In honor of National Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10) and week (Sept. 8-14), we wanted to share some of the helpful articles and resources we’ve identified through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). This is a tough week for survivors because we have experienced the terrible tragedy of losing a loved one to suicide. Many of us feel if there was ANYTHING we could have done to prevent our friend or family member from taking their lives, we would have done it. At the same time, I think it’s very obvious to say that we don’t want anyone to ever have to go through this pain, so we can join forces with the AFSP and other organizations, even in spirit, to help prevent anyone from pursuing suicide as an option in their lives.
One fact that struck me as I perused the AFSP’s website is that “More than 90% of people who take their own life have at least one and often more than one treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.” This is a double-edged statistic for survivors of suicide. On one hand, reading this makes me feel like the suicide we experienced could possibly have been prevented had we (or my dad) pushed to treat the depression, anxiety or other issues he was facing. Is there something more we could have done? Did we miss the signs? On the other hand, it can be very difficult for the person affected, or even a loved one, to truly know or identify that this is a force in their lives. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a perceived weakness in our society for those who reach out for help. I applaud those who are doing what they can to help people get the support they need and eliminate the unnecessary stigma. I recently learned about an organization in the Chicagoland area called No Stigmas. Their mission is to raise awareness and erase the stigmas about suicide and mental illness by sharing stories of hope and inspiration, educating the general public about mental health and helping those affected by mental illness. They have formed an online forum that provides low-to-no cost support for anyone who needs it. As I wrote in my last blog entry, it is my wish that everyone feel comfortable about reaching out for help when they need it.
I thought it might be beneficial to share some of the other suicide myths vs. facts, as outlined by the AFSP. The bottom line: they report many suicides can be prevented through intervention, approaching your loved one about their thoughts and encouraging treatment. Hindsight is an ugly beast for survivors. Personally, I don’t feel like there were any signs I could have reacted to. I was blindsided by my dad’s death. Aside from the fact that he told me as a child, “there’s nothing so bad in life that you can’t come to your family to discuss,” I just never would have thought he had that kind of thinking in him. But, we can all strive to open our eyes and ears in support of not only ourselves (who may be battling our own depression), but those around us.
Please know that we are thinking of everyone who has considered or been touched by suicide this week – and always. Do not be afraid to reach out for help!
If you or someone you know might be considering suicide, seek help as soon as possible by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
November 23, 2013 is recognized as International Survivors of Suicide Day. We will be sure to share an overview of events and online resources you can follow leading up to that time.
Image courtesy of StayClassy.org.