Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September is Suicide Prevention Month

My dad
I know more about suicide than I care to know. I was 7 years old when my father committed suicide. He was an alcoholic and he thought, in his mind, he was doing us a favor. The truth is he only ended his own pain. Mine has lasted a lifetime.

Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States? It is the second most common cause of death in adolescents. Caucasian men over the age of 80 have a high suicide rate. More men commit suicide, but more women attempt it. It is a world wide crisis.

In ancient Athens a person who committed suicide was denied a normal burial. It was illegal to commit suicide in most Western Countries until after the 1800's. I'm not sure how they penalized the person who accomplished this task.

In almost all forms of Christianity, suicide is considered a sin. This is based upon the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill." However it is also believed that mental illness or great fear of suffering diminishes the responsibility of one who accomplishes suicide. I feel that God is the only judge. He will judge. Not I. He will forgive!

Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. There is a campaign, Take 5 To Save Lives, that is doing the job of helping people take five minutes to become informed and involved in saving lives. The campaign lists five steps we can take right away to save lives. The first step is to know the warning signs:

Warning Signs for Suicide Can Include:
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Isolation
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Extreme self-denial, lack of pleasure
  • Extreme self-hatred
  • Feelings of not belonging
  • Thinking of self as a burden to others
  • Sudden positive mood change
  • Suicidal talk
 
My dad often talked about killing himself. My mom tried to get help for him. She was repeatedly told this: "People who threaten to commit suicide often do not. They just are seeking attention." I am here to tell you that is NOT TRUE! Those very people, who told her those words, had to live with that after he died. But that was during a time when suicide was not talked about. It was not understood. And we did not know how to help those seeking help.
 
If you or someone you know is in crisis or in need of immediate help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free hotline available 24 hours a day to anyone in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.
 
I hope everyone will take five minutes today to educate themselves on suicide and what you might be able to do to save someone's life. A person who has exhibited all the symptoms of depression and self-hated and suddenly has a shift to a positive mood is at the greatest risk. It does not mean they have changed their mind. It means they have decided all the details and now have a plan to commit the act. Will you help? Will you take the steps needed to educate yourself today?

18 comments:

  1. I am so sorry about your dad, Paula. I don't think suicide is an unforgiveable sin in God's eyes; but I do know it is something that causes a lot of guilt for those that are left behind, wondering if they could have prevented it, etc. My daughter spent the majority of her teen years suicidal, very depressed (we tried to do everything we could for her, therapy, meds, etc). Every time she threatened suicide, I watched her like a hawk; she came with me everywhere, she couldn't have her bedroom door closed, etc. The time I thought she was safe and I left her home to take her brother to a doctor's appt was the time she took an overdose of pills. Thankfully other than an upset stomach, she was okay, but it was then that I knew there was no way I could personally keep her safe unless I watched her 24/7 so had to make the painful decision not to have her come back to live with us after her hospitalization (she was over 18). The good news, as hard as it was, was that she finally got recognized as being high risk (something I had fought for a long time to get her services, etc) and was able to finally get the help she needed.

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry Betty for what you went through. Sometimes the hardest thing we can do for our own sanity is to let them go. I think if someone is bent on suicide there is not going to be much we can do except try to get them the help they need. Usually it is next to impossible to force someone to get help. Dealing with our guilt afterwards is about all we will be able to do. Thank you so much for sharing this. There is so much that binds us together, isn't there? I am glad that your daughter finally received the help she needed. I can't imagine what that was like for you! Hugs

      Delete
  2. Paula: I am so sorry for what your father and your family went through. You have given some good information about awareness. Awareness can lead to intervention and then a life can be saved. I must say that I'm with you on who gets to be the final judge. We have a lot to deal with as humans, don't we?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes we do! Thanks for stopping by today. Hopefully people can become more aware!

      Delete
  3. Lots in here I never knew. Thank you for sharing ... and for the challenge. I may share these 'Warning Signs' with our leadership team at this morning's line-up.

    All these years later, I don't doubt for a moment your father's death is less painful. 7 years old seems such a vulnerable time in a person's life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was very young that is for sure! Myra, I have always wondered what is it that you do? You can send me a private email if you would like.

      Delete
  4. A very very close family member has attempted twice. Both times they lay on life support for a week at hospital but survived. I told them that God has a purpose for them and its not up to them when they're last day on earth will be. I struggle with understanding and the thought of "what if". It is so painful!! I am so sorry your life took such a sad turn as just as a child. Thank you for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I struggle with it too Holli! I struggle with whether it is all right? will they be forgiven and be in Heaven? So many unanswered questions for my dad...and for God!

      Delete
  5. Paula....I'm so sorry you had to go through this - and at such a young age!
    My boss (that I had worked for for 10 years) - spent time with him and his family - went to lunch with him often - killed himself. This happened over 28 years ago or more - but it still affects me to this day. I started sleeping with a night light on the night I heard the news. And I haven't stopped since..... It is so hard on the people left behind. He was the LAST person you would ever have thought would do something like this.... but you just never really know what is going on inside someone....

    Linda in VA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the irony of it all. Their pain is gone. But they leave behind people who can never forget. Thanks for sharing Linda.

      Delete
  6. You're so right about the sudden shift to a good mood. My ex's aunt was suffering severe depression then suddenly one day she was happy and said she was feeling much better. Then she started giving things away as "gifts". This was a sign that she had resolved to ending her life and was at peace with the decision. She did just that.
    Depression is such a horrible disease. Many people silently suffer from it as they don't tell others. It's critical to be educated about the signs.
    Great blog post Paula.
    Michele at Angels Bark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Michele. I remember learning that while I was in nursing school: the shift from severe depression to a positive mood is the worst sign. You must take action then!

      Delete
  7. It is interesting to see how many things to detect on a suicidal. This is great information, however, I am so very sorry you learned all this hard way. I had a friend who was Catholic, and she was not allowed to be buried in the "regular" part of the cemetery. There was a "special" part secluded for suicides. Sad, the shame it brought on the family was worse. That is sad too considering the family is the one suffering the loss as you well put. Again, very sorry, but this is great information to remember Paula.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I screwed my link up above, but that is ok... you know who I am ;)

      Delete
    2. It is okay if you screw up your link. I will always know you!!! That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard not to allow your friend to be buried in the regular part of the cemetery. I had a preacher tell me (and this was when I was just a child) that my dad would not go to heaven because he had broken one of the 10 commandments! Stupid Ass!!

      Delete
  8. The whole "they're only threatening it to gain attention" is not accepted anymore. If someone threatens it, it's likely to happen, so take it seriously.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I do understand the mindset of a suicidal person. I've been there. It's hard to get out of, but it is possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is good that it is no longer accepted. Because obviously they were wrong. I am very happy you have gotten out of that mindset Liz!! Stay strong!

      Delete
  9. Hi Paula - I've experienced it close at hand and the symptoms ... such a difficult mental disease to help. Though this is a great post - full of pathos, and such useful information ... taking time and understanding others can help so much. We see it in the blogging world and there is a lot of empathy here ...

    Well done on highlighting this so often disastrous thought process for so many - Hilary

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear what you might think. Leave me a comment. I guarantee though that I will delete your comment if you are just here to cause trouble. So tread lightly!