Friday, September 14, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: Suicide (Part 7 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.

"After years of abuse of all kinds I had a pretty low self-esteem. Feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred led me into deep depression. The only thing I ever wanted was to be loved and not getting any led to thoughts of suicide. The only way I can describe the way it feels is that there is a big black hole inside of me. A void if you will. The longer I go without feeling loved the blacker it gets.

Finding someone to love me for me has been a life-long journey. There were a few times I thought I found it but as time goes on it turns out to be a fruitless effort. And I’m once again in darkness. Any disappointment or being spoken to in a certain way brings on the depression as well as the suicidal thoughts.

I have tried to kill myself too many times to count. It didn’t work cause I’m still here. Someone always intervened and kept me alive. The last time I tried I got locked up in the looney bin. I was thinking of doing it again when I found out that I was pregnant.

That baby saved my life and I’m still here today because of my three girls and now for my grandbaby."  ~~Tanya
**I love you mom. I am more than happy to have (unknowingly) saved your life. Thank you for letting me share this with everyone.**


Many people who commit suicide do so because they believe that no one will care if they are gone and they feel like there is no other way for them to end their pain and suffering. Both presumptions are wrong. If you are having suicidal thoughts or behaviors there are things that you can do--other than attempt/commit suicide.

If you are currently struggling with thoughts of suicide or suicidal behaviors, here is what you can do:
  • Talk with someone you trust about these things, ask for their help in seeking treatment
  • Talk with a counselor or therapist about these things
  • Sometimes, writing in a journal can be a healthy outlet for these thoughts and substitute for the behaviors
  • Call the local, national, and international (if it applies) hotlines dedicated to suicide prevention
  • Call 911 or any other emergency services number and inform the operator/dispatcher of your crisis
  • Stay away from ANYTHING that you can use to harm yourself
  • Check yourself into a local hospital
  • Go to the emergency room
If you are someone who thinks they have a loved one considering suicide, here is what you can do:
  • Assure the person that you are there for them to talk to and that you will help them in any way that you possibly can
  • Ask questions
    •  "Are you okay?"
    • "Is there something you would like to, or need to, talk about?"
    • "Are you thinking of committing suicide?"
  • NEVER keep someone's plan of suicide a secret
    • Tell someone who can help the person seek proper treatment
  • DON'T try to minimize the person's problems
  • DON'T try to shame the person into changing their mind
  • Acknowledge their pain is legitimate and offer to work with them to seek help
  • Call 911 or any other emergency services number and inform the operator/dispatcher of the crisis
  • Call local, national, and/or international suicide prevention hotlines
Often times, people forget or fail to realize that the pain of losing someone is terribly burdensome. Many suicide survivors feel as if they are alone and have no one they can turn to. This in turn can lead to severe isolation and depression for survivors.

If you know someone who is a survivor, here is what you can do:
  • NEVER blame the survivor for the death of the victim
    • 90% of suicides have underlying conditions such as clinical depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar illness, and schizophrenia. 
    • Depression in not caused just by life events like losing a job, dissolution of a relationship, or feelings of rejection in general, but a chemical imbalance in the brain as well.
  • Express sympathy and empathy
  • Understand that the survivor may be experiencing a multitude of emotions
    • Shock
    • Rage/anger
    • Sadness/depression
    • Confusion
    • Relief
  • Remember that everyone grieves in their own ways and times
  • Ask questions
    • "Are you okay?"
    • "Do you want or need to talk?" 
  •  Really listen to the survivor and offer help and advice appropriately
  • Read books about suicide and grieving after suicide
  • Find out about suicide survivor grief/support groups in your community
    • Pass the information onto the survivor
    • Offer to go to meetings with the survivor
    • Go on your own
 If you happen to be a suicide survivor yourself, here is what you can do:
  • Know that the emotions you are feeling, even suicidal ones, are normal. If you feel you are in immediate danger of suicidal acts call 911 immediately.
  • Know that it is okay to grieve.
  • Know that it is okay to be angry or fearful.
  • Know that it is okay to feel helpless and alone, these things are common.
  • Give yourself time to grieve. Healing is a time consuming process. Take as long as you need.
  • Keep asking yourself "why" until you no longer need to ask at all
  • Know that it is okay to laugh and cry
  • Delay making major life decisions immediately following the suicide death of a loved one
  • Be patient with yourself
  • Find out about suicide survivor grief/support groups in your community
    • Attend on your own
    • Attend with a friend or family member 
  • Avoid people who tell you how to feel or what to do
  • Don't be afraid to seek professional help
  • Read books on suicide and grieving after suicide
  • Don't be afraid to talk to close friends and family
    • They may not talk about it freely in the mistaken thought that it may be too painful for you. Go ahead and initiate a conversation. 
  •  Realize that it is okay to go on with your life. 
    • It doesn't mean you didn't love the person or that you don't miss them. It just means that you are slowly learning to live a little differently without them, one day at a time.
    • It means that you are living. You are surviving.

