Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Opening a Frank Dialogue About Suicide and Suicidal Ideation

We've turned that seasonal corner where the days are getting longer but the light can be endlessly dreary, The Holidays have passed (for better or for worse), and a creeping dread begins to seep into the shadowy corners and trap doors of so many minds. For some people, this is a familiar, difficult battle. For others, this frightening crash course is about to knock them into an undertow and leave them little with which to right themselves. People with seasonal affective disorder and any of the mood (e.g. depression, bipolar) or anxiety disorders can be particularly triggered this time of year. This makes me think it's past time for a frank, respectful discussion about suicide.

There is a colossal stigma around suicide due to the commonly held belief that people who succumb to it are simply weak, selfish, or not trying hard enough. I must stress how faulty and damaging this line of thinking is. Suicidal thoughts are incredibly oppressive, can pop up randomly, and don't necessarily correspond with an external trigger. They are not something that is easily shaken off. Suicide is largely pondered, not pondered, planned, not planned, attempted, not attempted, completed, and not completed by people with mental disorders. Probably no one would say, "Walk it off, you lazy ingrate!" if you asked for help with a heart attack, toxic appendix, or missing limb. Brain disorders and their symptoms are just as real and valid as any of those ailments, but are often dangerously written off. Suicidal ideation (having suicidal thoughts) is already so isolating, it's no wonder some folks try to keep it to themselves instead of talking to someone or asking for help.

I would like to put together a collection of candid stories from people who have been suicidal (anonymously if you wish). I fully realize the delicacy of this request and I will treat each story with respect.

I would also like to hear from allies and gather information on how best to be of help to someone who is thinking about suicide.

Please send all correspondence to punch.pills.pie@gmail.com.

This has been purely my anecdotal opinion. If you are having any thoughts about suicide, I encourage you to talk to someone you know and trust or contact any of the following (no matter how pointless or difficult it feels):

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention
In an Emergency, Contact:
  • —Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • —Psychiatric hospital walk-in clinic
  • —Hospital emergency room
  • —Urgent care center/clinic
  • —Call 911

  • Resources for Help

    • School counselor, teacher or coach
    • Crisis telephone helplines [1-800-273-TALK or LGBTQ Focus 1-866-4-U-Trevor]
    • Private therapist, or counselor
    • Mental health agency
    • Hospital emergency room
    • Clergy or religious leader

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