Suicide Prevention Week

September 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

This morning a friend posted this on my facebook profile: “This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Your life makes all the difference. Sending love and hugs.” I didn’t know that this week was National Suicide Prevention Week  until she told me.

Do you know the warning signs of Suicide? The American Association of Suicidology shares this mnemonic:

IS PATH WARM?

I Ideation
S Substance Abuse

P Purposelessness
A Anxiety
T Trapped
H Hopelessness

W Withdrawal
A Anger
R Recklessness
M Mood Changes

FBprofile2014I’ve read in the past that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” but this post has helped me to recognize that such statements aren’t helpful. For many of those pondering suicide, it is the very endlessness of their suffering that has driven them to ponder death as a solution. And I can attest that the fear of never escaping your torturous situation is absolutely horrific. No one can know how long a particular person’s suffering will last. What matters most is the present moment.

What can you say instead? This excerpt from Hollis Easter is helpful:

Try to avoid giving advice. Focus on listening instead. Start with the feelings that the person has, and go from there.

Give them space to talk about why they’re feeling so down, and why death feels like their best option right now. Give them time to tell you about it. Don’t try to force them to feel cheerful by focusing on all the reasons they have to stay alive.

Most people, if you give them space, will start to convince themselves that they’re less sure about suicide than they thought. They’ll find ambivalence. They’ll talk themselves into being open to staying alive. That’s when you support their desire to stay alive.

I liked something Joanna wrote: that it can be helpful to ask people “not to take irreversible action when they’re at their lowest.”

I kind of like that, actually, because staying safe right now is a temporary solution to a more permanent problem. It recognizes that we need to help people get through this moment, and that if we keep doing that, the future will turn out okay. (Source)

Today I am pretty discouraged. And I can see far too much of myself in the mnemonic above. I keep holding on because I keep hoping for better days ahead. I got through yesterday with the help of some listening ears and lots of tears. I expect I’ll get through today as well. I know that the way I am feeling at the moment is not a reflection of my true self. I know that I have made progress, even though I’m not feeling as well as I would like to be yet. I know that PMS hormones and benzo withdrawals are probably compounding each other in a “perfect storm” of misery.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a dream she had had the night before. She was passing me in the hallway of our kids’ school, and I smiled and said, “Hi!” In response, she said, “You’re back!” She told me she could tell by my face and appearance that I was myself and happy again. And she said it was so good to see me like that again. I want nothing more than to see her dream happen.

But getting through today is all I can do right now. As Hollis Easter said so well, “until you’ve been there, I think it’s hard to understand how exhausting survival is” (Source). But you don’t have to have been there to be helpful. I’m not the only one out there fighting tooth and nail to stay on this earth, day in and day out. Know the signs. Reach out if you’re worried about a loved one. Save a life.