 Friend's Suicide

"There [were] two friends of mine [who] grew up together. They did everything together. If one tried out for sports the other one did too. There names were Jack and John. Their nicknames that I gave them were the Twin J's. The reason I called them that is because they liked anime. They collected books, comic books, toys, and shows of there favorite characters.
One day Jack's parents told him some bad news. That his father had colon cancer and that he only has a few months to live. His father and him were best friends so it really hurt him. Jack went in a deep depression. He pushed himself away from his friends including John. Some weeks later he started coming back. Four months later, he was getting back to normal. Then the tragady happened. His father died. Jack went off the deep end. It looked like he went into a coma. He didn't do anything. He just stayed in his room. We all went over to his house day after day to show him that we care about him and his situation.
One day while I was at work. I got a call from Jack's mom. She said that she got a call from the hospital saying Jack had been shot. I left work and met her at the hospital. I asked her what happened and she said no one had told her anything yet. A few minutes later the doctor came out and told her that her son had died. She dropped to the floor and started to cry.

I asked the doctor how he got shot. Just then, two cops walked up to us and explained that they pulled him over for speeding and as the cops were getting out of their car, Jack got out and pointed a gun at the cops. They warned Jack to drop the gun but he didn't and Jack loaded the gun. Jack shot once and the cops shot back. She got upset with the cops but the cops knew she was upset about her son being dead. The doctor handed a piece of paper to one of the cops that they found on Jack and then the cop handed it to Jack's mom. It stated:

I can't stay in this world any longer. I can't live without my father. So I'm going to kill myself. I don't know how or where. (Jack's Suicide Note)
So it seems that he used the cops for his suicide. It's called Suicide by Cop.
Jack's mom went into a deep depression and John was depressed too. I was a little depressed but I was worried about John and Jack's mom. So I pushed it aside. What I did was, I brought John over to Jack's mom's house and I talked to them, showed them that I loved them. I did that everyday. I also took care of them for a month and a half. They were coming around at that time. Jack's mom [then] decided to move in with her brother in Colorado and John moved with his parents because his father got a better job offer. I haven't seen them since.

My depression stayed [with me] but I had my other friends to help me through it."  ~~Sam S.
 **Sam, I love you buddy. I am glad that you made it through that tough time and that you had wonderful friends who could be there for you. Thank you for letting me share your story with everyone.**
I want to thank everyone for letting me use their stories to help spread awareness to those in need. I know I have said something similar in every post thus far (and believe me, tomorrow's thanks section is a little long) but I really am appreciative of everyone's help with this project.

I also want to remind everyone that 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 is the last segment in the series I have for Suicide Awareness Prevention Week. In it, you will find resources for those who are considering suicide and resources for those who are considered suicide survivors. I hope that you come back tomorrow and I hope that you will spread the information to someone who could use 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.

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