February 14 is Valentine’s Day. A day for chocolate-covered strawberries, Hallmark cards, the special prix fixe Valentine’s dinner with the lover of your dreams and a dozen red roses.
At this time of year, you are bombarded with reminders to celebrate your romantic life and establish more intimacy. But what if you’re not involved with someone special right now?
At the Missouri Suicide Crisis hotline in St. Louis, the number of calls jumps up on this day.
From CBS St. Louis:
Lesley Levin, the President and CEO of Behavior Health Response, says for those who’ve been jilted, divorced or feel unloved, the messages from mass media can be overwhelming.
“There’s lots of hugging and kissing, and everybody looks really really happy and romantic,” said Levin. “Even if you’re in a relationship and its one that doesn’t have a lot of romance to it, you can feel pretty left out.”
Levin offers up some helpful tips to shake away the blues, like buying yourself some flowers or candy. Also taking a bubble bath or getting some exercise can get you in a better mood.
Levin says they’ve beefed up the phone staff as they do on all major holidays.
They’re expecting up to 600 crisis calls, compared to an ordinary day of about 400 calls.
In California, the Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast (SPSCC) experiences the same phenomenon. Diane Brice, director of SPSCC, reports that Valentine’s Day marks the beginning of a period with the highest rate of suicide.
Brice has been seeing this pattern play out over 23 years. From City on a Hill Press:
“February comes and you’re supposed to be in love and you’re supposed to be feeling better because it’s springtime, but some people don’t,” Brice said. “That’s when it gets really difficult for people, because of the expectation to feel better.”
The push to believe that to find true fulfillment you must be in a romantic relationship is not limited to Valentine’s Day. This goes along with the notion that there’s something wrong with choosing to be single. I enjoy eating alone, especially when traveling, but I always get those pitying looks from waiters, along with the question: “Will anyone else be joining you?”
As a freelancer, I have received several pitches for Valentine’s Day like “A Survival Guide To Being Alone On Valentine’s Day,” and “How To Make It Through Valentine’s Day Without A Sweetie.” In other words, you had better understand that you’re a freak if you’re not involved in a romantic relationship.
I am not seeking to negate the feelings of men and women who are driven to suicidal thoughts on this day, but I do partially blame the media for making them feel this way.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all honor this day by loving ourselves? If you are single, celebrate your single status, as I did on the first Valentine’s Day I spent without my ex-husband. I had been raised to believe I couldn’t make it without a man by my side, and the delicious sense of freedom from a bad relationship was invigorating.
And whether you are single or in a relationship, remember to celebrate your own unique self!
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