Stopping Suicide


It’s the anniversary of the day that Robin Williams committed suicide so it seems like a good time to talk about this a little, it’s also less than a month from the day my brother took his life eleven years ago.  With a new baby at home I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother, he was thirty five when he died and now I am seven years older than he will ever be.  I’ve been through a divorce, I’ve had two daughters, and I’ve found someone to share my life with and some small degree of happiness.  Through the process of grieving and helping others to cope I found my best friend for life and together, well mostly her actually, we started this site.  Several of the most momentous and life changing events have happened to me in these last eleven years and specifically in the last seven years.  My first daughter was born, my second daughter was born, I went through a divorce, Steve Jobs enslaved mankind with his iPhone, Pizza Hut came out with a hot dog crust pizza, and many more exciting and dramatic things have happened, I just can’t think of them all at the moment.  Granted a hot dog crust pizza may not be the most life altering thing to have hit humanity, but it’s given me a lot of pleasure to see the looks on peoples faces when I tell them about it I can tell you that much.  They seem torn between wanting to try it and genuine despair for humanity.

My point is this.  The world has changed in a mere eleven years, and he missed it, all of it.  He missed the good and the bad, the absurd and the amusing.  He will always be thirty five and he’ll never have a chance to eat a hot dog crust pizza or at least make fun of it.

So lets talk about suicide.  The CDC compiles the information about it and the latest data is from 2013, you can peruse it yourself at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here’s a quick overview.

Suicide is overwhelmingly committed by males.  78% of all suicides are male, and while females are three times more likely than males to attempt suicide they account for less than a quarter of actual suicides, that’s pretty staggering facts.  Just let that sink in a bit.  Just by being male you are four times more likely than a female to commit suicide, and if you are a white male in America you account for 70% of all suicides.

Age and location is also a big factor, the highest rates of suicide are grouped between 45 and 64 (the highest) and 85 and up (second highest).  Montana has the highest suicide rate of any state at 23.7 per 100,000 and the District of Columbia the lowest at 5.8 per 100,000.

There is even data on how people commit suicide, in the U.S. firearms account for the majority of suicides at 51.5% which is 27 percentage points higher than the next method which is suffocation.  In countries where firearms are inconveniently not available suffocation takes their place such as in the UK.

My point is this.  It doesn’t matter.  All the facts and the figures, all the prevention methods, all of it, meaningless.  This isn’t a popular stance I know, but it’s realistic.  We cannot prevent most suicides by talking to people.  Anyone that can be talked out of suicide most likely wasn’t going to do it in the first place.  Typically suicide is not a spontaneous action.  For the most part it is very well planned out and executed.  There is always exceptions to the rules, but that’s exactly what they are, exceptions.  Suicide is not going to be cured by talking.  Suicides will be eliminated when we figure out how to cure the underlying cause, not the result.  The result is suicide, the cause is mental illness.  Cure one and the other goes away.

In the meantime lets concentrate on working with people who have been effected by a suicide and helping promote mental health.  We can effect change in these areas.  I’m not saying we should get rid of suicide hotlines and support because there are people out there that still need them.  What I’m saying is lets concentrate on being effective and curing the root of the problem.

That’s just my two cents.

Brad.

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I See You-Inner Wise Self


I see you in your stops and starts, your fears and resistances. I see you in your glorious unfoldings and creative inventions. I see you think you’re not enough, and then see you leap to the next spot, laughing. I see you write yourself in and out of memory and dream, smoke and shadow. I see your new writings taking flight. I see you refusing to quit for long, I see you willing to sob on the floor, I see you showing up to the page, over and over , over and over again- even when it’s boring, messy, not your favorite. I see you celebrating, creating, making your writing REAL and sharing your life’s purpose. I see you allowing the splendid imperfections and glaring omissions and inescapable truths and uncertainties. I see you, I know you, I love you unconditionally– completely and forever. Call on me constantly. I’m right here, right now, right always. I adore you.

