Monday, September 10, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: Suicide (Part 3 of 8)

September 9th through 15th, 2012
Suicide Prevention Awareness Week
Every year since 1974, the nation has come together in a week-long campaign to help promote Suicide Prevention Awareness.  All sorts of events are held all over our country, in the hopes that the information received there will help keep even just one person from committing suicide. The idea is to draw attention to suicide prevention, suicide warning signs, reduce stigma surrounding the topic of suicide (so that more prevention happens), encourage those who need it to seek mental health assistance, and to support those who have attempted suicide, as well as those who have lost someone to suicide.

Walks are organized, screenings are done, information is handed out, and memorials are held for those who have been lost. Fundraisers collect money for research for mental health issues, and for existing suicide prevention outlets.  All of this helps coincide with what is known as World Suicide Prevention Day, which is held annually on the 10th of September. As the name would imply, this is the day that suicide prevention is recognized all over the world. 

For my small part in helping promote and spread awareness, I am posting one blog post every day this week—Suicide Prevention Awareness Week—in the hope that even one person may be saved. I have experienced loss to suicide myself (some time ago now) and find this to be a therapeutic way for me to deal with that grief.

I intend to give you as much information as I can on suicide but I also strongly encourage you to take the time to read the personal stories attached within all the facts. These are real people, with real stories that I have collected, just for this occasion. They wanted to let anyone who reads their stories to know that they are not alone in whatever they are going through. There is hope and there is help.

Thank you for stopping by to check this out. Suicide is preventable. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to spread the word, so pass this along as you see fit to. Here’s to hoping we can help save some lives.

As I mentioned in yesterday's Awareness Post, Pauline Vetuna over at Just the Messenger. has graciously allowed me to feature a post she wrote at the beginning of August this year about World Suicide Prevention Day (with great links/info about what is happening in Australia for the day), as part of my Suicide Prevention Awareness posts. I can not express enough how appreciative I am for the honor to host such wonderful writing on my blog, thank you again Pauline for letting me showcase some of your wonderful work.

Before I let you get to her post, however, I very strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to read up on who Miss Pauline Vetuna is. Her story is a humbling and inspirational one. Take a break and head on over to her page by clicking here and here to meet her and see who she is BEFORE you continue on and read her marvelous post. It is worth it, I promise.
Originally posted on August 8, 2012 by

In early August 2004, barely into his twenties, a friend of mine – and mad Elliott Smith fan – took his own life. He had struggled with mental health issues, rooted in a childhood marked by poverty, deprivation of love, and instability. As devastating as his suicide was, his untimely death came as a shock to no one – he was born into a house and body of pain, which he tried to numb with alcohol and drug use. Unable to connect in a healthy way with the world, the inner isolation drove him over the brink. Towards the end of the following year, another good man, who had made my high school experience much less repugnant over coffee, outsider wit and Daria, died in similar circumstances, at the age of 21. As he and I had lost contact over the years, I did not find out about his passing until about five months after the fact.

At the time I found out, I was an in-patient at a spinal rehabilitation hospital, waiting for modifications on my parents’ newly mortgaged house to be completed, so I could bust out. Whilst out for the day, I ran into a high school friend at Flinders Street Station and, still in a world of grief herself, she abruptly broke the news to me. A week or so later, through several hours of debriefing with her, I found out more about his life. A sensitive and intelligent young man, he had become involved in community activism to support LGB youth, but privately struggled with his own turmoil. I realized that we had faced similar trials during that previous year, 2005: relationship break-downs. Extreme anxiety. Depression. Fear. Loneliness. Untenable bottling of emotions. Self-medicating. At the very time he passed away, I was contemplating doing the same.
I am thankful that I didn’t take that final action, as I have witnessed the pain and suffering of those who are left behind. The emotions they are burdened with run the gamut from grief to anger, confusion, guilt, and even shame. Coming to terms with the hole that is left, and the unanswered questions, is part of the unending process of dealing with such an enormous loss. Those left behind can resent the person who committed suicide for the “selfishness” of the act; view them as inconsiderate of those that cared about them. However, whilst the circumstance surrounding every death is different, suicide usually occurs when a person’s pain exceeds their resources and ability to cope. The friend who left in August was not selfish – at the same time, in his own mind, he was completely alone. His life was undeniably harder than his peers. From the writing he left behind, it was clear he could not feel anything but pain by the end – not even the love of those around him.

