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Let’s Talk About Suicide and Save Lives (Trigger Warning)

We need to stop the stigma of suicide to save lives. Otherwise, more people could buy a gun, put the barrel in their mouths and pull the trigger. Wrap a noose around their neck and push out the stool. Jump off a bridge into frigid water. Jump off of a building. Lay down on a train track. Purposefully inject themselves with a lethal dose of heroin. Take an entire bottle of certain prescription medications. There are tens of ways that people succeed at suicide every day.  But how often do you hear about the awful truth? We must talk about the suicide, suicidal ideation and ways to end them to save lives.

If you are considering suicide, please call The National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.

Talking About Suicide Scares Us, But It’s No Excuse

Talking about suicide can save lives and end mental illness stigma. If we can teach that it's okay to talk about suicide, more people will - and they won't die.Suicide. The word itself sends shivers down our spines.  Suicide.  Nearly everyone is uncomfortable saying it, and nearly everyone is terrified of hearing it. Suicide.

But maybe if we weren’t so scared of talking about suicide, it wouldn’t happen at a rate of over one million suicides in the world per year, according to the World Health Organization. That means that every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide.  The number of suicide attempts is incalculable, but one can assume, is astronomically high.

By the time you finish reading this article, at least two people in the world will have made the ultimate decision: the most definitive decision that anyone could ever make. You’d think that this would be something that we would be able to talk about openly now. But, we don’t. Or can’t, due to mental illness stigma.

I Want My Suicide Attempt to Help End Stigma, So I Talk About It

I attempted suicide when I was 15 (Reasons for Suicide: When Your Brain Lies to You).  I didn’t start talking openly about it until a year ago, another fifteen years later.  Still, a part of me squirms and screams from the inside out when I actually say it out loud or even type the words on my laptop. But why?

When I attempted suicide, I was hospitalized in a medical hospital to treat the overdose and then hospitalized in a youth psychiatric hospital to assess my mental state. Therefore, I missed quite a lot of time in school. But I had a story. My parents had a story. My brother probably had a story. I wouldn’t doubt that my dog even had a story.

Almost everyone has a story when it comes to suicide. Why don’t we tell it more often?

Have you ever read an honest obituary about someone who succeeded at suicide?  I haven’t. No one wants to admit that someone they knew killed themselves. Everyone is ashamed. Everyone is embarrassed. The stigma surrounding suicide, and mental illness as a whole, must end. We must tell what we know about suicides. We must tell our suicide stories to end the secrecy and shame about discussing the thought of ending our lives, let alone the sad truth about the suicides of people we’ve loved.

Suicide Happens, Every 40 Seconds, And There’s A Lot We Can Do

It’s time to step up and speak out.  People commit suicide every forty seconds of every single day and there are likely thousands contemplating it at this very second.  And we need to stop pushing it under the rug.

We need to start talking about each and every single case.  We need to get better at noticing the warning signs of suicide. We need to better protect those who display suicidal ideation. We need trained mental health counselors in schools who can better spot the warning signs. We need to more carefully monitor the elderly for signs of major depression. We need public education campaigns about depression and suicide. We need more access to emergency psychiatric care.  We need to lessen the fear of asking for help.

We have a lot of work to do.

But before we can do any of these things, we have to get over our fear of the word.

Suicide.

Talk about suicide today with someone you know.  And in a few days, talk about it again.  A few days after that, talk about it to someone else.  Those people will be more willing to talk about suicide in the future merely because you were brave enough to do it. Eventually, we will eliminate the stigma of suicide so we can begin to work on the solution – the wonderful alternatives to pulling a trigger.

If you are considering suicide, please call The National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.

The Completely in Blue website is here. Chris is also on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

24 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Suicide and Save Lives (Trigger Warning)”

  1. This is great information for teen suicides. Sadly, a high percentage of adult suicides are successful on the first attempt. Why? Because they’ve successfully covered the symptoms for a very long time. Because they have often taught themselves not to feel any more. Because they feel so unnecessary that they’ve gone to great lengths to ensure their success, never considering the fact that there are people who care about them and would listen if they needed to talk. The trouble is, they’ve gone beyond the point where they can see it or even consider it. The worst part is, because we are so often admonished to recognize the signs of suicide, the survivors, those family members and friends who are left behind are often made to feel responsible for failing to notice signs which were never really there!

    1. Hi Sheri, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      I have to disagree with you though when you say that people who experience suicidal ideation don’t consider people who care about them. Having been suicidal myself, how my death would have affected others was largely on my mind all the time, but through my sickness I reasoned they would be better off without me. I discuss it a bit in terms of suicide being perceived as selfish in a blog I wrote for HealthyPlace last year, but it still applies. (You can check it out here if you’d like: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2016/04/suicide-and-the-selfishness-stigma)

      My sickness also said talking to others would be a burden, so it’s not something I was about to do. The way suicide and mental illness are treated in society contributes to that, too. It’s not to say everyone does this, but mental illness is often shown to be a weakness or bothersome to people, so when we already have that in our heads, the sickness is able to wrap itself around it and amplify it.

      I agree with you that it’s awful for those left behind to be made to feel responsible for the death of a loved one. I can partially agree with you about the signs, because sometimes they’re not there. No one knew I was suicidal because I was able to hide it so well, and many of us are really good at that, but I think what this blog is saying is that we need to discuss suicide more openly so it’s not such a taboo subject anymore and to foster a larger consensus that it’s okay to not only have but also to speak about these issues. Having more conversations about mental illness and suicide helps bring about a better understanding of what they are and what people are going through, which can ultimately help counteract the way people respond to it, including those of us going through it.