 

With loving support,

Inner Wise Self  

Words To Remember

Mother’s Day Poems For Grieving Parents



A week before Mother’s Day; I have lamented on what to say to all mothers who have lost their children on this occasion. Alas, I realized that I do not have the words as I have never yet had children of my own. Who am I to bring words of wisdom on a subject regarding feelings that I cannot begin to comprehend? Still, one of the reasons for the articles written on this blog is to bring solace to those who are seeking a brief reprieve from their grief. With this in mind, I decided to post poems by those who have expressed the loss of a child.

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Here are the poems I chose in dedication to every mom missing their child. Please read and enjoy, or cry, or yell, or smile. . .or whatever feels right in your heart. I wish I could hug each one of you to know that someone out there cares. As long as I shall exist, this blog will always be here and I hope it brings you some relief to know that you will never be alone in your grief.

A Peak Into Heaven
by Callie Sanders Thornton

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Just one little peek into heaven,
Is all I’m asking for today.
I just want to know how she’s doing,
And heaven seems so far away.

Is she playing on the clouds with angels?
Is she laughing and running today?
Does she miss me?
I guess only she knows.
Oh why does heaven seem so far away?

If you just let me look for a moment,
To catch a glimpse of her sweet smiling face,
I promise I won’t try to take her,
I know, she’s in a better place.

Just one little peek into heaven,
Is all I’m asking for today.
I just want to know how she’s doing,
And heaven seems so far away…

Just For Today For Bereived Parents
by Vicki Tushingham

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Just for today I will try to live through the next 24 hours
and not expect to get over my child’s death,
but instead learn to live with it, just one day at a time.
Just for today I will remember my child’s life, not just her death,
and bask in the comfort of all those treasured days
and moments we shared.
Just for today I will forgive all the family and friends
who didn’t help or comfort me the way I needed them to.
They truly did not know how.
Just for today I will smile no matter how much I hurt on the inside,
for maybe if I smile a little,
my heart will soften and I will begin to heal.
Just for today I will reach out to comfort a relative or friend of my child,
for they are hurting too,
and perhaps we can help each other.
Just for today I will free myself from my self-inflicted burden of guilt,
for deep in my heart I know if there was anything in this world
I could of done to save my child from death,
I would of done it.
Just for today I will honor my child’s memory

by doing something with another child
because I know that would make my own child proud.
Just for today I will offer my hand in friendship
to another bereaved parent
for I do know how they feel.
Just for today when my heart feels like breaking,
I will stop and remember that grief is the price we pay for loving
and the only reason I hurt is because
I had the privilege of loving so much
Just for today I will not compare myself with others.
I am fortunate to be who I am
and have had my child for as long as I did.
Just for today I will allow myself to be happy,
for I know that I am not deserting her by living on.
Just for today I will accept that I did not die when my child did,
my life did go on,
and I am the only one who can make that life worthwhile once more.

For All Parents
by Edgar Guest

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I’ll lend you for a little time,
A child of mine he said.
For you to love there as he lives
And mourn when he is dead.

It may be six or seven years,
Or twenty two or three.
But will you , ’till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,
And shall his stay be brief.
You’ll have his lovely memories,
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from Earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there,
I want this child to learn.

I’ve searched the wide world over,
In my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes,
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain.
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take him back again?

I fancied that I heard them say,
Dear Lord, thy will be done.
For all the joy thy child shall bring,
The risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may
And for the happiness we’ve known
Forever grateful stay.

But shall the angels call for him
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
and try to understand.

For those grieving their mothers on this occasion, I will post something for you this week as well. You are not forgotten. And for those of you who are blessed to have your mother’s presence today, appreciate her while you can. After all, we only get one in our lifetime. There is no love like that of a mother. . .
. . .which reminds me, I need to go buy my mom her Mother’s Day gift!
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Happy Mother’s Day mom. I love you.

A Dose Of Sarcasm For Valentine’s Day


Just when we thought we survived the holidays, here comes another one sneaking around the corner-Valentine’s Day. People have their opinions about Valentine’s day, some endorsing it and others dismissing it to a day dedicated to greeting cards.  Fact is, it is considered an annual traditional holiday and for people in mourning, it’s a reminder of our loss. It evokes feelings of memory and traditions, tugging at our emotional boundaries.

