Updated: Jun 13, 2018
Well, it is time to talk about the elephant in the room. Suicide is such a delicate topic. I know it is spoken about, but not as often as it should be. It is not until a tragedy happens, that then others begin to speak on it. If we spoke about suicide for what it is, perhaps it'd be more likely that, then individuals be inclined to seeking help before. I feel like sometimes even when people attempt to seek help or be honest about their suicidal ideations, they are punished for it (Ex. being baker acted). And honestly, I mean, I just can't really seem to grasp that concept. It is literally like the perfect example of when your parent(s) say "if you tell me I won't get mad/there won't be any consequences", but then there is consequences. Studies have shown 123 people die of suicide per day, and my heart feels so much and so deeply for those 123 lives and families who have and are suffering. Suicide is tragic and heart wrenching but it could be prevented.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL): 1-800-273-8255
Did you know suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Florida? Obviously there is no way to keep exact count of suicides a year and/or attempts. Regardless, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) accumulates data suicide attempts, such as self harm, as well. Often times, it is difficult to differentiate intentional suicide attempts from unintentional suicide attempts (Ex. self harm). Studies have shown, approximately one person dies by suicide every three hours in the state of Florida alone. Death by suicide totality reflects a total of 51,242 years of potential life lost (YPLL) before the age of 65 in America. For every suicide committed there is 25 attempts.
Suicide is a global issue
Did you know that men die by suicide three and a half times more times than women? The significance in higher rate of suicide among middle age men, in particular, is not only alarming but so saddening. Men are the first ones to be made fun of for showing emotions, but that will be an entire separate post. Suicide can be caused by anything, and that is the saddest part. Not only do environmental stressors play a role, but mental health disorder(s), medical health issues, debt, medication(s), work, etc.
The most alarming suicide statistics to me are those caused by BULLYING. Bullying man. Words can be used for so much good, yet they tend to be used to show malice and demean. Victims of bullying are 2 to 9 times more likely to contemplate and/or attempt suicide than those who haven't been bullied. 10 to 14 year old girls actually have a higher risk of suicide because of bullying. Bullying can occur online via social media, text message, it can be physical bullying, or emotional bullying. A study conducted at the Williams Institute UCLA School of Law showed findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survery (NTDS) that bullying among transgender individuals were the cause of 46% trans men and 42% trans women suicide attempts (Haas,Rodgers, Herman. 2014)
Concerning prevention, if you know me, you know I am a HUGE believer in psychotherapy, also known as, "talk therapy". There is a lot we can and could fix in not only our lives but the world, by not just simply talking but emphasizing on listening to others rather than always feeling the need to 'fix' people. Often times than not, the person just wants to be heard but doesn't know who or if someone is willing to listen. Understandably, it is a very vulnerable state in which one places themselves when opening up about their suicide ideations, or just emotions. Depression is much too often one of the main disorders associated with suicide, however, a portion of them are undiagnosed or untreated.
Recently, studies have shown the significance in decline within psychotherapy, due to medication. 'Big pharma' (i.e. Pharmaceutical industry) will definitely be its own post in the near future, in order to get into the depths of it. Though, medication is sometimes a necessity (Ex. in certain circumstances, and everyone's circumstances in life are different) but most medications, if you read the side-effects, you will note that 'suicidal thoughts' is often an effect.
Psychotherapy will continue to decline if no one advocates for it. Not everyone believes in the effectiveness of psychotherapy, shit, not everyone believes in psychology for the study of what it is. Humans, individually and collectively. And that ideology in itself, mind boggles me. The brain is so powerful, our thoughts can have so much power over us. And in some way, we must all have some consciousness of that. All of our brains are wired differently, chemically and emotionally, but at some point in our lives we've all been overwhelmed with our thoughts and environmental stressors. Name me the person that has never been overwhelmed, because we may need to take some pointers from them.
Granted, not everyone has suicidal ideations because they are overwhelmed. But the point is to understand, empathize with others. We have ALL, at some point in our lives been overwhelmed. Life can be really hard, and not everyone knows how to cope with the situations life throws at them. In a moment of disparity, if someone feels they have nothing to live for, no one to confide in, no one to comfort them, suicide may seem like the best option at the time. It is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something we should work on. Not only as a society but as a universe. We can be so cold to one another and not realize it.
