Working with Alters

The time to talk about suicide and dissociative identity disorder (DID) is now. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in adults. For those with dissociative identity disorder (DID), the Cleveland Clinic asserts that 70 percent of sufferers, more than any other mental health condition, have tried to die by suicide. Discussion of suicidality is no longer optional. It is imperative that we end its stigma and discuss it now. There are 12 coping strategies and skills you can use to help those who are suffering and wanting to die by suicide. What specifically can those with DID do to help themselves and their headmates cope with the overwhelming desire to end their pain? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
If living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) is not challenging enough, it can be even more difficult and imposing when learning your system might include opposite-gender alters.
I have been asked recently, "Can I voluntarily give myself dissociative identity disorder?"  For most of us with dissociative identity disorder (DID), our first reaction is to wonder why anyone would ever want to develop a disorder that can be so challenging, if not debilitating. The truth is, however, I have shockingly come across individuals inquiring how they can develop the disorder. Well, the answer to whether you can voluntarily give yourself DID is unequivocal.
Do you know how many alters your system contains? Can you ever really know how many parts you have?
Alter switching and dissociative identity disorder (DID) are interdependent. The term "'switching" means simply to change, but, in reference to DID, it means to change a part, an alter, or a headmate, as they are called. Everyone has parts that comprise his or her personality. You might have remarked before, "Part of me really wants to improve my health." For someone to reference a single part of their personality is normal, but for those of us with DID, we experience more extreme parts of ourselves that have their own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, wishes, needs, etc. The switching of these parts is difficult, jarring, and disconcerting. If you have DID or know someone with DID, it is important to understand the signs of when someone with dissociative identity disorder is switching alters and what you can do.
Do we need to remember and process all traumatic memories in order to heal from dissociative identity disorder (DID)?  When it comes to the complicated disorder of DID, there frequently are more questions than there are answers, and the explanation of the above question is no less difficult.  Before I provide an answer, it is important to understand the way our emotional traumatic memories work and what it actually means to process and heal from them.
Managing dissociation when you have dissociative identity disorder (DID) is easier when you feel safe and secure. When the system feels safe, it is easier to function more effectively. But what happens when the environment changes and all of a sudden, that sense of safety is gone? Is it still possible to manage dissociation when you don't have a secure environment to live in?
Taking responsibility is a major factor in a dissociative identity disorder (DID) system. No matter how one views a DID system -- as individual entities sharing one body, or as a single person with multiple parts -- how to take responsibility for actions and behaviors of alters or parts within the DID system is important. Should each part be held accountable for his or her own actions, or should it be the responsibility of the DID system as a whole?
Is it true that one dissociative identity disorder (DID) headmate can kill another headmate? Every DID system is different, including the way the headmates address conflict and the dislike amongst each other. It is not uncommon for parts to dislike a headmate in their system. Some systems believe that it is possible and permissible to kill a DID headmate if they pose a threat to other alters or the system as a whole. Some might feel that it would just be easy if "X" headmate or "Y" part did not exist and that killing the headmate would be easier. Given the discord among many headmates, is it possible for one headmate to kill another headmate?
Coping with internal conflicts in dissociative identity disorder (DID) when parts disagree with you or each other is an important DID coping skill. After all, relationships can be difficult. Occasionally, people have arguments with friends and loved ones which causes friction and disagreements. Often, the same challenges present themselves within the systems of those with DID. Parts can experience friction and conflict and have arguments with other members of the system. Without working to understand and meet the needs of other parts, an internal conflict in DID can ensue while each alter attempts to have his or her own wants met.