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.

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!

Rising Above Hopelessness And Despair


i swear.

Image via Wikipedia

A great enemy we all face is a cruel, punishing, debilitating tyrant– despair. Despair is caused by an absence of hope.  If you lose hope, despair is the cruel bully that quickly follows.

Despair leads us to many self destructive decisions and life choices. Despair leads us to addictive behavior and abusive actions , not only to others, but to ourselves. Despair robs us of our desire to move forward, have healthy relationships, or our desire to live.

Losing hope is the warning sign that we need help to restore our hope and to put a road block in the pathway of despair’s march to destroy us.

Our key to restoring hope is to get help.  Isolation kills.  People need people, especially in crisis.  All of us need an informal or formal support group of people we can reach out to when despair makes its march against us.

Do you have someone you can reach out to? As all of us should have a disaster survival plan in the event of an emergency, we should have a crisis intervention plan when we lose our hope and see the ugly head of despair glaring at us. Make a list of people today that you can reach out to, and reach out.  Do it today, ahead of despairs cruel offensive against you.  Don’t wait until despair has its ugly arms clutched around your throat, choking the life out of you.

With the help of people who care about you, you can rise above hopelessness and despair!

(For more help, please click on any of the organizations located on the left hand side of this blog. They are all free services and completely anonymous.)

Highly Praised Mental Health Supplement has been Released to Reduce the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health


Mental Health Awareness Ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

The Mental Health Foundation has released an on-line publication known as “Down on the farm: Depression and mental health in the rural south”. The original sixteen page supplement was produced and written in 2009 by New Zealand‘s Mental Health Media Grants Award winner, Yvonne O’Hara.

Originally written for the Southern Rural Life and Courier Country on September 29th for Mental Health Awareness Week, it was later released on October 6th for the Courier County in an effort to reduce the stigma and shame surrounding mental diseases faced by the families subsiding in rural and farming communities.

Due to the positive feedback of the publication, a new on-line version is now available to download. Some of the articles include topics such as depression, grief, stress management and financial planning. Click on the following link to download your own copy of the newly released supplement: Down on the farm:
Depression and mental health in the
rural south.

Do you know the facts about suicide?


It is reported that nearly 20 million people worldwide attempt suicide each year. While it is not always preventable, statistics show that 75% of people contemplating suicide display warning signs. If you know someone displaying the symptoms listed below, encourage them to seek professional mental help immediately.

Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Appearing depressed or sad for a prolonged amount of time
  • Preoccupation with death: talking, writing, ideations about suicide
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Change in sleep and/or eating patterns
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, shame and guilt
  • Exhibiting high risk behavior
  • Giving away personal, prized possessions

If you or someone you know needs help with depression or suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Hotlines: 1-800-SUICIDE

http://www.suicidehotlines.com

Tribute video to Michael


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