This Poem Reminds Us About A Tragic Event That Takes Place ‘Every 40 Seconds’

"It can be a cry for help — but that's not a sign of weakness."

Trigger warning: This article contains sensitive material relating to depression and suicidal thoughts.

Did you know that every 40 seconds one person somewhere in the world dies by committing suicide? Spoken word poet Patrick Roche quotes this statistic — one from a 2014 World Health Organization study — which notes that each year more than 800,000 people die as a result of suicide. And silence, Roche points out, is the true thing to blame for this tragedy.


"Statistically speaking, by the end of this poem four people will have taken their lives," he prefaces, really putting into context the loss of life in combination with time passing. Roche goes on to deliver an equally emotional and powerful piece — aptly titled "Every 40 Seconds" — and counts off every 40 seconds or so to further stress his point. This clearly hits home for him. 

"This is not a numbered-list poem, this is a eulogy for those swallowed by their own minds. This is a call to arms, a call to speak," he says during the performance in Minneapolis during the 2017 Rustbelt Poetry Festival from back in June, via Button Poetry.

Much of the piece is about the importance of not staying silent as a means to deal with suicidal thoughts. Too often we lose those we love to suicide when we don't even know what they're going through. You only need to consider the recent losses of Soundgarden's Chris Cornell and Linkin Park's Chester Bennington — just to name a few. Luckily there are those like rapper Logic who are using their platform to raise awareness about suicide.

"This is not a list poem, this is the tea kettle rising to a soprano screech but you keep ignoring it to watch TV," Roche says, having also detailed a very personal struggle. "It keeps whistling and crying but you keep ignoring it. How much noise do I have to make? When we tell you we are suicidal, it can be a cry for help — but that's not a sign of weakness."

According to WHO's site, the statistics for suicide are still largely the same as they were in 2014 — and that's with it having been updated in August of this year. Clearly, suicide is still a topic that should be discussed in the open if we have any chances of lessening its impact. Silence is not the answer.

Watch Patrick Roche's poem titled "Every 40 Seconds" here:

If you or a loved one are in a crisis, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK to speak with a skilled, trained counselor who is ready to listen to you.


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