I felt it fitting that I write something since this month is dedicated to the prevention of suicide. I am saddened by the increase of suicides and I hope that by bringing more awareness to it we can get this life-altering act out into the open and get people talking about it. There is hope! It is preventable!
My heart goes out to those who have been affected by this. There is nothing anyone can say or do to really make things okay. There is a journey, that isn’t in any book, there are no instructions for and that is scary as anything, which those affected by suicide will have to take. There are many groups out there for anyone who is surviving a suicide loss. You can find a list of Colorado support groups here. On that site is also the ability to look up different states. Brightside Counseling Services has a support group that is specific to spouses who have lost their wife or husband. Click on the Surviving Your Spouses Suicide support group link for more information.
So what do we need to know about suicide?
- Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among 30-49 year olds.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds.
- It is estimated that during 2012, during each adult who died of suicide, there were over 20 other who made an attempt.
- In 2012, suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 15th leading cause of death.
There is helpful information out there that comes from those who have attempted suicide and lived. Interviews of these people show that in most cases, immediately prior to the attempt, they were in a dissociative state where reality wasn’t present. They are listening to their inner voice, a monster, which is telling them, “nothing will get better”, “you’re better off dead,” “you can’t keep living like this,” and “you’re a burden to everyone around you.” As they are listening to this, they believe it.
Now, we all have that critical inner voice that lets us know what our weaknesses are. My inner voice will sometimes say, “I’m not good enough.” However, I am able to fight that off and I know I am good enough! Someone who is battling depression, or has physical pain that won’t go away, it’s not as easy for him or her to just know that the inner voice isn’t true. They live a constant battle that many don’t understand.
Most people who attempt suicide don’t actually want to die; they want the suffering to go away. This suffering is so unbearable for them that the only way they see resolution is through death. This is important to know and remember when dealing with someone who is contemplating suicide. If we can understand more of what they are going through and empathize with them, we may be able to reach them in different ways.
This monster, the inner voice, has the potential to be in each and every one of us. Some are able to easily wave it away, while others struggle with their entire being to get rid of it. Most of us know that this monster doesn’t define us, it isn’t in control of us and we can fight it off. For those that don’t know this and it does control them and define them, the struggle intense.
We need to take over this invisible threat and show people that there is hope and healing from the intense psychological pain.
What Can We Do?
If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please take the time to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There are experts that can help you and show you a way out. This is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hotline can also be helpful if someone you know is exhibiting some warning signs.
Not everyone will have these signs. These are just a few that seem to be more common.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or helpless.
- Talking about being in unbearable pain (this can be real or imagined pain and both physical and mental)
- A change in their sleep. Sleeping more or less than usual.
- Withdrawing and/or isolating themselves.
- Extreme mood swings. The person can become more positive due to the plan that they perceive as a solution to their problem. Other times, the person can become very angry, and start fights. This is again due to their plan and it gives them more strength to go through with it. Having others dislike them proves the concept that they will be better off.
- Suicidal talk. Call for support immediately. It’s better to be over reactive than under reactive.
How to Talk to Someone Who May Be Suicidal
- Be direct with them. Talk openly and honestly and be a good listener. Pay attention to what they are saying and needing. It’s okay to ask them if they are thinking of suicide. Saying the word and talking about it won’t give them the idea.
- Be non-judgmental. It’s not your job to convince them what is right or wrong. Listen to what they have to say and take it as their truth.
- Get involved. Show support.
- Seek support. Don’t promise that you’ll keep it a secret or that you won’t tell anyone. Most likely, there will need to be a team effort to help this person. You however, are a part of that team.
- Form a plan with them. Who are you going to tell about this? Take away the means to complete the suicide. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to get further information and help.
Suicide is suck a shock to all who surround that person. It often is encompassed in mystery and questions that we will never get the answers to. There is guilt, hopelessness, and lack of closure. If you have lost someone to suicide, I want you to know, it is not your fault. Even if you did everything I just wrote about, you still may not have been able to save them. Remember, they wanted out of the intense pain that they thought, “this is the only way out.” We know that isn’t true, but they didn’t. We need to continue to get mental health out in the open. It’s okay to have depression, be anxious, and seek help. You are not alone, and there is help!
Let’s start talking. If you need to speak with someone, please contact me at 303-353-9226 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help.