Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: Suicide (Part 4 of 8)

September 9 through September 15, 2012
Suicide Prevention Awareness Week
Every year since 1974 ('75?), 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.
"I am smart and I am funny. I am pretty and yet I am not vain. I am socially outgoing and have tons of friends. I am opinionated and open-minded. I have been weak and I have been strong. These are things most anyone who knows me can tell you about me. What almost no one knows--not even my family--is this: I used to be a cutter.
Not because I wanted to die or felt I needed to die. I did it because I was horribly anxious, severely depressed, and at my wit’s end. I had tried everything short of medication and regular therapy (both of which I couldn’t afford because of no health insurance) to ease the anxiety and pain I felt. Nothing seemed to work. Nothing, that is, except for cutting.

It was the release I was looking for. The meditative feeling I couldn’t experience any other way. The pain from the knife wasn’t really pain at all but rather an intoxicating high of relaxation. I did this for quite a while before the influence of a few of the best friends I will ever have made me quit. Made me seek healthier (albeit, more expensive) alternatives to deal with the things I was going through.

While getting help was rather difficult for me to do, it was the best decision I could have ever made. It has been seven years since my last cutting session, but sometimes when my anxiety and stress levels are through the roof, I still get the urge to cut. I crave that high.

I can only imagine how much worse it could have gotten…My friends saved my life and I can never thank them enough."  ~~Anonymous submission~~
Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. If you missed the post, check it out here, I hosted a wonderfully talented and inspirational guest blogger yesterday. Thanks, again, to Pauline Vetuna over at Just the Messenger. for allowing me the honor.

Did anyone participate in the candlelight vigil at 8pm last night? I did, in honor of a lost friend. Hanse, you are loved and missed everyday you are not with us.

What other things did you do to help spread awareness in your area? Please, feel free to share with us in the comments section. Now, I will get on to the next part of the series...

Self-harm, often referred to as self-mutilation (though not all self-harming behaviors are also mutilating), is a term that means to deliberately hurt oneself without the intent to cause one's own death. This is a MAJOR warning sign of suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies that can be, and often times is, overlooked. Talking with a very, very good friend of mine recently, she made the statement that self-harm (cutting, in this particular conversation) is extremely addicting. This is something else that is often overlooked and under-talked about but very true.

Self-harm can include one or more of the following:
  • Cutting on any part of the body (though the wrists and forearms, as well as thighs, can be favorable places) ------>form of self-mutilation
  • Self-tattooing and scarification ------> form of self-mutilation
  • Self-burning, usually with cigarettes, lighters, candles and matches -----form of self-mutilation
  • Head-banging (against walls, door frames, concrete, trees, etc.) ------->form of self-harm
  • Very hard pinching of oneself (hard enough to leave deep bruising and/or break skin) ------> form of self-harm
  • Scratching (can refer to use of fingernails or use of razor-blades and knives where only the top few layers are scratched. Usually very minimal bleeding)

There are many reasons that lead a person to use self-harm. The most common response that I was able to gather, is this (summarized in my words), "It is a release....Of tension, anger, frustration, fear, and most importantly, pain. It is a way to let some of that negativity flow out of the body. A way to be reminded that you are alive." Stress, depression, anger, emotional pain, disappointments (social or personal), and an inability to express oneself in a positive/healthier manner are all reasons a person may resort to self-harm. Again, the intent behind self-harm is NOT death. However, untreated/stopped, I believe, it can lead to addiction and death.

There are MANY things that a suicidal person MAY do before they take their own lives--some suicidal individuals will show NO SIGNS before they commit suicide. I must mention, many of these can be rather subtle things/actions, ANYTHING out of the ordinary for someone you know well should be taken seriously. Don't be afraid to ask questions and provide support, even if you are unsure.

Some things to watch for include:
  • Self-harm
    • As I stated above, this is a MAJORLY overlooked sign. This is also a sign that has probably persisted for awhile before the actual suicide attempt is made.
  • Appearing depressed/sad most of the time
    • Undiagnosed/untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.
    • While this may mean the person has received necessary help, take time to ask, it may mean they are just about to commit suicide.
  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself -----> NO threat should EVER be ignored!!
  • Talking about being hopeless, helpless, worthless, and/or a burden to others.
  • Suddenly visiting and/or calling family and friends (especially those they haven't seen/heard from in awhile)
  • Increasing and/or picking up the habit of abusing drugs and alcohol.
  • Major change in eating and sleeping habits.
  • Seeking out ways to commit suicide: research online, purchase of guns/ammunition, knives, pills, rope, etc.
  •  Getting their "affairs in order"
    • Changing or completing a will
    • Sudden, last minute funeral arragements
    • Giving away prized possessions to family and friends
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) has an easy to remember Mnemonic to help you spot signs of suicide. IS PATH WARM.

Substance Abuse


                                   Mood Changes

 Remember, not all suicidal persons will show signs that they are thinking about suicide. If you see uncharacteristic behavior in someone you know well, take a minute to ask them what is up. It just might make the all the difference.

The personal story I am about to share with you is a poem that was written to the previous anonymous guest in this post, as the two happen to be good friends. The author of this poem has asked me to stay anonymous and I am respecting their wishes. However, I personally know this individual. If you STEAL this poem just because it says anonymous and I find YOUR name attached to it, there will be hell to pay!!!

                               Paper Mache

                  They come in nice little patterns
                  Lines spaced about ¼ inch apart
                               1 nice big X
                    And in one lovely nice red

                  You say it externalizes the pain
                       Well it sure as hell does
               Because everyone around you aches
                   But how is it my place to say?

                So cut yourself to paper mache
              I’ll advert my eyes and turn away
                 And curl up in so much pain
                 To see my friend go to waste

                 But it ain't my fucking place
                     How ever could it be?
                 Because your perfect body
                        Is for you to ruin
                         And not for me.


I want to thank both of my anonymous guests today for allowing me to share their stories with the world. It really means a lot to me that you would allow me to do so!! *Hugs and Love*:)

Yes, I am going to mention this again:

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.

Tomorrow I have another addition to add to my week-long project. I will be touching on the subjects of Bullycide and Who is at Risk for suicide. I hope that you will keep reading and pass along any or all of the info to anyone who you think may benefit from it.

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. I always felt that this one summed it up pretty well. Great writing dear <3

    I’m going to paint a picture
    A picture with a twist
    I’ll paint it with a razorblade
    I’ll paint it on my wrist.
    And if I paint my picture right
    A fountain will appear,
    And in this bloody fountain
    I will disappear.

    1. I ALMOST USED THAT ONE!! :D It was one I was always rather fond of myself for some reason...


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