This is ILLNESS, after all. It is a particular kind of pain that is impossible to understand if you have never been inside of it, inside that mental state. I hope you never are. Nonetheless, thousands of Australians will experience it. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 44 and women under 34. The ABS, Causes of Death 2009 report showed deaths due to suicide numbering at 2,132 – which equates to 6 deaths by suicide a day, or one every four hours (and these are just the suicides that are reported). It showed that more people die from suicide in Australia than from skin cancer, and that Indigenous people are FOUR TIMES more likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous people.  And for every completed suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to do so.

BUT THERE IS HOPE. There is hope in taking positive action, in arming yourself with knowledge on how to support both others and yourself in times of dire need. Knowledge on what to do and where to turn to, to find appropriate assistance, and to nourish your own mental well being.

THE 10th OF SEPTEMBER IS WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY (WSPD). On this day, numerous events, conferences, campaigns and local activities call to public attention what is one of the world’s largest causes of premature and unnecessary death. Essentially, it’s about getting information out, and connecting people  to the support, services and resources that could prevent them, or someone they know, from taking such a drastic action. Everyone is invited to get involved by participating in or hosting an event as part of WSPD. To do so, check out the official WSPD Australia website HERE. The website also contains a ‘Help‘ page HERE with links to hotlines and organizations that assist people in need, and a great ‘Resources‘ page with links to information on suicide and mental illnesses. Check it out HERE.

As part of World Suicide Prevention Day, an organization that has been of personal assistance to me, LIFELINE AUSTRALIA, is organizing ‘Out of the Shadows and into the Light’ Walks, to mark the occasion and raise awareness about suicide prevention. To join an Out of the Shadows walk (or register your own), go to the website HERE. Lifeline provides various services for people in crisis and those that care for them, and has published Suicide Prevention Resources and Information  – you can download and read through them HERE.

And if you or someone you know is suicidal (and you live in Australia) you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14  (call 000 if in immediate danger).
Hanse Joshua Peterson
3/27/87 to 2/4/03
In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, the International Association for Suicide Prevention is offering EVERYONE an opportunity to participate in a candle light vigil. No, you don't have to go anywhere. It is easy. At 8 pm, wherever in the world you may be, simply light a candle close to a window to show your support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide prevention awareness, survivors of suicide and the memories of lost loved ones.

As I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, I will be participating tonight. I will be doing so to honor the memory of a great friend who, tragically, took his own life at the age of 15 years old. It is for his memory and for my grief that I chose to participate originally. Now, I also participate to help spread awareness. I encourage EVERYONE to participate in this simple event.

Suicide is preventable. All it takes, is for someone to listen. All it takes, is for someone to reach out.

If you live in the Tillamook area, there is an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshop that you can attend. According to the information ad in our local newspaper:

"Asist is a comprehensive suicide intervention training. ASIST is the result of more than 20 years of research and development, and is the most widely used suicide intervention program in the world. ASIST is partially funded through a federal grant targeting suicide prevention alternative.
By the end of the workshop you will know:
  • The signs of suicidal thinking
  • How to intervene to prevent immediate risk of suicide
  • The resources available in your area"
 If you are interested in attending this workshop it will be held on September 20th and September 21st from 9 am until 5 pm at Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC). Registration for attendance is required. The cost to attend is $30 per person and for Social Workers, Counselors, and First Responders there are Continuing Education Credits available for taking this workshop. If you would like to register, please take a moment to call (503) 842-8201 ext. 271.

I really want to thank Miss Pauline Vetuna, again, for allowing me to host her over here on my blog for today! I really, truly do appreciate the honor :)

There is another post for the series headed your way tomorrow. The main focus will be self-harm and other warning signs of suicide. Keep your eyes open for it and thank you again for reading.
If you need someone to talk to, please call the number above.
There is someone one the other end who WANTS to help you.
Suicide is NOT the answer.


  1. It is an honor to have my words featured as a guest post on your blog, especially on this important occasion. My respect and thanks for your wonderful initiative in highlighting this issue, for bringing awareness in this form. Every bit makes a difference.

    With gratitude.

    1. :) It was my pleasure to have you as a guest here today!! I felt that what you had to say on the matter was of high importance and the information you provided on the events going on in Australia today (as well as emergency info) is more insightful than I could have been alone. My respect back for also taking the initiative to speak up and help spread the awareness, not only to suicide, but to mental wellness as a whole.


I enjoy reading feedback!! Even if I don't respond, I do read and rather enjoy the comments!! Thanks again for reading and have a bitchin' day!!

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