September was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  I know… my post is a little late considering that we are now a few days into October, but the truth is, I wanted to wait to post this because oftentimes we tend to forget about the causes that we support the moment that the cause’s awareness month has ceased.  So, in a way, this is my way of reminding myself and others to remember that suicide is something that we should not just think about every September.  Suicide is something that we should be aware of year round.  This is by no means because I think that it is more important than any other cause; but because I think that it isn’t thought of as often as it should be considering that it appears to be a considerable, perplexing and somewhat mysterious problem affecting many individuals, their families and friends.
The topic of suicide is often something that people find uncomfortable discussing despite the fact that is such an important issue.  People, who for whatever reason, ultimately reach a point in their lives where they feel so despondent that they eventually feel that continuing their lives is no longer an option must be hurting, immensely, and beyond anything that anyone else could ever imagine…(I, of course am postulating here.)
We have witnessed celebrities and people who seem to have it all chose to end their lives and we are left to wonder why? Many of us have also witnessed people who lived less extravagant lives make the same decision again leaving us to contemplate what happened.  It is evident that there are many people hurting and suffering in silence – all while leaving their families, friends and others with the impression that everything is fine and normal as usual.  Yet, those are only appearances. Appearances that we tend to inaccurately assess; or perhaps maybe it is that they are just more adept at ensuring that no one ever gets a glimpse into that nebulous side of them – again for whatever reason.  Let’s think about that for a second. Really let it soak in.  You can’t help consider that something is terribly amiss here; but what is it?
From what I remember from my psychology courses when I was working on completing my degree a few years ago and through my own research, there aren’t any known actual causes of suicide.  However there are a few risk factors which include the following:
  • Family history
  • Mental illness such as depression or bi-polar disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficult relationships
  • Extreme hardship
  • Grief and loss
  • Extensive emotional and/or physical pain, and
  • Having had attempted suicide previously
Moreover, individuals considered at risk may
  • Seem extremely sad, withdrawn and hopeless
  • Lose or gain weight
  • Appear to be tired all of the time
  • Behave in an unusual manner 
  • Seem to avoid their usual activities or lose interest in them.
  • Talk often about life insurance and wills, suicide, or other things related to death and dying 

One important thing to remember is that it can be difficult to detect the symptoms associated with suicide, namely because they tend to hide their true feelings of sadness, by trying to appear “normal” by preoccupying themselves with work or other busy tasks.  They may also exhibit an abundance of energy or excitability and any of these can lead someone to miss the hidden signs of despair.
If you know someone who might appear to be exhibiting any of these signs. Consider reaching out to them because they need to know that someone is by their side.  They need to know that someone cares. Sometimes the reason that they don’t reach out to anyone themselves is because they were once taught to believe that feeling sad, depressed and hopeless is just weakness. Some were also brought up to believe that seeking mental help is also a sign of weakness or unnecessary when there are other sources of help such as through attending church for example. Yet, being that the cause could be medically related that belief is not very helpful. What is more helpful is listening to the person and trying to help them find the good in life again. What is more helpful than that is assisting them with finding a medical professional to help them in ways that no one else probably can.  Lastly, I’ll end by writing (typing) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number one more time, you know, just in case you forgot it.  1(800) 273-Talk (8255) Pass it on to someone… anyone who you believe may be able to benefit from it.  
Until the next post.

Take Care + Be Well,
Carol xo



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