Thursday, September 15, 2016

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is personal for me. My father committed suicide when I was only 7 years old. I have lived with that my entire life. And it has given me more than one pause for concern. Suicide has affected my life in more ways that I have ever wanted to admit. It has affected the lives of my entire family. And many of them don't want to admit that it has affected them either.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. Did you know that? Many times those who attempt suicide, along with their families and  friends, are stigmatized and left to struggle with the feelings alone. When my dad died the whole town talked. Kids at school talked. And they made fun of me. It's not a good feeling. And I spent years trying to understand why my dad would rather kill himself than to live for me and my siblings. It wasn't until I was MUCH older that I began to realize he was sick. Sicker than what we knew. And had alcoholism.

While I was in nursing school we were taught to talk to someone whom we suspect are thinking about suicide. We are to ask them if they have a plan. Do you know how you are going to kill yourself? Do you know when you will kill yourself? Asking those important questions will not force someone to commit suicide. But it just might help you to prevent them from killing themselves. Do not ignore someone who tells you they are going to kill themselves. 

We need to know the warning signs:


  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social  withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

And we need to know the risk factors:



  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
  • Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
  • Access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation.
  • Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation 




  • You can read more about suicide and the help that is available on the NAMI ( National Alliance of Mental Illness) Site here.

    Also, while we are talking about suicide we need to incorporate into that talk the talk about gun violence. In this country 32,000 Americans die every year as a result of gun violence. Did you know that 2/3 of those deaths, almost 20,000 deaths, are the result of suicide? No, I didn't know that either. States which have mandated waiting periods to purchase guns have cut their suicide rates in half. Suicide is often impulsive. 

    "We know that suicide is often impulsive. According to a Harvard University School of Public Health study, 71 percent of suicide attempts happen within one hour of making the decision. And anecdotally, in interviews following unsuccessful suicide attempts, individuals almost always regret it. Over a decade ago there was a story in New Yorker about interviews with people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived – every one of them realized it was a mistake before they hit the water. But with a gun, there is no second chance."*



    All of us have the ability to educate others
    on the prevention of suicide. This is the month to do it! Stand up and help make others aware. That is all I'm asking!!

    34 comments:

    1. I don't believe waiting periods on gun purchase are a true indication of a way to stop or even slow down suicide. Your father, our father gun was a borrowed hunting rifle.

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      1. You can go to SmartGunLaws.Org and read about how many states found that suicides were reduced in their state due to a waiting period on buying a gun. It it only saves one life then it it worth having the waiting period. If it is my son or yours that wants to use a gun to kill themselves and their minds are changed as they wait to purchase their gun then it is worth it. And yes, our father's suicide didn't have anything to do with gun purchase waiting periods. But I have to wonder what would be different if people had believed him all the times he was telling everyone that he was going to do it. We have to start the conversation somewhere!

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    2. I'm so sorry about losing your father like that. How terrible of the town to talk like that. When someone is in that much emotional pain, it isn't about those that they leave behind. They're only thinking about themselves then.

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      1. Thank you Liz. But as the survivor of the one who committed suicide it sure isn't about him. It is about the ones he left behind. Too bad he was so selfish in only thinking of ending his own pain as he caused ours.

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    3. Thank you for sharing this, Paula. Having struggled with PTSD and a TBI, my son has become an advocate for veterans; and calling attention to the absurd percentage of those who take their own lives.

      Years ago we were taught, "Oh, those who talk about it are just looking for attention and wouldn't really do anything." I'm saddened that we, as a society, haven't become wiser.

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      1. That is what people told my mom when she sought help for my dad. Those who talk about it are just looking for attention and won't do it. It is a good thing she decided to take her 5 kids and leave or they would have found 7 bodies when they found his. I wish the best for your son Myra. I would love to join the battle to help those veterans!

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    4. I heard someone once say that suicide is indeed a selfish act and the family/friends left behind are filled with guilt afterwards. Years ago when my daughter was going through her very depressive times, every time she made a "threat" about wanting to kill herself, especially if she was at school, her school counselor (who was a gem and later had a son commit suicide several years after my daughter graduated), would call me to report her threats, which then I would need to go and get her. Most of the time they were "threats" but I did watch her very carefully when I thought she was at "risk." Would take her to the hospital to see if she was deemed to be a risk and admitted, etc. (she was on medicine already and seeing therapists). The sad thing is when I thought she was "healthy" and no "threat" was when she took the overdose of pills (she was okay afterwards when things "left" her system). It was then that I knew there was no way I could have her stay with us after she got out of the hospital (she was over 18) because I knew there was no way I could keep her safe unless I watched her 24/7 and knew that was impossible. Sad, but good thing, she finally got the help I had so much advocated for because she got "dumped" into the system where they had to find a place to place her for help since we said (one of the hardest things we've done) that she couldn't come back to live with us.

