If you need help for yourself or someone you love,
call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
or online at: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
If you or someone you love has faced sexual assault, now or in the past,
call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), the National Sexual Assault Hotline
or online at: www.rainn.org (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)
. . . I know about suicide. My earliest memory is of arriving home from country school one day to find an ambulance taking my father away in a strait jacket to Mendota Mental Health Institute. He had been threatening to shoot himself with a shot gun. He was committed to Mendota for several months, then returned home. NO ONE talked about what had happened in my family; it was the mid-50’s.Like so many people who attempt suicide, he had a mental illness. Major depression. Attempts reoccurred, nearly fatal, none foreseen enough, because WE WEREN’T EDUCATED, to thwart the attempt. There were repeat hospitalizations.
The family of 6 children blossomed and grew; except this child. Gail Louise (myself) blossomed and … retreated in my 20’s first into mild depression, then full-blown suicidal depression in my early 30’s.
I encourage you to view the video below. Here are three inspiring stories of people who’ve survived an attempted suicide. Told though their voices and those of their families’, the stories recount journeys from suicide attempt to a life of hope and recovery: A woman in mid-life, a man in his sixties, and a young man whose attempt occurred when he was in High School.
Stories of Hope and Recovery
(Material courtesy of SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
I can’t at this point in my posting describe my experience. But let me refer to one of my favorite writers. Listen to Kay Redfield Jamison, professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, tell of her experience with being suicidal as she wrote in The New York Times this August after Robin Williams death, “Suicidal depression involves a kind of pain and hopelessness that is impossible to describe — and I have tried. I teach in psychiatry and have written about my bipolar illness, but words struggle to do justice to it. How can you say what it feels like to go from being someone who loves life to wishing only to die? Suicidal depression is a state of cold, agitated horror and relentless despair. The things that you most love in life leach away. Everything is an effort, all day and throughout the night. There is no hope, no point, no nothing. The burden you know yourself to be to others is intolerable.”
Despite these deep despairing thoughts and feelings, a person having thoughts of suicide CAN BE HELPED. Thomas Joiner, PhD, a psychologist and leading expert on suicide wrote in Myths about Suicide that people who attempt suicide are ambivalent to the last moment. In the book Why People Die by Suicide he posited that there are three factors common to people who commit or attempt suicide: a feeling of being a burden on loved ones, a sense of isolation, and a learned ability to hurt oneself.( This last trait combines overcoming the instinct for self-preservation and growing accustomed to danger, fear and pain.)
With these three factors in mind, let us:
(For Family and Friends – From the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance website)
- Make clear the connection you have with the suicidal person; he or she is not a burden
- Make clear that he or she matters to us; talk about their existence as important to you
- Remove dangerous weapons and tools from easy access (guns, knives, old medications, poison)
- Don’t leave the very depressed or suicidal person alone
- Stay calm and talk slowly
- Ask simple questions (repeat them if necessary, using the same words each time)
- Say “I’m here. I care. I want to help. How can I help you?”
Dear Family and Friends: It’s vital that you do talk to the person who is despairing and feeling suicidal. You MUST inquire how they are and if they have any plans to take their life, etc. You WILL NOT be planting an idea. You must tell the person with time, they will get better. Their dark thoughts and feelings are most likely caused by a medical illness. Getting the person to talk helps the person; I know, I have been there. BE COMPASSIONATE. LISTEN ACTIVELY.
(For The Individual – From the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance website)
- Suicidal thoughts are temporary. Suicide is permanent.
- Suicidal thoughts are NOT reality. Your bad feelings are not the truth and they are not your fault.
- Tell someone RIGHT AWAY how you feel; GET HELP 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Know that YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS. Promise yourself that you will hold on for another day, hour or minute. You are a hero.
Dear Individual: You are hurting. It is urgent to talk to somebody TODAY. Find someone you trust and can talk with honestly and openly. Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your physician, family or friends. Talking helps; I know, I have been there.
Thank You Kindly,