Suicide, Is There Another Alternative?
Can You Hear the Silence?
It is rarely discussed and always looming. It comes with a stereotype, a stigma, a “type”. Perhaps threats or past behaviors were overlooked. Perhaps the signs were staring you right in the eye. Whatever the case may be, suicide will leave an impact on all those associated with it. Every. Single. Time.
Suicide prevention and awareness month is far more than simply spewing some textbook “signs to look for” at you. It’s a reminder to look around you and see what others don’t want to see themselves -what the ordinary person will look right past. It’s the gentle nudge to read between the lines, be kind to a stranger or go out of your way to open dialogue in someone who may be struggling.
Ann-Marie T. was kind enough to share the very tragic story of her nephew’s suicide with us during the month of September – Suicide awareness and prevention month. She tells us,
“There was no note. But the signs were all there. It’s actually kind of sad when your family thinks ‘it’s only a matter of time’ before the realization of this tragedy does happen. He struggled with mental health issues and addiction. His motto would always be ‘I’m still standing’ because he lived through a ton of accidents and near-death experiences. We don’t know the real reason why he ended his life but we do believe it was partly due to the relationship he was in with this girl. He died by the trigger he pulled to his forehead. He called his mom (my sister) before and left her this message, ’ I am sorry and I love you.’ But she never got the message. Once my sister was told that they needed to talk to her about her son…she already knew because a mother always knows. She is now a recovered alcoholic, successful business owner and runs a Facebook group for mental health with 138K followers.”
Why would anyone come to the conclusion that suicide will solve their problems?
It is difficult to comprehend why someone would feel so unwell that they would actually end their life. It is so final and so permanent. Suicide is often referred to as a “permanent solution to a temporary problem” and a large portion of suicide prevention strategies emphasize this concept. Ultimately, there are so, so many reasons why a person may develop the notion that suicide is the solution to their particular problem(s).
Suicidal risk factors may include:
Relationships – divorce, breakups, broken friendships, rumors amongst peers, bullying, LGBTQ association, loss of someone close
Substance abuse or access and/or exposure to illegal substances
Physical health – chronic medical conditions including chronic pain or traumatic brain injury Mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or conduct disorder
History of trauma or abuse
Access to firearms or lethal weapons
Gender – men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide (www.nami.org)
Job or financial loss/constraint
The stigma associated with asking for help
Housing status – foreclosure, eviction, homelessness
Cultural or religious beliefs that suicide is a noble resolution to a personal dilemma
Of course, these risk factors really only skim the surface of why suicide might be considered or carried out. What’s rather difficult about determining the risks for suicide is that a risk factor for
one person might not be the same for another. Stress and complex emotions affect each person uniquely and so it is difficult to identify a specific event or situation as carrying a risk for suicide. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, suicide “most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition.”
How do we help?
“Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives”…per Project Semicolon, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide.
As a semicolon is a punctuation used to communicate to the reader that the author has more to expound on and that this is not the end of the sentence. At Embrace Therapy, we invite you to own your story, to be the author and to know that no matter how dark you may be experiencing the world, you can still use a semicolon to signify that there can be more on the other side.
Please read our follow up blog on questions and answers on suicide!