I want you to stop right now and bookmark this post. Yes, before we even get started. Trust me.
Then I want you to get a piece of paper, or a sticky note, or a permanent marker and a convenient piece of wall, and write down two things:
1. This phone number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). That’s the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and it is staffed 24 hours a day. If you prefer to chat online, their website has a Chat feature. And please allow me to assure you that they are very nice people–as it turns out, I know some of them personally. Like, in real life. Like, they’ve been to my house, because they are my friends. They’re wonderful.
2. These words: “YOU MATTER“. Feel free to make that part as ornate as you want. Make it colorful. Make it gigantic. Turn it into a full-blown art project. Because frankly, this is one of the truest things I will ever say to you. You matter, dammit.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and while I know that we try to talk with some frequency here about how every one of us is a brilliant, critical part of the universe with the power to change the world, I also know that when you’re staring down the Void, all the pithy sayings in the world about being a beautiful and unique snowflake don’t seem to amount to much.
So I’m going to say it this way, over and over, using small words and no cutesy illustrations:
Here’s another thing I want to make sure someone has told you today: You have the right to change your circumstances anytime you want to. If your life, in its current incarnation, isn’t working for you, you have the right to change that. You can scrap your soul-crushing day job and join the circus. You can leave your marriage, especially if it is hurting you in a scary way. You can sell your house and live the rest of your days on a fishing boat. You can get out of the town where it is actually, literally dangerous for you to tell the truth about who you are. You have the right to make the changes that are necessary for you to have a safe, sane, and stable life.
Now, in the interest of complete honesty and full disclosure, I have to note here that not all changes are easy. Sometimes it’s a giant pain in the [rude word]. Sometimes it takes a lot of work, or a lot of courage, or a lot of planning, or a lot of trust. Sometimes it takes a lot of people.
But here’s the thing: that’s ok. Those people exist; if you already know people who are ready to help you change your world, then by all means, ask them for their help. You have the right to say “I need help, please”. If you don’t know anyone who can/will help you, then you can ask strangers. The folks at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline have all sorts of information about where and how to get help from people who absolutely, positively, will not judge you even a little bit. And you have the right to say “I need help, please, and I don’t know anyone to ask”.
For the record, providing that information is exactly why the Lifeline people exist. You’re not being a bother or an inconvenience if you call them–you are enabling them to fulfill their purpose. Because YOU MATTER—yes, even to a total stranger.
Another thing I want to be sure someone has said to you is this: You can be the One Good Thing in someone’s day. You can make all–all–the difference.
We’ve talked about this before, how It Takes 17 Muscles to Change the World (hint: try smiling at someone. You’d be surprised at the impact that can make), and how everyone is going to have a Last Day eventually and so every interaction you have has the potential to be the last thing someone will ever experience.
But here’s the thing: I want you to take a moment and realize–really let it sink in–that maybe, just maybe, using your 17 muscles to change the world can stop it from being someone’s Last Day.
I don’t want you to feel like you are personally responsible for saving the life of every single human being you run across today–you are not Superman (or Wonder Woman, or a gender-neutral superhero I can’t personally name at this time), and nobody is expecting you to save the world. However, it is worth noting that it’s awfully easy to feel completely alone and completely invisible in this world, so having someone do something nice for you–a smile, or a friendly note, or a “just happened to be thinking of you in a loving kind of way, so I thought I’d give you a poke” call or email–can make a gigantic difference. You can show someone that someone does, in fact, care. You can show them that they are not completely faceless. You can show them that you, personally, see them, and would be sad if you never saw them again.
Or to put it differently, YOU MATTER.
So do me a favor today, if you would: go love on someone. Or ask someone else to come love on you. You have the right to give and receive love. And keep this post handy, just in case you find that someone needs a little extra support today, or you find that you personally need a little extra support. It’s ok. You have the right to get that extra support.
Because dammit, YOU MATTER.