Words of Wisdom: Think it over again

Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

The carpenter says, “Measure twice, cut once.” That second look saves the day.

On the other hand, too much thought—without really thinking—does the opposite, like the guy who said, “I’ve cut the bottom off that table leg four times—and it’s still too short!”

There’s a difference between dwelling on something and thinking twice. Rehashing things, especially unpleasant things, can dig you into a rut. That second thought can get you out of it.

But what if the rut you’re in already seems too deep? If you can remember last winter, you probably know what it’s like to spin your wheels in the snow and dig yourself in even deeper. Pretty soon, you need a different plan. If nothing else, you can just walk away from your car and get a shovel, get a push, call a tow truck, or simply leave the thing there and wait for spring.

Climbing out of a mental rut can be like that, too. Unfortunately, sometimes, for some of us, it feels like a hopelessly broken record—we feel like there’s no way to fix it. We’re stuck singing the same old song over and over again.

And sometimes that has deadly consequences. Walking away from a stuck car leaves you a lot of options. Walking away from life leaves none.

That’s why this week, from Sunday, September 5, to Saturday, September 11, is designated National Suicide Prevention Week, a time to think it over, not to get lost in endless reruns, replays, and tire-spinning ruts.

Your Jamestown Gazette’s cover story this week invites readers to join us in observing the annual, week-long campaign to inform and engage the general public and local health care professionals in the life-saving work of suicide prevention. Our aim is to help everyone become more aware of the warning signs, or in the absence of warning signs, the issues that might lead to a suicide attempt. And with that, ways to save lives.

Among the thousands of successful strategies in suicide prevention, the following two are simply meant to remind readers that people matter to people who feel lost.

A few right words at the right time can help someone take a step back from self-harm. Halima Shegow of Sweden’s Revolution Poetry says, “You don’t need to be a doctor, or a psychologist, or a therapist to say the right words to someone. It can literally be one word, one sentence, and it just…it just clicks.”
Halima was moved by the words of poet Robert Frost, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Sometimes despondent people are encouraged that there is much good they can still do. Sleep can wait.
Michael Liguori, a US Marine, struggled with PTSD on homecoming and considered suicide, but discovered that “life is complicated, hard and often a constant struggle. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Those people who helped me cared and wanted me to live.”

So, our message this week is that we can make a difference, and if we’re the one who needs the help, we need not go through it alone.

But beware of kind words alone. You’ll never help somebody dig their way out of a rut without a shovel. In suicide prevention, words of kindness are best when backed by acts of kindness to match.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Think it over…again.

And please enjoy the read.

Walter 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.