By Mica Soffer, Publisher and Editor of COLlive.com
Although we write and post stories that thousands of people read every day, the op-ed you are now reading is a first for me. Because I am speaking to you now in my own voice, stating my own opinion about something that is troubling me.
The issue I want to address is suicide. It’s painful even to write that word. But it has become equally painful not to write it. We can no longer afford silence.
I realize that a lot of people wonder if suicide is really such an issue in the community, and to tell you the truth, I envy those people. I’m fairly certain that if I didn’t have the job that I have I would also wonder. So let me tell you a little bit from my unique perspective.
The emails and calls come in all too frequently. Another young person is gone–not from a sickness or an accident, but by their own hand (may Hashem have mercy.) I hear things that I wish I didn’t hear and I know things I wish I could get out of mind. The public has the “luxury” of reading carefully crafted obituaries on COLlive.com. They have the luxury of not believing that which is too horrible to believe. But as the person who hears the news before most of you, please believe me that the problem is bigger than you probably think.
Statistics aren’t really collected in our community. But we know that suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people in the country, surpassed only by accidents.
Rabbonim, educators and health experts in our community are all saying that we are facing a literal mageifa.
How many more precious young lives need to be lost before we collectively as a community cry out that enough is enough and at least try to do something?
Solving this crisis will not be simple. Suicide is the symptom of a larger issue. However, in my humble opinion, we as a community must show that we are taking this issue seriously. We must do something. And this is why I am writing this op-ed now although the issue has been weighing on me heavily for years. Finally, there is an opportunity for us to do something.
This coming Sunday, February 23, Dr. Eli Rosen‘s Neshamos organization is hosting a suicide prevention training course at the Razag Hall taught by Rabbi Yarden Blumstein, a Shliach in Michigan and certified “LivingWorks” trainer who has trained nearly 2,000 people in suicide prevention.
The first three sessions take place 8:30 AM–11:30 AM, 12:30 PM–3:30 PM, and 4:30 PM–7:30 PM. Men and women will be seated separately with a mechitzah.
These sessions will have more in-depth training and require a reservation. Reservations can be made by emailing [email protected]
At 8:30 PM that evening the entire community is invited to join a final training session.
We cannot solve this problem in a day. But we can show that we take it seriously enough to show up and learn skills that may save a life.
I am hoping that the entire community, especially our leadership, will attend and send a message that we are ready to do what it takes to start addressing this issue.