      And you are right, education is so key to help prevent more suicides down the road.

      betty

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      1. I'm sorry to hear what you went through with your daughter Betty! They taught us that when a person you have been concerned about committing suicide suddenly becomes 'better' that is when you should worry the most. They have made their plan! How is your daughter now?

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    5. Hi Paula - suicide affects so many as you mention. I'm so sorry to read of your father and yes it does affect families for at least two generations ...

      You're going to get some really helpful comments here - for us to understand more ... thank you for bringing up the subject - with thoughts .. Hilary

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      1. You are right Hilary. It affects many for many years after the incident!

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    6. Suicide is more prevalent than most of us realize. I worked with a youth group when my children were still at home and went to a seminar about it. It is scary just how many there are. Thank you for sharing the information, I hope it helps to save a life.

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    7. Oh your poor mother knowing what was going to probably happen and no one would listen to her. And then raising 5 children by herself. The point you made about a waiting period for guns cutting down suicide rates was a good one.

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      1. My mother did a fine job of raising 5 kids alone! I think we have to take a stand on gun laws. It has to start somewhere!!

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    8. Thank you for that insightful post. A cousin of mine committed suicide a few years ago. All I could think of at the funeral was if he could only see how much pain his mother and his son were in.

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      1. That is what I always remember Jeanette. The pain of those left behind is much worse than the one who ended his pain!!

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    9. I wonder how few among us are untouched by a suicide. Your post is comprehensive and excellent. Thank you.

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      1. I think so many are touched by this Joanne. Thank you for you kind words!

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    10. I have a family history of suicide. My mom, shot herself in the head in 2008. Her father shot himself 1958 and his father jumped off a bridge in the 30's. I would be 4th generation, but I won't ever do it. I have seen the wreckage it has caused. In my mom, andto my sister and I. I would NEVER do that to my family. In my case, with my Mom, her suicide was the ultimate F--k you. She left notes around the house, that I found - blaming my sister and I for everything wrong in her life. I was able to talk it out but my sister grieved thinking it was her fault. So she died a early death at age 56, due to grieving, guilt and stress.

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      1. Very sad! But they say it is an illness that runs in families! We must take care!

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    11. A thoughtful and thought provoking post Paula and I'm sorry that you have experienced suicide within your own family. I think anything that might help prevent someone taking their own life should be explored and implemented. I'm not sure I always agree with the sentiment that it's a selfish act though. A good friend of ours committed suicide leaving a wife and 4 children. He had made a previous attempt. His wife is firmly of the belief that he was mentally unwell and that as such his decision was neither rational or selfish. He was in such a dark place that he believed suicide was his only option.

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      1. As the survivor of suicide I see it as a very selfish act on his part. He cured his pain but created so much pain in the family he left behind. I do think they are not thinking rationally at the time. But it doesn't change the outcome. Sadly!

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    12. I am so sorry for the little girl that lost her Father so young and then to be treated so badly it just isn't right. :(

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      1. Thank you FSOF! Sometimes people just don't know better!

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    13. Thank you for your informative post. I have had, as I'm sure all of us have had, very low points in my life. During those times I basically wanted to escape from the pain. Although I never contemplated a permanent resolution, I understand how bad the pain can get.
      I'm sorry that you had such a rough time because of your father's problems and his suicide. How terrible for a young child to have to go through that. Your mom sounds like she was a strong lady. I have a feeling that's where your strength comes from.

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      1. My mom was a strong woman during the early years!! And then, not so much! I have had many of those same low spots. But I don't think suicide is ever anything I would contemplate because I know the pain that it has caused me as a survivor!

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    14. It is a terrible tragedy for those left behind. I can't imagine dealing with this as a young child. Thanks for speaking out on this important topic Paula

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    15. You are a very brave, strong woman! I have no doubt your words have a positive impact.

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      1. I don't know about being brave and strong. I haven't much felt that lately. But thank you for your kind words!!

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    16. My boss, a man I had worked with for over 10 years, committed suicide. A man, whose home I'd been to, whose family I knew - whose wife I had lunch with... I started sleeping with a night light that night and haven't stopped since - that was over 25 or more years ago. His family kept looking for answers, hoping it was not something he meant to do. We will never know...
      I went through a horrible depression in my 30's. Thank god for the suicide hotline person who talked to me and got me help. Who knows what would have happened if it wasn't for that kind soul who had just the right words. I was so lost and in such a dark place - you can't think of anything - your family - nothing. just that dark hole you are in.

      I'm so sorry Paula for all you went through....way too much at such a young age.

      Linda in VA

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      1. I am so glad that you were able to find a compassionate and helpful person at the other end of the hotline. And that you had the wherewithal to call! Suicide is a very misunderstood disease Linda.

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    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!