Updated: Mar 14, 2018
~How we can help each-other~
We don’t talk about it.
We don’t know what to do about it.
And it's out there.
People are ashamed to bring it up because they need help and aren’t “seeking attention”.
Let’s talk suicide!
Why do people even think about or commit suicide?
Well, these people are experiencing tremendous emotional pain, to the point its unbearable, overwhelming and there is no hope. This does not define their sense of character but rather defines a state they are in.
I had no hope, no one to help and was in excruciating pain to the point I saw no end. I could barely move, barely talk, couldn’t read nor write as my mind was not right at that moment in time. My mind was a nice filing cabinet with labels and sections. Then, it got shuffled, shaken and etch sketched away. The pathways were all misfiring and I could not understand nor was there support to shift my perspective otherwise. I was hit by a car, riding my bicycle down a bike lane. I was hit, knocked out and rushed to the hospital as I couldn’t feel my body or move it. Long story short, I went on an emotional roller-coaster to re-programme my whole being, spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally. I was lost, wanting nothing but the pain to go away, so I thought why not end it. Why not end my torture? I wanted to stop hurting and I wanted to stop hurting others with my need of dependency and my emotional fluctuations.
I wasn’t thinking about how my death would affect others. I just thought life would be better, be painless and others wouldn’t have to take care of me. I cried a lot. I was in pain a lot and I didn’t know how to reach out for help. I felt empty, hopeless and defeated.
The only thing I remember was my sister, out of shear push and ability to not handle me, said “isn’t there a friend you can talk to or call”. She said this a long time ago, out of context, out of anger and while I was on my emotional roller-coaster, from my concussed brain. I took that and called the only person who would pick up, no matter what, I knew he would not judge me. It was hard for me to do, I felt shame pouring out of me, as people keep asking me “are you better yet?”, as if I just had a bad cold. I was not myself anymore and I knew my best friend would understand. He was there, he was always there and he was my last effort to try. I texted, “I shouldn’t be alone right now.” As he replied, “I’ll be right over”. My heart poured out more tears, partly from fear of myself, from the shame ripping through me and the enormous pain I felt every day. He came, hugged me as I cried and let me be me and listened, without a word but with eyes of compassion. He was there, he sat there with me, while I was in pain and hurting inside. He was my rock, my pillar at that moment in time and that is were my pain was heard and I felt as if someone cared.
Now I work with high risk clients, who were traumatized and lost, to the point they see no hope. While they are in those moments I am there. I am listening and I help them see what I see in them and how far they have come. I give them that shed of light to see for themselves. I can relate with their hopelessness and desire need for connection. We are not victims, but survivors.
So what else can contribute to that loss, that hopelessness?
It can be a loss (from a job, pet, friend, boyfriend, husband, daughter/son, someone close, or something dear to you), trauma/ childhood trauma, illness, mental illness, addiction, major life changes and depression. Each suicide occurs in a unique mix of complex interconnected factors, individual, environmental, biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual, including psychological trauma (both developmental and intergenerational).
States Canada- In 2009 there were 3,890 suicides in Canada, a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people.The suicide rate for males was three times higher than the rate for females (17.9 versus 5.3 per 100,000)
So why now? Why write about it?
Well, it was over Christmas to new years, I work with high risk, traumatized clients who have been through unspeakable things and the past two months, more or less, went smoothly. No one relapsed, no one ran away. That was a win. All because the staff were educated and was there for them and they had the tools to come to us first. Holidays can bring up a lot of emotions especially when you feel alone. Since, it’s all about family, connection, joy and cheer, but it can also bring up fear, anxiety, depression and suicide. Near the end of January I actually had the time to write about it and finally watch a TV series I have been told about. Over the holidays I watched 13 reasons why (a Netflix series). I usually, correction barley ever watch TV anymore unless something catches my eye and captivates my senses.
