Suicide prevention

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two years ago today, a woman who was a daughter, sister, mother, and friend committed suicide. Her death left an empty place in many lives. Family & friends struggled with unanswered questions. Why did she do this? Was there something I could have said or done to prevent this? How could I not have seen the signs? How could I not sense her pain? 

I think the questions are part of the 5 stages of grief. First, there's denial - disbelief that this has happened. We say, "No! Not her! It can't be true!". We're in shock. Then there's anger. We wonder how the person can just leave everyone behind to pick up the pieces. We accuse them of taking the coward's way out. Then we feel guilty for thinking those things because surely it's "wrong" to have those thoughts. It's not wrong - it's normal - it's human. So we move on to bargaining - although in this instance, I think it's more of a rationalization. We start to come to grips with the fact that this person was in tremendous pain. We think that maybe they felt they had no other option. Maybe they just couldn't stand the pain any longer. And now, the sadness, the depression sets in. We realize they're gone and they're not coming back. How will we ever learn to go on without them? And finally, over time, comes acceptance. I'm not sure I like the term acceptance applied here. I'm not sure we can ever really "accept" what has happened. But we manage to come to terms with it - somehow, some way. We have no other choice. It's either that or allow it to consume us.

In memory of Laurie, I want to post some information about suicide and suicide prevention, with the hope that it will help prevent someone else from feeling they have no other option left.

In 2006, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. That year, 33,000 people committed suicide. Now get this - there are an estimated 10-25 suicide attempts for every suicide death. Mind boggling, isn't it?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health:

What should I do if I think someone is suicidal?
If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.

If you are in a crisis and need help right away:Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

Why should I call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)?
The Lifeline Network answers thousands of calls from people in emotional distress. There are many reasons for their calls. Please call for any of the following reasons:
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Information on suicide
  • Information on mental health/illness
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • To help a friend or loved one
  • Relationship problems
  • Abuse/violence
  • Economic problems
  • Sexual orientation issues
  • Physical illness
  • Loneliness
  • Family problems

Who should call? 
  • Anyone who feels sad, hopeless, or suicidal.
  • Family and friends who are concerned about a loved one.
  • Anyone interested in mental health treatment and service referrals
There is more information available on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's website.

Again, the number to call for help is:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Please, please, please, seek help if you or someone you know is depressed and/or having suicidal thoughts. Someone out there loves you - and they want to help.


Rachael said...

I think about Laurie often..what a tragedy.