Dear Sacred Purpose Readers,
Today is going to be a good day and here’s why: because today you are here, and that’s enough.
As I sat in the Music Box Theatre in Manhattan, with my best friend and fraternity brother, I began to see myself in a character named Evan. Honestly, I began to see myself in multiple characters that evening. I will admit here and now I cried. I cried a lot. Catharsis is a remarkable feeling, but sorrow is too. I wept for my own thoughts of “not being enough” and for friends whom I watched “disappear” through mental illness and suicide. Witnessing a single performance brought out all those feelings and it was overwhelming.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is one death by suicide every 12.3 minutes. Suicide among males is four times higher than females, and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts is significantly higher among adults aged 18-29 than among adults 30+. When we discuss mental health, suicide, and suicide prevention, these emotions are tell-tale signs of someone who needs help. Too often these signs are in front of us and we are unable to act. Sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes out of sheer awkwardness, we let little clues pass over us. Let’s back up for a second and catch everyone up to speed.
Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a lonely student who is mistaken to be the best friend of a fellow student who took his own life. Through a series of mishaps and good intentioned white lies, he finds himself befriending the grief-stricken family, truly believing he can help them feel closer to their lost son. His lies soon spin out of control as a video of a speech he makes at an all school memorial assembly goes viral and we learn the extent of his anxiety about connecting in the age of social media.
I will not spoil anything for you, but know, this musical is heartwarming and gut wrenching all in the same breath. So why are we talking about it here? What significance does it have to Sacred Purpose?
Sacred Purpose is at the heart of the smash Broadway Hit Musical Dear Even Hansen, which debuted last December. Bringing in nine Tony Nominations, Dear Evan Hansen has taken the theater world by storm. Much like last year’s Hamilton: An American Musical, it has captured the attention of nearly every demographic imaginable.
Simply put, Dear Evan Hansen connects us. All of us. “Because everyone should matter.” The title character in this musical is anxiety ridden to the point where his interpersonal skills hold him back from making any real connections. Not for a lack of trying, Evan finds himself, like some of us do, caught between living in the real world and living behind our screens. Early in the show, you discover Evan feels like he is on the outside looking in and wondering if anyone would notice if he “just disappeared tomorrow.”
Engaging in conversations around mental health and suicide can be tough. Often, we lend our support by liking, sharing, favoriting, or retweeting posts (similarly to what you might do with this one), only to find out it isn’t enough. Then we create memorial blogs and pages to remember people. We post how loved they are, but unfortunately, those words will never be read or heard by the people who needed it the most.
Evan sings, “I’d rather pretend I’m something better than these broken parts. Pretend I’m something other than this mess that I am.” If you have ever felt this way, you know how easy it is to pretend. You know how to use your coping mechanisms to shield yourself and those you love from the storm in your brain. Thankfully for me, and for Evan, getting help and having someone to talk to pulled us both out of those dark spaces.
But what do you do when you see someone you care for exhibiting these emotions or others like it? Your willingness to talk about mental or emotional issues and suicide with a friend, family member, or co-worker can be the first step in getting someone help and preventing suicide.If you see something, say something. Having an emotionally open dialogue with our brothers, friends, and family about suicide is an important first step in prevention.
“Let that lonely feeling wash away. Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be ok. ‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, you can reach out your hand.”
Thank you, Evan Hansen, for doing what you’re doing.
For more information about Suicide and Suicide Prevention follow the links below
The Silence of Suicide- Sacred Purpose
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
1 (800) 273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline