Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2015 Nancy Virden
Let’s talk. Please.
Suicide is not rare, nor is it contagious. It’s deadly, yes, but more so when the topic is stifled and shamed.
Suicide can be a scary conversation and perhaps easier to avoid than to face. It is often hidden under platitudes, false accusations, and silence.
Here are some MYTHS that stymie even the most open and willing supports.
MYTH 1) Mentioning suicide will give a hurting person the idea. No, everyone is aware suicide is an option. Bringing it up in concern allows the one in pain to see life is valued, especially his or her own.
MYTH 2) Suicide is motivated by selfishness. I know dozens of people who have attempted or at least thought about committing suicide. Each one who has shared a bit of their story with me has expressed love for others and not wanting to hurt anyone. It is very difficult to cognitively grasp truth when pain is all one can see.
MYTH 3)Suicide is for losers. Well, anyone of us who deals or has dealt with suicidal friends and loved ones would disagree. Those who have lost significant people to suicide would also disagree. The brain is an organ, and as such can have physical complications. We understand so little about it and how it works. What we do know is that brilliant, loving, and loved people die by suicide every day and it is tragic.
MYTH 4) Many of us do not know anyone who struggles with suicidal thoughts. Sorry, that’s most likely wrong. With one suicide every 18 minutes just in the U.S., it is not uncommon. Suicidal ideas are even more so. It is estimated that 25% of American youth think seriously about suicide; some of these are young children. Why haven’t we heard about more suicide deaths? Because it is a secret. Few talk about it, remember?
MYTH 5) People who talk about feeling suicidal do not follow through. This is a very dangerous misunderstanding. Most completed suicides are committed by those who have talked about it in weeks prior.
MYTH 6) No one other than experts can stop a suicide. While suicidal (and before), one’s head is full of negativity. Depression-fueled lies of worthlessness, hopelessness, fear of no change, overwhelming sense of loss and the like can be combated by outside perspectives. Kind voices, not panicky and accusatory, are a reprieve from the battle in one’s brain. Almost any kind of positive action may make a difference. Ultimately, there is always 9.1.1 to call.
Today’s blog is inspired by two people in my corner of the world who, just this week, struggled with suicidal thoughts and let me know about it. A third contacted one of my friends. Why is this so frequent? Because I and most of my friends are very open about suicide and our stories.
Openness draws to us those who are hurting because often they have nowhere else to go. Of course, I am not a mental health professional and do not offer therapy. What I can do is listen and remind those who suffer that help is available and they deserve to get it.
Compassionate love talks about it. Will you?
For a brief training on what to say to someone you think may be considering suicide, go to http://www.qprinstitute.com
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
*picture from qualitystockphotos.com