Talking About Suicide

Suicide has been in the news recently. The recent deaths by suicide of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain has people grappling with questions why suicide happens – particularly when it involves people with seemingly happy lives.

I recently got to be part of an article about this very topic over at VICE. Author Ali Wunderman did an amazing job sharing her own mental health struggles. I am so impressed by her honesty and vulnerability in this article. Check it out:

Here’s a quick tip for talking to a friend who you suspect is depressed:

When it comes time to act on your offer, be honest with yourself and your friends about the level of support you can provide. “It can be intimidating to reach out to anyone we suspect is struggling whether it be with mental illness, physical pain or anything else,” Smith says. But even if it’s scary, it’s worth it to try. “The fact of the matter is, it’s not about saying the perfect thing, or fixing all your friend’s problems. It’s just about showing up and being a supportive presence in their life.”

Check out the entire article for more ideas about how to talk to a friend or family member who you suspect might be experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Suicide and the Holidays

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I have spent way too much time in the last 5 days grieving people in my community who have taken their own lives.  It’s been horrible.

I don’t know if we (meaning my little town in Northern Colorado) are the norm or not, but we have been inundated with loss since the end of November.  We are all shaking our heads and wiping our eyes, and wondering the same things:

Why?

and

What could we have done differently?

Sadly, we won’t ever get answers to these questions (the cruel and heartless aftermath of suicide).  In fact, even the most expert of the experts on suicide struggle to know how best to prevent it.  So here’s my thought:

We have to talk about it

Often

With everyone

What I mean is: we need to talk with our kids about suicide and sadness and rash decisions from the moment they can understand such things (which is probably younger than we give them credit for).  We need to talk to our parents and grandparents and nieces and nephews.  We need to talk to our partners and spouses about coping with feelings of sadness and despair.  We need to make resources like this available and even prominent in our homes.

The holidays can be painful and lonely for so many of us.  But suicide never helps.

Reach out, talk and share.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-TALK

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK

 

 

Talking to Kids About Suicide

Suicide is a topic that no one likes to talk about, but it’s one we need to discuss – and not just when it affects a celebrity we love. I recently wrote a post for the American Psychological Association‘s blog, Your Mind. Your Body.  In it, I offered some tips for talking to your youngest family members about this tough topic.  Here’s a peek:

Don’t Be Afraid to Say It: Even when news of a celebrity’s death by suicide isn’t on the news, it is a part of everyday language. Kids are hearing about it at school, on the radio and online. So be brave and ask clear questions like: “Have you ever thought of suicide?” or “What would you do if you had thoughts of suicide?” It does no good to beat around the bush.

For more tips and strategies for talking to kids about suicide, check out the full post on Your Mind. Your Body.

Even when news of a celebrity’s death by suicide isn’t on the news, it is a part of everyday language. Kids are hearing about it at school, on the radio and online. So be brave and ask clear questions like: “Have you ever thought of suicide?” or “What would you do if you had thoughts of suicide?” It does no good to beat around the bush. – See more at: http://www.yourmindyourbody.org/talking-to-your-children-about-suicide/#sthash.48nKYGB4.dpuf

Don’t be afraid to say it.

Even when news of a celebrity’s death by suicide isn’t on the news, it is a part of everyday language. Kids are hearing about it at school, on the radio and online. So be brave and ask clear questions like: “Have you ever thought of suicide?” or “What would you do if you had thoughts of suicide?” It does no good to beat around the bush.

– See more at: http://www.yourmindyourbody.org/talking-to-your-children-about-suicide/#sthash.48nKYGB4.dpuf

Don’t be afraid to say it.

Even when news of a celebrity’s death by suicide isn’t on the news, it is a part of everyday language. Kids are hearing about it at school, on the radio and online. So be brave and ask clear questions like: “Have you ever thought of suicide?” or “What would you do if you had thoughts of suicide?” It does no good to beat around the bush.

– See more at: http://www.yourmindyourbody.org/talking-to-your-children-about-suicide/#sthash.48nKYGB4.dpuf

Suicide: It’s Everyone’s Issue

Blogging For Suicide Prevention Badge
USC’s MSW Programs Blog Day.

Suicide is more common than most of us think.  The CDC tells us that it is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.  More noteworthy to me is that someone dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes in this country – keep in mind that that figure doesn’t take into account the people who attempted to take their own lives but were unsuccessful.  And it surely doesn’t count the people who have suicide on their minds.

Stereotypes about who thinks about, attempts and actually commits suicide abound, but just as with many stereotypes – the reality is quite different.  Did you know older Americans are more at risk?  Check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s statistics below:

This flies in the face of the notion that only angst-ridden teenagers consider suicide an option.  In fact, the numbers presented above prove that it is something that occurs in every age group.  In fact, suicides happen in every racial group, religious persuasion, tax bracket and gender.  It is a tragic equalizer among us.

If there is a bright spot in all these statistics, it is that suicide prevention efforts, like today’s Suicide Awareness Day, are becoming more common and accepted.  While it’s something that none of us want to talk about, conversations about suicide are becoming more common and accepted in popular and social media.

And that gives us all a chance to spread the word about the resources available – for free and for everyone.  More importantly, these resources are available when needed – no matter day or time.  Spread the word.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255)

American Psychological Association Help Center

Veterans Crisis Line