  2. i just spent over 7 years raising someone elses kids which happens to be my brothers kids and i was there as a father and an uncle just to find out that i never had a chance and i already accepted the fact that i can never get what i want and that i will remain single all because i am not tall nor do i really have any money and i couldnt kill myself due to the simple fact that if i did it. what makes me think my nephews and nieces wouldnt do it afterwards so for them i am still breathing

  3. Plain and simple: we do not have the right to end our own lives. God who made us does. And it goes against the Fifth Commandment; Thou Shalt not Kill.

    1. Hi Marianne,

      Unfortunately, it’s not so plain and simple as you think. Whether you believe in God and the commandments or not, it doesn’t change the fact that people die by suicide. Suicidal ideation goes beyond reason and religion. It goes beyond fairness and anything else you can think of. I didn’t write this blog post, but I’ve written about suicide and stigma, and I’ve felt the effects of both since I was once suicidal as well.

      For me, believing in God did stop me for a long time, but I never understood why God would want me to suffer so much. Faith wasn’t enough to heal my sick brain and for many that’s also the case. Wanting to end your own life is 100 per cent and internal battle and most of the time nothing external can change that. Condemning a person for wanting to end his life or someone who has ended their life based on your own religious beliefs only adds to the stigma that someone who does either is abhorrant, unredeemable, and in a way bad. I implore you to look beyond your religion and see the people themselves, which I believe is what this blog is getting at. We all have a story. We all have a thought process that you may not understand which leads us to considering death over life, but we are still people and we still deserve compassion.

      -Laura

  4. Due to individual life experiences, etc, that can negatively impact one’s life and dominate their thoughts, I believe sometimes we lose sight of what really important. Love.

  5. I have thought of suicide my entire like when I was little probably around 9 yrs old to now, I was brought up in a good home but I just feel different from everybody, but when I was maybe 12 yrs old my brother 4 yrs older then me attempted suicide with a twelve gage shotgun too his stomach he didn’t die at that time because he was heaven at that time, and what I seen my parents go through at that time I didn’t want to put them through it again, but I wanted to do it and then I was 17 my sister shot send thetic Demerol and she died she was 24yrs old but I don’t think she meant to kill herself I think she was doing it to get a high from it but really don’t know for sure thou, and believe me I really wanted to go then we where really close!! And after that life just fell apart, mom and dad got a divorce after 31yrs of marriage and some how I keep living now I only have a older brother we are eleven yrs apart and we are not real close and I have my mother left, my father passed away two days before my 45th bd and five days after that the day we buried my dad my brother hung himself he finally did it, I have tried too stay strong but every day I think about it but I have a husband that doesn’t understand about suicide and I have a beautiful daughter that I feel like I missed her up some how, she not on drugs and she don’t drink a lot but she had a baby when she was 17 and we have been more or less raising him tell he was 3yrs old then she moved out and got a condo for 1000 a month rent which we told her it was to high in rent and to far to drive she don’t listen she had a nice clean cut boyfriend not the baby’s daddy a different one but he had a ok job but he was real good to her and my grandchild but fell out of love with him after 7 months and my grandchild loved him he was even calling him daddy, so that just broke my heart I thought she finally got a good man and she would be ok but I was wrong, so not after a month she meets a kid she went to school with two years younger and has tattoos everywhere all over his hands and arms everywhere!! I don’t mind tattoos but his were bad look like he just got out of prison, well anyway her lease was up so she moved back home to save some money up so she could buy a house, so we me and my husband went too Arizoina for the winter and we told her we did not want him too be in our house while we where gone well he was, three months we where gone and she gets pregnant so now she has two children with two different dads and my oldest grandchild is calling him daddy and now he the boyfriend is gone she don’t want him any more, so now my oldest grandchild is upset that he is gone, but before we got back from AZ which was four months my daughter moves out into apartment, the guy she was with was just using her really but I’m glad she is not with him any more but I just feel so bad for the children, so now she is trying to buy a house again, so all the time we are watching our grandchildren while she is at work, she has terrible hours she works 2-10 Wednesday through Saturday and Wednesday & Thursday the dads get to see there kids from 4-8pm and every other weekend they get to spend the night with them, so we go too her apartment so her kids aren’t out at 10:30 at night, we walk into her place and it looks like a storm went through it dirty dishes all over, and we did not raise her like that, it just kills me to think my grandkids live like that, I’m not in good health I’m 160 pounds over weight I’ve got bad knees they need replaced but I’m to heavy and I had two back fusions and my husband is twenty one yrs older then me but he is in a lot better shape then me but if I was in better shap I would take them kids away from her, but because of my husband and daughter and my grandkids and my mother that’s the only thing that is keeping me alive, but each day gets harder and harder to stay alive I’m drowning. Sorry about the spelling!

  6. My grandfather, who I loved with all of my heart, committed suicide at the age of 80! He was in good health, but suffered from occasional intense migraines and depression. He came from an abusive childhood. His suicide has affected our family for generations. ~ Beth

  7. I hate feeling like this. I won’t try it because I’m not brave enough and it would destroy my mother. Besides, it may sound stupid, but I’m afraid of going to hell. Jesus is the main reason I’m still here.

  8. I have watched 6 family members die by overdose and suicide. The last was a niece this last November. All of them finally broke me and I dont work and sit at home. I reach out online to those that come to me and ask for help. Suicide will continue as long as the society stays the way it is. Look at it? Society is the reason it is not talked about and society is the reason it wont go away. We all have a responsibility when a suicide happens. If your a family member or a friend you failed in your relationship somewhere and the thing is we need to change the way we treat people then we will finally gain ground on suicide. Every 40 seconds someone commits suicide. Every 40 seconds we fail at a responsibility we to that person. Its a sad but true tale.

  9. Completely support this article, but I wish there had been a trigger warning before being confronted by the first paragraph.

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