Here’s my advice: if you made it through the past two months of holiday “festivities,” maybe crying in your eggnog while hurled in a fetal position in your bed (oh wait, that was me..) then this too, shall pass.

Now, my opinion and 75 cents will buy you a cup of  coffee (unless you’re at Starbucks.) Make no mistake, I’m not an emotional counselor, a psychiatrist or any type of doctor of any kind. I simply blog about mental health advocacy and list the professional agencies here on the site for you to use as needed. My expertise is that of being a human being and any advice I give is based off of my personal experiences.

I’ve read many articles with suggestions on honoring your loved ones and their memories by baking cakes, writing personal notes, lighting candles, and so on. They bore me, especially because I won’t take any of those suggestions. Not only that, I won’t feel bad about not taking them. You know why? Because I’m learning how to live with loss my way. I have been doing that for years. There is no cure, remedy or corny sentiment that anyone can share with me that will make me any stronger than I am right now. We’re all unique individuals and we all learn recovery in our way, on our own time.

This year, another Valentine’s Day will come and go, like it does every year.  I’ll think of my life, my loved ones and probably get a postcard from my chiropractor or dentist, wishing me a happy holiday while reminding me to come in for my overdue check up.

For all of you One To Six readers, have a wonderful Valentine’s day. Celebrate it, ignore it, or simply sit back and see where the day takes you.  I’ll be here, thinking of my next holiday post…

Time To Be Grateful. . .Like It or Not.


It’s that time of year again. . .another holiday to reflect on our lives. In all honesty, today, I felt sad and lonely. Mostly for having very few people in my life to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with, besides my mom. There were no children running around the house, no siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Nobody fighting about who would slice the turkey. Heck, I don’t even eat meat!

Nevertheless, my mother and I prepared a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, and set the table with all the trimmings. We sat and ate, shared a few stories and  within a blink of an eye, our meal had come to an end. I excused myself from the table, still feeling somewhat depressed and wishing we could somehow miraculously multiply as a family.

Then I went downstairs to be alone and I called Michael’s mom, Susan. (For those of you who don’t know, Michael is the reason for this blog. He is the reason you are reading this right now. He is a part of my life, even after taking his own.) When I spoke to Susan, she sounded grateful. Grateful for the phone call; grateful to be remembered, grateful to know that she was loved.

Then I thought how silly I was for feeling like I was somehow cheated. Sure, I don’t have a house full of family members strewn about, mixed with all the chaos and craziness associated with the typical Thanksgiving holiday. But, who cares? Why was I comparing my life to what should be the norm? Who decides what the norm is? Does that even matter?

After talking to Susan and hearing her voice, I felt incredibly grateful. That phone call made me realize that I’m grateful for having her in my life, and the fact that she is loved.

I realized that we all have something to be grateful for. We don’t need to live in a mansion, we don’t need to drive fancy cars, we don’t need to have big families, and we don’t even need to be ecstatic about where we are in our lives. But, we’re not alone, even if we feel like we are.

One thing Michael did, that I recommend to all, was to write a gratitude list. He would write about anything and everything that he was thankful for…things like a roof over his head, food in his refrigerator, legs to walk with, and a computer to write on. . . .

So, today, I am grateful. I am grateful for have having known Michael. I’m grateful for Susan and her loving husband, Paul. I’m grateful for my tiny family. I’m grateful for being loved.  And, I’m grateful to all of you who are reading this right now.

What to Do When You Fear Someone May Take Their Life (via AFSP)


When You Fear Someone May Take Their Life

Most suicidal individuals give some warning of their intentions. The most effective way to prevent a friend or loved one from taking his or her life is to recognize the factors that put people at risk for suicide, take warning signs seriously and know how to respond.

Know the Facts

PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS

More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves are suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders, in particular:

Depression and the other mental disorders that may lead to suicide are — in most cases — both recognizable and treatable. Remember, depression can be lethal.