13 reasons why is about a girl that committed suicide from high school and the 13 reasons/people that lead up to it. Some were small, others were bigger and some were damn right against consent. It was hard to watch as I recall being bullied in high school as well. There was a difference in my generation though, there was no smart phones nor internet. I was the last generation that didn’t have this privilege….. or curse. There was no Facebook (FB), no Instagram, no other social media to hide under or behind/ use. There was only school and for the most part it stayed there.
This show showed me in this day and age how much more everything is amplified now. I am not saying it wasn’t before but now there are more means to use. You don’t need to say anything to their face when you can text them safety from your home. There was flake on this show and I get it. It made you uncomfortable and that was the point. They made the scenes and made sure they didn’t cut out certain things to make sure people were uncomfortable, to get the point out there, to be real.
When your young you don’t know your still trying to figure it out, let alone tell it out. At any age it is hard. Hard to get through it and you are not alone, please remember that. I am here, we are here. We can help.
What to do and look for:
What do you see? Sudden mood shift -good or bad-, reckless behaviours, lack or activity on social platforms, lack of caring, giving away their stuff, withdrawing, alcohol/drug misuse, difficulty coping.
What do you hear? Stating it will be all over soon, no long-term plans, tuning out, saying they are “a drag”, “What’s the point”, “I’m such a loser”, “I have no one”, etc. They feel as if they are a burden, no purpose, what to escape.
Sense? Non-verbal indications, numb, hopeless, ashamed, desperate.
Learnt about it in life situation? Abuse, rejection, losses, suicide experience.
2) Preventive measures:
a) Do they have a Plan: Plan
Where are they doing it?
When is it happening, exactly?
Means, what are they using? Do they have it yet? Do they plan on getting it? Where are they getting it, exact store etc.?
Keep them talking to you, the more time they talk, the less time alone they will be.
b) Have they attempted before: Previous
Ask them directly. What happened? And why did it happen?
Be curious and open.
c) Do they have support: Prevent
Hope, help, healing
Find something they can connect with to stay for; friends, family, pet.
d) Follow through/ risk assessment (low/ med/ high): Probability
Safety plan (there are examples on line) and assess, there level of risk.
A suicide safety plan can play a vital role in keeping you safe when you’re feeling distressed or suicidal.
3) What to say/ Ask/ the conversation.
Care, understand and be non-judgmental. Show compassion, empathy and not sympathy.
Use provocative language, do not sugar coat.
SafeTALK guide (SEE BELOW)
Active listening, you are there for them.
Do not give them false reassurance.
4) Further follow up
Create a safety plan
Ask to text/ call in an hour, make them have a plan tonight or tomorrow.
Get them to write down a few numbers of safe people they can call and give them resource numbers (see below).
Helpful to make a plan together and get them to agree to it, like a contact for their life, and for accountability.
5) How to ask for help
Connect with services, Say I am no longer wanting to be here and want to end my life, this will indicate to them you are in need of help. They want know unless you talk.
“I need someone right now”
“I shouldn’t be alone”
“Life to too much”
“I’m thinking about death”
“I want to die”
“I am suicidal”
“I want my life to be over”
“No body cares”
“No one will have to worry about me anymore”
“I can’t go on like this anymore”
“I feel out of control..”
“I need to talk to you..”
SafeTALK is a quick and easy way to remember:
Tell: The person who has suicidal thoughts, speak up, to tell someone.
Ask: Person who is helping. Ask directly. “When someone is _____, they are sometimes thinking about suicide. Are you thinking about suicide?” or “is this a life or death situation?”
Listen: Let’s talk about this, I am listening… This is important…. I care….
Keepsafe: We need extra help. I want to connect you with someone who can help you keepsafe. See below for hotlines and resources.
Crisis Line Vancouver # 1-866-661-3311
Victims services: 1-800-563-0808
BC Suicide Helpline: 1-800-784-2433
Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789 (BC)
SuicideLine Victoria by calling 1300 651 251
So please, educate yourself and others to help. You can save lives. All it takes is knowing what to do. Or at least pointing them in the right directing with resources with professionals.
There are a lot of resources out there, please have a look for yourself. There is online, text and calling support. Do not hesitate to call or ask for support. There is no shame in pain, shame lives in the silence, so break the silence.