100 Ways to not die

I’m really struggling with the suicide of Chester Bennington. In retrospect, “Heavy” was a cry for help and I feel like we all missed it because we were busy relating to it. The struggle to let go, overcome, and become is often overwhelming. It’s the hardest thing a human being can do. It’s also the most compelling reason for us to come together.

At the forefront of my thoughts is the recovery adage, “There but for the grace of God go I.” If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, translate that expression to, “That could easily have been me.” I see myself in every overdose, every breakdown, and every suicide.

Kurt Cobain was me and every grunge kid of the 90’s. Chester Bennington was me and every F’ed up millennial. I feel jaded and sensitive simultaneously. I know that while my Facebook feed is blowing up with Linkin Park videos and celebrity tributes, three weeks from now no one will be talking about it.

And I’m standing here wanting to cry and scream and hug somebody. My brain is stuck on the recurring thought: This must change.

Each of us can be a catalyst for positive change and what we can do together is huge:

Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness and substance use disorders. We celebrate those who make it into recovery as the power of example and in full awareness that not everyone lives long enough to get that chance.

September 10 – 16, 2017 is National Suicide Prevention Week. The American Association of Suicidology, estimates show over 5 million Americans are survivors of suicide attempts. I kinda want to hug every one of these folks. Yet, nearly 43,000 Americans die this way every year. 22.2% of those folks are veterans.

If we combine the costs of addiction, untreated mental illness, and suicide each year it’s more than billions of dollars. It’s more than unfathomable tragedy. It’s overwhelming to the point we’re become a largely apathetic and desensitized society.

If you’re like me, you’re too sensitive to be desensitized. “Who cares if one more light goes out in this sky of a million stars. Who cares when someone’s time runs out if a moment is all we are? Well, I do.” – One More Light, Linkin’ Park

Here’s where I’m at: I don’t care how you’re F’ed up. The way I see it, you’re like me.

If you’re a cutter or a burner, whether your scars are visible or not, you’re like me. If you’re an addict, alcoholic, or a person living with an eating disorder, then you’re just like me. If you live with depression, PTSD, panic attacks, or other debilitating mental illness, you’re just like me.

If you know pain to the core of your being you’re like me. If you have felt broken, betrayed, violated or forsaken, then you’re just like me. I care about you and I very, very much want you to remain vertical and breathing. I overcame and continue to. You can too.

We just have to get together. No more suffering alone. No more numbing it. No more flirting with self-destruction because it’s the only thing that makes you feel alive. No more hangings. No more overdoses. No f’ing more.

September 13th, the Bangor Area Recovery Network (BARN) is combining National Recovery Month and National Suicide Prevention Week into one event. We are presenting a panel of people in recovery, professionals in the field, and folks who are passionate about overcoming demons.

2-4pm 142 Center Street, Brewer. The BARN is a grassroots community center run by those in recovery and their allies. We seek to bring people together to foster recovery of all types. Please join us. Please connect with us. Please lend your voices, your dreams, your sweat and your tears.

It’s time to get better.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.