The core symptoms of major depression are a “down” or depressed mood most of the day or a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed for at least two weeks, as well as:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns

  • Change in appetite or weight

  • Intense anxiety, agitation, restlessness or being slowed down

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Decreased concentration, indecisiveness or poorer memory

  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, self-reproach or excessive or inappropriate guilt

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

PAST SUICIDE ATTEMPTS

Between 25 and 50 percent of people who kill themselves had previously attempted suicide. Those who have made suicide attempts are at higher risk for actually taking their own lives.

Availability of means

  • In the presence of depression and other risk factors, ready access to guns and other weapons, medications or other methods of self-harm increases suicide risk.

Recognize the Imminent Dangers

The signs that most directly warn of suicide include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself

  • Looking for ways to kill oneself (weapons, pills or other means)

  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

  • Has made plans or preparations for a potentially serious attempt

Other warning signs include expressions or other indications of certain intense feelings in addition to depression, in particular:

  • Insomnia

  • Intense anxiety, usually exhibited as psychic

  • pain or internal tension, as well as panic attacks

  • Feeling desperate or trapped — like there’s no way out

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Feeling there’s no reason or purpose to live

  • Rage or anger

Certain behaviors can also serve as warning signs, particularly when they are not characteristic of the person’s normal behavior. These include:

  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities

  • Engaging in violent or self-destructive behavior

  • Increasing alcohol or drug use

  • Withdrawing from friends or family

Take it Seriously

  • Fifty to 75 percent of all suicides give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.

  • Imminent signs must be taken seriously.

Be Willing to Listen

  • Start by telling the person you are concerned and give him/her examples.

  • If he/she is depressed, don’t be afraid to ask whether he/she is considering suicide, or if he/she has a particular plan or method in mind.

  • Ask if they have a therapist and are taking medication.

  • Do not attempt to argue someone out of suicide. Rather, let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone, that suicidal feelings are temporary and that depression can be treated. Avoid the temptation to say, “You have so much to live for,” or “Your suicide will hurt your family.”

A hug can do so much for someone that's hurting

A hug can do so much for someone that's hurting

Seek Professional Help

  • Be actively involved in encouraging the person to see a physician or mental health professional immediately.

  • Individuals contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to do more.

  • Help the person find a knowledgeable mental health professional or a reputable treatment facility, and take them to the treatment.

In an Acute Crisis

  • If a friend or loved one is threatening, talking about or making plans for suicide, these are signs of an acute crisis.

  • Do not leave the person alone.

  • Remove from the vicinity any firearms, drugs or sharp objects that could be used for suicide.

  • Take the person to an emergency room or walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital.

  • If a psychiatric facility is unavailable, go to your nearest hospital or clinic.

  • If the above options are unavailable, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Follow-up on Treatment

  • Suicidal individuals are often hesitant to seek help and may need your continuing support to pursue treatment after an initial contact.

  • If medication is prescribed, make sure your friend or loved one is taking it exactly as prescribed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. Usually, alternative medications can be prescribed.

  • Frequently the first medication doesn’t work. It takes time and persistence to find the right medication(s) and therapist for the individual person.

For more information, visit http://www.afsp.org

Endings Are The Start Of New Beginnings


The old saying, "all good things must come to end" is probably more accurate than we would like to believe. And certainly if the end is not followed by fresh new starts and new beginnings, we can feel as though our "story" is ending. This can lead to depression or just a lack of motivation and passion for life. But, it doesn't have to. Perhaps we should view our lives as a sequel. We are simply moving from one book to the next in the ever building drama of our lives, in which we, and our supporting cast, are the main characters.

The end of a job, a relationship, a passion or pursuit should be viewed as an opportunity to move on to the next chapter; the next book in this sequel we are in. Closed doors cause us to look for open doors. Endings are the start of new beginnings.

 

The truth is, endings are a part of all our lives. It’s the price we must pay to move forward and arrive at our next destination. How we view those endings in our lives will determine how passionately we pursue the opportunities awaiting our future.


With the right attitude and the motivation to move forward, you can let your endings or failures be the fuel that moves you to seek the new beginnings that will create new opportunities, relationships and directions. Look for new beginnings today. They are most likely not far away from your reach!

 

Remember, your “story” is still being written!

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