The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Power of a Smile: Suicide Prevention

Your smile could save a life. It's true. Check out the American Journal of Psychiatry article "Just a Smile and a Hello on the Golden Gate Bridge" in the link below. In it you'll discover that the Golden Gate Bridge is a magnet for the suicidal. Very few jumping from the span roughly 220 feet above the high water mark survive. One person who let a note behind said if a single person smiled at him, he wouldn't jump. He jumped.

John Kevin Hines is one of two survivors of the jump since 2000. He stated that if someone had smiled at him and asked if he was alright, he would have abandoned the jumped and pled for that person's help. 

The doctor in the article surmises that the smile and hello tell the person feeling isolated, depressed, and suicidal that they really are a person of worth recognized by someone else. That's a lot of power in a simple friendly greeting. 

In my faith as a Christian, one of the greatest commandments in the Bible is to love our neighbors as ourselves ... and our neighbors are everyone on this world of ours. In another passage, we are told  (Matthew 5:15-16) No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others ...


I say, love those neighbors, let that light shine, smile, say hello, and perhaps save lives. It's so very simple, isn't it? It's hard to believe it would work. And yet, what do you lose in trying? Nothing. What do you gain? You may never know, but you just may save a few lives. You may improve a few days filled with darkness. You may buoy a troubled soul and remind that person the world is not so bad. That person may smile at another, with the same impact. It might just spread to many people in many places. The light will shine and it will spread. Is that worth stretching a few muscles and adding a friendly greeting? Is it worth following the still, small voice inside you that says from time to time, this is a person who needs you. Smile and say hello. I'd recommend following that voice. It sure beats the alternative, having yet another person succumb to the terminal phase of a long struggle ... suicide.

To read the compelling article, see: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=98321



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