Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: Suicide (Part 6 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.
As I mentioned in yesterday's awareness post, today we have a guest post from Diary of a Madwoman. She is a mother of three and a widow finding her way through the journey of grief after losing her husband to suicide over a year ago.

She chronicles her journey with surviving after her husband's death and raising her children, who are still grieving and affected deeply by their loss. Her writing is rather inspirational and after you're finished here, I suggest you take a trip on over to her page and read her story from the beginning. She is such a strong and compassionate woman and her story really is remarkable.

(Originally posted on:) Tuesday, October 25, 2011
"There...I said the word. And I so hate it. I've been thinking today about how many people just don't get it. They think Dave is a coward, a quitter, a man who deserted his wife and 3 kids, babies so young they won't even remember their daddy. I probably thought all that too, before my life was destroyed by it. I've even admitted that if this happened to someone else I knew, I would be saying "How did the wife not know? Why didn't she help him? Why didn't anybody DO anything?" It's such a sneaky killer, really.  Those of us close to Dave in the last few weeks were the most shaken, obviously, but also the most stunned. Why didn't he say anything??? Why did he suffer in silence? And for how long?
When this happens to you, you realize that no one in their right mind does this. Looking back, I believe Dave suffered from anxiety and depression since Katrina. But I don't even think he KNEW what IT was. He never said "I'm depressed" or "I feel anxious". It was his way of life obviously. To cope he snuck pills, hid it from everyone. But the wrong kind of pills of course. And when he finally sought medical attention, he was prescribed adderrall. The adderrall put his problems front and center. Made everyday bullshit seem INSURMOUNTABLE. I feel so badly for him. I'm so sad this was his life. His one attempt at help killed him because he didn't understand the disease himself.
My sister in law is walking in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Fundraiser. The website is So appropriately named. I was saying this morning if you have cancer or diabetes or MS people do walks and raise money...but there is less understanding about mental illness. You can't see it on an x-ray so it mustn't be real. I wonder what would have happened if Dave would have seen a commerical or heard a radio spot or passed a billboard with a flashing suicide prevention number? Would he have called? Would he be here today?"

Posted by Diaryof a Mad Woman at 12:57 PM

Many people who commit suicide do so to end their own pain. Some even do it because they believe their loved ones will be better off without them. What many of those people don't realize is that their decision to end their own life will affect so many people around them, and has profound effects on the way their loved ones will live the rest of their lives. Those left to grieve the victim are called suicide survivors. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), this term implies that the grief felt from a suicide is more severe than or otherwise distinct from "normal" mourning. For every victim there are at the very least, six survivors.

Those who lose someone to suicide usually feel many conflicting emotions for the deceased individual. Intense feelings of shock, anger, hate, guilt, remorse, relief, sadness, and even peace may be some of the emotions felt by a survivor. Someone who has lost a loved one to suicide may experience new or worsened sleeping habits, feelings of isolation and emptiness, sudden change in appetite and other behaviors of depression. Sometimes, the suicide of a loved one can lead to dysfunction within the family (including divorce), loss of income and physical properties, or even more suicides.

When a person commits suicide they don't realize that the pain they are trying to end is the same (or very similar) pain that will be felt by their family and friends. The people they love the most are the ones who will feel the loss the worst. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, children, grandchildren, old friends, and new friends are all going to feel the pain of the loss of a suicide victim.

However, not everyone who suffers from the loss is close friends and family. The loss is usually felt throughout the community and many times, this is used as a time to promote awareness and learning, as well as, grief counseling. Fellow soldiers, teachers, principals, classmates, co-workers, doctors, police officers, paramedics, and even neighbors are all affected by a suicide.
 I’ll Never Forget His Face

"The night before I had a very uneasy feeling, so I had issues sleeping that night. I got up early the nest morning with my infant son. I started to hear people talking outside so I went out to see what had happened. Then I was told, “She won’t come out of the apartment”; without asking why or caring why I ran in and found her standing in her kitchen. I put my arm around her to start to guide her outside. As we spun around, I discovered why no one else would go in to get her. Her husband was in the doorway to the staircase. He was pale. His eyes were so empty; staring straight through your soul. He was motionless. His lips were blue. All I could do was stare as I noticed he was hanging by his neck with a pair of stretch pants. He had sent his daughter to school and then taken his own life while his wife slept in the next room. All I know, is that I still see his face sometimes."  ~~Patricia~~

(UTube Video: Blaine Larson: "How Do You Get That Lonely?")

I'd like to thank the wonderful Diary of a Madwoman for letting me use her personal experience with suicide for this series. It really means a lot to me and if you haven't already read the rest of her talented and inspiring writing then I suggest you go do so now :)

I'd also like to thank Patricia for sharing her story with us as well. You are a terrific friend and a strong woman. I love you, my friend.

I know I have mentioned it in almost all of the previous posts, but I am going to mention it 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.

In tomorrow's post I hope to be able to give some helpful/useful tips and advice to those who are considering suicide and those who have lost someone to suicide, on what they can do to either get help for themselves or someone else. I hope that you will come back then and see what I have to offer. I hope it can make a difference to someone.
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.

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