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.

Our True Heritage


 

 

 

Our True Heritage

 

 
The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.
 
It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.
 
You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.
 
 

 

Do You Have Personal Boundaries? Here’s a Quiz by Dr. Kathleen Fuller.


A colorful depiction of Maslow's Hierarchy of ...

drfullerstherapytips

Want to know the answer to the question, “Do I have good personal boundaries?” Then take a piece of paper and write the numbers 1-40 for this Self Improvement Quiz. Select the answer (never, seldom, occasionally, often, usually) trusting your first impulse answer. If you second guess yourself you are being dishonest. And that dishonesty could to be explored another time but for now second guessing can lower your self esteem and cause inner confusion. There is no perfect answer just do the best you can as you begin what could be your healing journey.
Answer using these words:

occasionally, often, usually, never, seldom.
• I feel responsible for others’ feelings.
• I don’t have much alone time.
• I get angry or irritated with others.
• I’d rather go along with others than say what I want to do.
• I feel guilty or bad for being so different…

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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…

Learning Strength And Wisdom Through Pain; My Journey Continues. . .


Learning Strength And Wisdom Through Pain And Grief; My Life Journey Continues. . .

“I eat too much. I drink too much. I think too much. I want too much.” Those happened to be the lines I heard from a song as I began this post while sitting on a train. I’m on my way to see Susan and Paul in Connecticut. This will be my second visit since their son, Michael, took his life four years ago.

The first visit was emotionally and spiritually tragic for me. I felt the pain oozing from Susan’s body with every move she made. I cried. I panicked. I ached.

Don't Give Up

After all, it was the least I could do, so I thought. . . to become some martyr to the feelings of pain.  As though I was paying my dues. Who was I to feel happy? This was my homage to Michael; to suffer his pains, and to be the friend I should have been to him while he was physically here. Then, maybe his mom would be distracted by my turmoil and I could take his place. And, perhaps, I could receive forgiveness from Michael too.

Yes, it may sound silly now but those were not only rational thoughts for me, but more like a set of obligations. I went to see Susan at her workplace on my final day of my visit. We both wept over this tragedy together. Suddenly, she gathered herself together, held her hands in mine and said, “Nora, you can’t help me until you help yourself.”

What an unbelievable woman she is, when I think to back to that moment. After losing both of her twin children to suicide, she was still capable of sharing the wisdom needed to guide me away from my self-destruction. It was a pure and sincere act of strength and love. It was the epitome of grace in its purest form.

Sadly, at the time, I wasn’t able to take her advice. I knew it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t want to yet. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to run away from my feelings, and I wanted to do it alone. That destructive behavior taught be a valuable lesson: No matter how far you run, your problems will always follow you.

So, here we are now, three years later and once again, I’m preparing myself for the emotional journey of grieving, laughing, crying and sharing. Except, this time, it will be different. I know better. I have grown and I have learned.  It is my time to share what I have learned after experiencing feelings that once seemed inconsolable.  This too shall pass. It’s been said that time heals all wounds. I don’t think that’s right. Love does.

Perhaps that is why I waited so long for this visit. It is time to see Susan again, and I know she feels the time is right too. We will not dwell in our pain, but share in our memories. We will not wallow in the darkness of our sorrows. Rather, we will rejoice in rising above our despair to find the light at the end of our once endless tunnels and truly understand the gift of grace.

My Wish For You

My Wish For You

“Where it was dark now there’s light. Where there was pain now there’s joy. Where there was weakness, I found my strength.” Through pain, we grow strength and compassion for people.  This weekend, we’ll drink too much, eat too much, think too much and want too much. And, frankly, I can’t freakin’ wait!

I’ve Learned by Omer B. Washington


I’ve Learned

by Omer B. Washington

I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is be someone who can be loved.
The rest is up to them.
I’ve learned that no matter how much I care,
some people just don’t care back.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust
and only seconds to destroy it.
I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in your life
but who you have in your life that counts.
I’ve learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes.
After that, you’d better know something.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself
to the best others can do,
but to the best you can do.
I’ve learned that it’s not what happens to people,
It’s what they do about it.
I’ve learned that no matter how thin you slice it,
there are always two sides.
I’ve learned that you should always have loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you’ll see them.
I’ve learned that you can keep going
long after you think you can’t.

I’ve learned that heroes are the people who do what has to be done
When it needs to be done,
regardless of the consequences.
I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly,
but just don’t know how to show it.
I’ve learned that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry,
but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.
I’ve learned that true friendship continues to grow even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.
I’ve learned that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to
doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

I’ve learned that no matter how good a friend is,
they’re going to hurt you every once in a while
and you must forgive them for that.
I’ve learned that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.
I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken,
the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are,
but we are responsible for who we become.
I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.
And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.

I’ve learned that sometimes you have to put the individual
ahead of their actions.
I’ve learned that two people can look at the exact same thing
and see something totally different.
I’ve learned that no matter the consequences,
those who are honest with themselves go farther in life.
I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of hours
by people who don’t even know you.
I’ve learned that even when you think you have no more to give,
when a friend cries out to you,
you will find the strength to help.

I’ve learned that writing,
as well as talking,
can ease emotional pains.
I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life
are taken from you too soon.
I’ve learned that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice
and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.
I’ve learned to love
and be loved.
I’ve learned…

Life Without Regrets

You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching/ Love like you'll never be hurt/ Sing like there's nobody listening/ And live like it's heaven on earth. ~ William W. Purkey

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

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