In my first post, I mentioned the importance of listening. If you've read one, two, maybe all of my previous posts, you will notice my recurring emphasis on LISTENING. Listen to what people tell you, not only how they phrase what they are saying, but their actions. Far too often, individuals who commit suicide, do show signs but rarely are others LISTENING to what they are really saying and/or presenting. Yes, I am aware none of us are clairvoyant's. I am the first person to tell people that. We can't tell the future, what people are going to think, do or say, and to some people that is enough reason to leave things as is and not ask probing questions. But we shouldn't let others repress and dwell in their own emotions. We should make others around us, feel so comfortable they can undoubtedly feel that they can confide in you.
I am definitely no scientist, I actually really dislike anything with numbers because numbers confuse the hell out of me, but the chances of each and every one of us knowing someone with suicidal ideations and/or has attempted suicide are very high. If you happen to not know someone who has suffered from suicidal ideations or has attempted/committed, it is something to be thankful for. It is a tragedy for not only the person who suffered, but for the family and friends. No one, and I mean no one is perfect. We are all flawed but that is what makes us so individually distinct and beautiful.
Suicide will never be 100% preventable, but a decline in attempts/successful attempts is better than an increase. Ask your friends and family (or not, if you don't talk to your family) how they are, be "annoying" if you have to. Honestly, if anyone around me knows anything about me, I will always be that "on top of you" friend/person, asking how you are. If you're emotionally content, if you are struggling with anything, how your work and/or school environment is making you feel. I've always been big on listening, I'm more of a listener than a talker, sometimes to a fault.
Through listening, many things can be achieved and progressed. Building rapport with others, should always be the objective, both professionally and in your personal life. I saw a quote a few days ago that really stood out to me, "Don't feel bad if people remember you only when they need you. Feel privileged that you are like a candle that comes to their mind when there is darkness". This quote stood out to me because often times, you will hear people say "they only talk to me when they need me" and although I can understand why people say that sometimes, it is something to take pleasure in. The fact that an individual can be so sad, so overwhelmed with their own thoughts and lives, and still feel you are somewhat of a light to them in their time of despair and hopelessness, is something truly beautiful.
"Don't feel bad if people remember you only when they need you. Feel privileged that you are like a candle that comes to their mind when there is darkness."
There are signs to suicidal ideation/behavior, some of which we see much too often and turn a blind eye to because it is 2018 and everyone wants to "mind their own business", no. Just no. Ask questions, be there for each other. If you know someone who is going through a crisis, BE THERE.
Signs and Symptoms of suicidal ideations:
Talking about wanting to die
Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no real reasons to live
Making plans on how to kill themselves. Such as, searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
Talking about great guilt or shame
Feeling trapped or like there are no solutions to their problems
Feeling like a burden to others
EXCESSIVE use of alcohol or drugs more often
Anxiousness or agitation
Distancing from friends and family
Change in eating/sleeping patterns
Talking about risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
Thinking or talking openly about death often
Visible mood swings
Giving away important possesions
Saying goodbye to friends and family
Putting affairs in order, such as making a will
(Risk factors and Warning Signs acquired via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
In 2017, I'm sure most if not all of you heard about the tragic, saddening suicide (by hanging) by an 8-year-old boy named Gabriel Taye. An 8-year-old boy was bullied to the point where he committed suicide. Just last week, on June 5, 2018, Kate Spade committed suicide. Three days later, Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, on June 8, 2018. A few weeks ago, Willow Smith admitted to her mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, that she self-harmed (cutting her own wrists). Jada Pinkett Smith actually just admitted a few hours ago that she too contemplated suicide at one point. My heart hurts for the family and friends of those who have committed suicide and hope they one day find peace again.
If we don't listen to one another and help each other get out of these slumps, and seek help, the suicide rates will continue to sky rocket. We cannot wait until tragedy strikes to talk about the importance of mental health. Mental health is not going anywhere, and I will say it till I have no voice. Talking and listening can mend so many things.
If you've read this far again, I appreciate it so much and would love feedback. If you've suffered or are suffering from suicidal ideations, reach out to someone. Believe that someone WILL be willing to listen. Somewhere, someone is always trying to listen. You just have to reach out and that is absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed of. If you've attempted suicide and were unsuccessful, as many people have been, I hope it showed you how beautiful life can be. Time can be tough man, but everything always finds its way. Do not give up.
"All of life is peaks and valleys. Don't let the peaks get too high and the valley's too low." - John Wooden