In recognition of Mental Health Month, please take a moment to read Kim Bayne’s article in which she shares her father’s struggle with an untreated mental illness.
The subject of suicide has long been viewed as taboo, something that is swept under the carpet not to be talked about. WHY? It only hurts those who are suffering because they feel as though they have nowhere to turn because they will be shunned. Why do we want to make them feel worse than they already do? They already suffer in silence…we need to break that silence, for those who have died by suicide and those who attempted but are still here as well as though those who are in desperate need of help.
This needs to be brought to the light! We need to bring awareness to everyone, that this is something that can be prevented. All we have to do is know the signs, know the statistics, be open to listening and caring.
When my dad took his life, it was swept under the carpet. It was not something that was spoken about. He suffered in silence for most of his life, his depression had gone untreated/undiagnosed. Back when he was growing up it was, “Suck it up and be a man” or, “you’re not allowed to have those feelings.” Why do we tell someone that, especially someone who is reaching out? How much more must one suck up? That is the problem, the feelings have been sucked up for so long they don’t have any place to go, so they finally reach out, only to have their hand smacked away.
The Christian view of suicide is whoever takes their own life will burn in the fires of hell, because of the 6th Commandment it states Thou shall not murder and technically suicide is the murder of self. But, who are we to judge what a person is thinking and or feeling at the time of the taking of their life, we are supposed to be caring and loving individuals. We are supposed to help those in need and if those in need reach out and no one helps or doesn’t know the signs does that make us an accessory to murder? It is easy to point the finger at the one who actually committed the act, but we must take responsibility for our role as well.
Some important facts about Mental Health and Suicide:
- Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death
- Suicide does not discriminate.
- Most tend to share certain characteristics:
- Mental disorders
- Substance abuse
- Family history of depression or mental health disorders
- Family history of suicide
- Physical and/or sexual abuse
- Being bullied
- Stressful life
- Suicidal behaviors can also be triggered by events of tragedy:
- The sudden loss of a loved one
- Men are more likely to attempt or die by suicide than women
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in young people, especially teenagers.
- 30,000 people die each year from suicide that is an alarming rate of 1 person every 16 minutes. 500,000 people attempt suicide.
- There is 1 suicide for every 25 attempts.
- Suicide rates are the highest in the springtime: The reason seems to be during the winter months, nature seems to match the mood of a depressed person. It also seems as though there is a paradoxical response to the sunshine. The sun can actually give those who’ve felt fatigued or depressed by the lack of the sunshine enough energy to plan and or carry out a suicide, but not enough energy to give them a lift in mood.
- 8 out of 10 people contemplating suicide will or have given some sign of their intentions. Those who talk of suicide or threaten suicide are 30 times more likely to actually do it. So don’t dismiss what they say.
- The rate of suicide has increased by 30% in the last 10 years, that is an alarming rate and one that should not be dismissed.
Ways that You can help
- Do not dismiss a person who may speak of suicide
- Follow your instincts, if you feel as though they may follow through get them help.
- Listen to them, let them talk or vent, be there for them. They are reaching out and need you. Find out as much information as you can about not only their intent but find out if they already have a plan in place. The more information you have the better you are to help them.
- Never leave a suicidal person alone.
- Do not be judgmental, the last thing this person needs is someone giving them a hard time or judging them harshly.
- Love them! Show them that you care and that are willing to do whatever is necessary to help them.
- If you feel as though it is an extremely dangerous situation call 911
- If they have a therapist, call them, if they don’t, find one for them and make an appointment. Make sure they do not miss the appointment, go with them if you have too.
- Keep close tabs on them, call them regularly, stop by to see them, take them out and spend time with them.
Depression can be a silent and very debilitating illness. We must remember, however, that depression is not the only contributing factor to suicide. A person may not be depressed or have a mental illness, but may be so stressed out that they feel there is no other way out of a situation they feel stuck in or threatened by. Some may actually feel as though the world and those around them would be better off if they were no longer around. Suicide is NOT a selfish act!
The suicidal person is not suicidal to get attention, they are suicidal because they are so overwhelmed they feel there is no other way. Do not take a suicide personally, it usually has nothing to do with you or anyone, just that person…in their mind. They aren’t doing it to hurt anyone or cause anyone pain. Compassion and kindness go a long way.
Let’s STOP this today!