I became suicidal while on active duty in the Army. What happened next was a classic example of how not to help a suicidal person.
It’s news that leaves you morose–Robin Williams, the comedian and actor who brought us Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams, is dead from an apparent suicide. The news made me reflect on my battle with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and my own thoughts of suicide. There are three lessons to learn – know when to ask for help, keep on seeking help, and always remember that suicide is often a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I was diagnosed with severe mental illness while I was a sophomore in college. I was suicidal, which prompted an emergency psychiatric evaluation. Unfortunately, it also prompted eviction from the dorm and suspension from school. I later got the director of the counseling center to admit–on the record–that the policy was more for the benefit of other students than the suicidal student. It was not the most compassionate of policies. So how can colleges and universities help students with mental illness?
Mental health professionals often say to never ignore suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. Unfortunately, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are one of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). It gives rise to the question “Should I always take suicidal thoughts and gestures seriously when the person has BPD?”
Regardless of whether it has pagan or Catholic origins, Halloween is a time of year to remember the dead. For example, my church takes a moment to remember our members who have died – two of them by suicide. So, in honor of Halloween or All Saints Day or whatever you call it, here are the life lessons I’ve learned from death.
Yesterday, The Indianapolis Star posted an article, complete with picture, about a man who attempted to commit suicide by having the police shoot him. One man, Robert Schiele, commented on the Star’s Facebook page:
“It’s nice that at least he apparently didn’t want to take anyone with him. I’ll give him props for that. But if he just wanted to die, he could’ve killed himself easily enough without wasting taxpayer dollars by getting police involved. Maybe he’s really not suicidal at all? Could just be hoping for a ‘reality show’ deal?”
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