It’s important, vital and critical. It is stirring inside but unless you really pay attention, you’ll miss it. There are signs, the statistics are shocking but how were you to know? We simply don’t talk about suicide.
This past week suicide claimed the life of a family member. I didn’t know Tyler Hilinski personally, but I knew him. I admired him, cheered him on and cried when I heard the tragic news—he was part of our Cougar family.
The Shocking Truth
There are things we know about suicide that are nothing short of shocking.
- There is one death by suicide ever 12 minutes in the United States and every 40 seconds in the world.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the world for those aged 15-24 and the tenth leading cause of death for all ages.
- Suicide among males is 4x’s higher than among females. Male deaths represent 79% of all US suicides.
- Workplace suicides are also on the rise increasing 35% over the last ten years.
How Do We Miss It?
Adversity is unfortunately as common as a cold. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and is constantly knocking at our door as depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ every year. Females experience depression at roughly 2x's the rate of men.
So it is clear that adversity doesn’t ask for an invitation it simply walks in and trys to establish residence in our hearts and minds.
Did I Walk Right By?
On average every person over the course of their lifetime will have 80,000 meaningful interactions with different people. That means three times every day, over the course of our lifetimes, our path will intersect with someone who inside may be begging you to look past the smile on their face and see the hurt that has taken residence in their heart and mind.
What’s On Your Mind?
Life is busy and if there is one thing we all should recognize about “busy” is that is blinding and deafening.
I think there are two hidden truths residing in nearly everyone we know or meet.
- There is more going on in their life than you know.
- There is something troubling them that is painful. A situation or circumstance that is so discouraging or embarrassing they have no idea how to share it or deal with it.
Our entire approach to the people we meet, lead, and coach takes on an entirely different perspective when we look to understand what is on their heart and mind.
I Am A Cougar
I am a Cougar—a Washington State Cougar and proudly display my love and allegiance. Look no further than the license plate holder on my car—“I Bleed Crimson.” Wear the WSU Cougar logo anywhere and you are sure to hear someone cry out, “Go Cougs.”
And I sat in the stands and watched Tyler Hilinski lead the Cougars to one of the most exciting comebacks in Cougar history against Boise State in Martin Stadium just a few short months ago. The pictures of disbelief are unforgettable.
The Power of Family
Cougars are family. There is something special about family. Families are the glue that bind us together and lift us when we are down, rally us when we are out, and love us like no one else can.
And nothing hurts more than losing a family member. Especially when their passing came much to soon and for reasons no one can fathom or understand. What are we to make of and do with our sorrow and pain?
I had a wonderful mentor remind me repeatedly, “If you put your family first, you’ll never be disappointed.”
The Great Thing About Being a Coug
We are family. Cougars know how to rally. Adversity is woven into the fabric of being a Coug. It doesn’t define us. It simply makes us human. We bleed crimson not only as fans but because we are a community that cares deeply about people.
My prayers continue to be lifted for the Hilinski family, the Cougar players and coaches and all of Tyler’s friends that God bless them with a measure of peace, mercy, grace and courage.
Someone you meet today may be begging you to look beyond his or her smile.