Carrie Brown-Wolf: Tipping points and suicide (column)
For those of you who’ve not read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point,” let me briefly summarize. He uses the term to explain societal change after something repeatedly happens until finally it happens one too many times. That incident is coined the tipping point and wakes everyone up to the issue, launching a shift in consciousness.
Major tipping points in history include Hurricane Katrina in regards to the rise in awareness about global warming and natural disasters. During the civil-rights movement, people woke up after hearing about Rosa Parks.
Tipping points can also happen in smaller ways. For example, a parent pulls the plug on late-night phone use after a child turns in one too many late assignments. Anyway, you get the idea.
Last spring, Summit County reached its tipping point in regards to suicide. The only good news for a community that has suffered such death is that once a tipping point occurs, there can be significant growth.
And it’s happening. Summit County has collectively begun to create more awareness about suicide and mental health. Schools are putting it on the agenda. Advocacy groups are talking. And, for the first time, a fundraiser and conscious-raising event is coming to Summit County: Walk Out of Darkness on Sept. 13 in Silverthorne.
Another national movement, Project Semicolon, has been gaining momentum. The project is described as a “movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire.” This social-media brainchild has to do with raising consciousness via the use of a semicolon: When an author uses a semi-colon, they want the sentence to continue, not end. The theory behind the Project Semicolon is similar; people tattoo a semicolon on themselves as a reminder that life can pause but will continue.
Like it or not, uncomfortable conversations and movements must happen for people to understand. Once the conversations begin, action happens. And now, here in Summit County, it is. The events, projects, and discussions that are happening are not only important, but they are also essential for change. Now that we’ve suffered our tipping point, it’s time to continue to take action. Five simple things we can do as a community include:
support mental-health programs
participate in discussions about mental health
encourage school staff to work with all students and build awareness
support fundraisers, like Walk Out of Darkness
eliminate shame about mental-health issues
Keep it going, Summit County.
Carrie Brown-Wolf lives in Silverthorne.
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