Yesterday morning Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, murdered Kassandra Perkins, his 22 year-old girlfriend and mother of his 3-month old daughter. He then drove to Arrowhead Stadium where he briefly talked to head coach Romeo Crennel, thanking him for all that he had done to help him, and then committed suicide in his presence as police arrived.
How in the world do you lead in the midst of such tragedy? It’s unfathomable.
Until you have personal experience with it, you don’t realize how pervasive this problem is in our society. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. As of 2007 it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. and disproportionately affects men, who are four times as likely to die from suicide, as women.
People I love deeply have wrestled with the specter of suicide. There are times I’ve felt helpless as how to help my loved ones because ultimately their personal welfare is out of my control. I can encourage, support, and listen…but I can’t be in control…and that can be debilitating.
Even though I can’t be in control, I can still lead, and so can you.
We need to shine a light on suicide and bring attention to how people can be helped. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, seek help! You are not alone and there are people and resources to give you the help you need.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273 TALK (8255), is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In my local community of San Diego, Up2SD.org offers a wealth of information on suicide, its prevention, and resources available to help those in need.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of immense strength. Reach out to help yourself or those in need. It’s what leaders do.