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Purple and Turquoise: National Suicide Prevention Week

Posted in: Blog

While my work has been progressing beyond suicide prevention and suicide grief, I am still very IMG 0457much aware that this week is National Suicide Prevention Week and that tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day. When I looked at Facebook last night, I noted how many people had changed their profile pictures to the purple and turquoise ribbon that we use as the colors for the cause.

And then it took a moment for me to remember that I was one of two people behind the creation of those colors. Sandy Martin, who died several years ago and lost her son to suicide, had called me while she was waiting for a client to arrive at a house she was showing in her other life as a realtor. It was in those ten or so minutes we were on the phone that we decided to use purple and turquoise. 

Not long before that call, I had been lobbying the state legislature here in New Mexico around suicide prevention funding and it was multicultural day at the capital (the Roundhouse as we call it here). I noticed that the ribbons had many colors and it made me realize that causes had pretty much taken at least one color so we would need two to make something different for suicide. 

The colors were chosen because turquoise is deemed a healing color by Native Americans and I had heard the same about purple. At first we only used the colors in support of the suicide bereaved but later we branched them out to the entire cause. I never had a person turn me down when I asked them to wear one of the actual ribbons that LaRita Archibald and I created. As someone said at the American Association of Suicidology conference we were attending one year, "I doubt there is anyone in this room who hasn't been affected by suicide."

Eventually two types of pins were made and then wristbands. Last holiday season I saw on Facebook a Christmas tree using only purple and turquoise decorations. We aren't at the place where breast cancer is with pink but slowly and surely we are getting there. After all, slow and steady wins the race. The movement never goes fast enough for me, especially when people are in pain, but I also know that rolling this out in a steady manner will make a more lasting impression as we take it forward.

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about suicide and the warning signs, go to www.suicidology.org.