artists of Poetry, Comedy, Story, Music, Drag, and more!
At Words Save Lives we celebrate being together. We celebrate living lives with so much love and goodness that we are able to get through the hardships. We communicate about all that, not just about our experiences with suicide. And we recognize that so many, too many, have more than one of the experiences with suicide.
Words Save Lives really is about Love. Love that is shared within the group of diverse people together in this special space ~ most years, in Lawrence Creates Makerspace. Love between all the people in all the roles: listening, sharing, hugging, performing, talking, drawing …. In 2020, we missed being together in-person, and still we are happy that technology allowed us to be together at #WSL2020
Love really IS the answer!
Marcia Epstein, LMSW
Lawrence, Kansas, USA
PS I am a social worker with a passion for helping people affected by suicide in any and all of the ways, bringing my personal & professional experience, ongoing learning, and always heart. I know that “Love really IS the answer.”
PPS The candles represent the experiences of suicide that so many of us have too many of:
💖 Red in honor & memory of people who died by suicide
💜 Purple for living with suicide grief
💙 Blue for living with suicide thoughts, self-harm, suicide attempts
💛 Yellow for friends-family supporting suicidal loved ones
White for people working (volunteer or paid) supporting suicidal people