When you come to a fork in the road…

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Contributing Editor
Walter W. Pickut

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra—one of major league baseball’s all-time greatest catchers turning in nearly two decades behind the plate for the New York Yankees—also became known and loved as “the sage of baseball.” Yogi was a rough-hewn philosopher of everyday life.

But his wisdom was a quirky thing. Remember these?

  • Baseball is 90% mental—and the other half is physical.
  • A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.
  • You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you!
  • The future ain’t what it used to be.
  • It gets late early out here.

When you read Yogi-isms you always—just kinda, sorta—know what he means, and it even makes sense if you think about it.

That’s why I especially like the one at the head of this story…When you come to the fork in the road, take it. A fork in the road means you have choices. And that’s better than having none.

The trouble only comes when both choices look like dead ends. And that’s where the analogy breaks down. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, there always are lots more choices. Thanks, Yogi, that’s your wisdom.

So, this week your Jamestown Gazette asks our readers to join us in recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Month.

We want folks to see that at every fork in the road there is a way past the dead ends. There are always choices that lead to better places—maybe hard to find, and maybe overlooked—but always there.

But that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Living each day is one of the most extraordinary acts of courage, and that much courage can be hard to find alone. Sometimes it takes friends, loved ones, and wise counselors to help find the road to healing, help, and hope.

According to #BeThe1To and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, “All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness.”

Our advice this week comes from one more wonderful Yogi-ism. Watching for suicide danger signs in the people you care most about—and maybe even in strangers who cross your path—needs only this simple instruction:

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

And watching takes listening. There’s a story behind every attempted suicide. According to the American society for Suicide Prevention, “Listen to their story, and let them know you care. Ask directly about suicide, calmly and without judgement. Show understanding and take their concerns seriously. Let them know their life matters to you.”

That one conversation could save a life. A person facing a fork in the road needs a friend to find the way. Whether you have struggled with suicide yourself or have lost a loved one, know you are not alone. Be a friend to somebody who needs one this month. And here are a few more to keep in mind:

  • Dial the 988 Suicide Crisis Helpline
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7.

And, speaking of taking the best fork in the road, here’s one more bit of Sage Yogi’s wisdom.

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.” Of course, he means you can find the way.

So, don’t travel alone and look for the fork in the road that leads to life—it’s never a dead end.

Be the friend that somebody needs, this month.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.