World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

Ruby

Trigger Warning:  As indicated by the title, this post discusses suicide.  Not graphically, and not in detail, but if the topic is especially triggering to you, you may want to make the choice not to read on.

Today is 10 September 2015, a day that has been designated World Suicide Prevention Day by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).  I know that this is a very frightening subject for so many people, with or without mental illness, to talk about.  But do you know what I think is even more frightening than discussing suicide?  Not discussing suicide.

So many people suffer from so many things that make them feel they are alone, and that there is only one solution to their problems, one that can never be undone.  And the more we talk about these things, and the feelings of hopelessness they may bring — openly, sensitively, frankly, and with no shame or shaming — the less alone they will feel.  I love so very much this representation that I found:

One hand holding on to another.  One human telling another human that they aren’t alone.  One person sharing their strength and understanding with another person.

A former Canvas contributor, Alice, wrote the following to me in an email as we discussed WSPD 2012: “It takes something from all of us when they take away themselves.”

I never wanted to post about statistics on suicide.  They may be sobering, but people are not statistics.  They are mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and sisters and brothers and best friends and children and grandparents and cousins and that guy at work who is always quiet but so very kind to you.  They are often the people you would least suspect of being that desperate and desolate.

If you are reading this and know someone about whom you are concerned, don’t wait to talk with them.  Reach out to them.  Hold out your hand.  Show them they are loved and they are not alone.  Help them to start their journey, or to continue one that may already have been going on for years.

I can’t tell you how many people may be considering taking their lives even as they are reading this.  There are no numbers on that.  It’s something we don’t know.  One thing I do know is that they need understanding and love and the knowledge that no, they aren’t alone, and yes, it can get better.  I give you my word of honor that it can, no matter how hopeless things may feel right now.  You need to reach out your hand for help, so that you have time to discover this.  Please don’t try to go through it alone.  You aren’t alone, no matter how much you may feel it.

We now have a permanent page with international Crisis resources here on Canvas.

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Your light is beautiful.  Don’t let it go out.

Note:  This post is a slightly amended version of the first piece I wrote for WSPD, in 2012.  I think it was the most difficult thing I have ever written, and I also think that it has stood the test of time, so you will understand, I trust, if I don’t make what I feel would be a futile attempt at writing another piece as fitting.

© Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds 2012-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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5 thoughts on “World Suicide Prevention Day 2015

  1. I came close to ending it three years ago this week so the date is especially important for me. It’s the desolation, the sense of loss, the sense that nothing will ever get better again that you cannot shake that you feel (at the time) that only suicide will cure.

    I walked away because I knew I’d hit rock bottom and in realising that, I knew things could not get worse – that sliver of hope that things might get better was all that sustained me in those few following weeks.

  2. Beautiful piece, Ruby, and I agree, anything else would be gilding the lily.

    I personally feel that there is a place for suicide.

    That place is for people who are suffering from untreatable terminal illnesses like ALS, or unbearable, untreatable pain conditions. Three countries in Europe have recently designated refractory, untreatable, unbearable mental illness pain as a valid condition for assisted suicide. These candidates must be evaluated by three separate psychiatrists over at least six months, so there is no possibility of it being an impulsive act. A recent study found that of the people who actually qualified (about 50%), only half of those actually took the prescribed medicine. The rest said that just knowing they had the option gave them the strength to go on living.

    That said, I would like to return to suicide prevention. The vast majority of suicides are impulsive acts. But there are people who carefully plan their “self-deliverance,” as some of the newer suicidology literature is calling it.

    Loved ones and friends, even work colleagues, should be on the lookout for the following behaviors, in people who have been unusually withdrawn, despondent, had a recent downturn in financial status, a major loss of some kind, persistent depression, diagnosis of serious illness, or other catastrophic circumstance:

    –sudden appearance of inner peace, as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. People who have hit upon a plan often look like they have suddenly recovered. They haven’t. But they feel a sense of relief, because they know they have a solid suicide plan.

    –giving away or selling prized possessions, distributing money, etc.

    –getting their personal affairs in order: making a will, distributing property…making sure everything is nice and tidy.

    These are signs of careful planning for suicide.

    If you see these signs in someone you know, please invite them for coffee, tea, a glass of wine. Have a normal conversation with them. When you feel that you have established rapport, say: “Hey, I’ve noticed you have been looking a lot happier lately. You were looking so miserable, and I didn’t know how to help. And now you seem like you’re making preparations to go somewhere. You know, it might not seem this way, but you have a whole lot of people who would miss you terribly if you went away. I myself would be devastated. Your friends, your family, your co-workers….we would miss you so, so much, because we love you, and we want you to stay home and be with us. Have you talked to anyone about your plans?”

    Just this little conversation can avert a tragedy. For a person who is planning their own exit in a careful, orderly way, just to have someone they know and trust respectfully let them know that someone cares enough to have observed what’s going on, and to actually open the topic with them, could be enough to assist that person to call off their plans and seek help.

    So please don’t hold back. Have that conversation. For a lonely suicidal person, just knowing that one person really cares could make the difference between life and death.

    I know this because I have had that conversation. And one person has called off their plans. One didn’t. And I will always wonder if there was something else I could have done to help him. But I have to realize also, that sometimes even when you try your very best to help someone, and they carry out their plan, IT ISN’T YOUR FAULT. You tried. And for people who work in suicide prevention, this is a message we must internalize. We try our best. We DO save lives. And sometimes, we lose people anyway. And that is not because we didn’t try. So we must keep on reaching out to those in need, because as Rabbi Hillel, who was Jesus’ personal rabbi, said: “If not I, then who? If not NOW, then when?” So don’t wait. Reach out and take the hand of your sisters and brothers who are suffering alone.

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