WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT – Suicide, Mental Health – Tillamook County Pioneer
EDITOR’S NOTE: How could there be “positive vibes” when talking about suicide? That is exactly what Jan Boal wants to do. Eliminate whispers and whys and normalize conversations about suicide and mental health. Please join us as we all learn to talk about our mental health and how suicide can be prevented. Jan provides some tips and tools for having these conversations. And if you or someone you know needs resources, check out the Tillamook County Resources below, call or text 988.
By Jan Boal, RN CNN
This is not an easy topic for most of us to talk about. Unfortunately, suicide has become all too common in our communities across our nation. And yes, WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT IT! Change cultural norms about suicide and normalize conversations associated with it. Some of which come from religious views, “it’s a sin”, “you will not go to heaven, you will go to hell.” Telling us “it’s selfish, what about the family?”, “Why couldn’t they just stick it up and move on like the rest of us?” For those who were left behind, “Why didn’t they come to us, tell us?” There are layers to why one contemplates ending their life. There are layers of the aftermath left with loved ones.
For family and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide, there are a multitude of feelings. Shame on everyone. It shows a weakness in the deceased. Shame for the reasons this could have happened, bankrupting the family, making very bad decisions and not wanting the family to have to live with the humiliation and many more. People talk in whispered tones about why. The cause of death is not mentioned. It’s the same with a drug overdose. We don’t feel that way if someone dies of a heart attack for not taking care of her health. We don’t get mad at them for leaving us for this reason. But having mental health problems is something else.
We all thought, why couldn’t they come to us for help!? Why didn’t they find a professional to talk to? The big “why” hangs over us for years. Why didn’t I see it? Why did they feel so desperate? Why did they think we’d be better off without them?
I will try to provide you with some answers. Every case is different with so many variables about it. It’s heartbreaking. We, the bereaved family and friends, feel robbed, abandoned, amputated by losing a part of ourselves. So did the deceased. Robbed of a happy life, nurture, social justice, healthy emotions to name a few. For them it is like living in a state of constant grief and pain. Constant hopelessness, despair, numbness, a life without joy. Even if they have everything one could want, brain chemistry plays a huge role. Most do not want to die. They just don’t want to wake up one more day to this lack of life, with no hope of getting better, of having no joy, something to look forward to. Imagine how you feel when you are grieving.
Imagine every day for years filled with that. It’s hard to even breathe.
Society has many unrealistic expectations placed on us. For centuries men were told not to cry, feel, express or talk about their emotions. Ethnic and cultural viewpoints have their own challenges and taboos for discussing such things. As the saying goes, how does that work!? Processing is an important aspect of facing life’s challenges. It is a coping tool. How can you build a house without a hammer? How can you go through life not being able to process without support? We women talk more among ourselves because it helps, we support each other, we are a sounding board, we give our opinion.
This helps tremendously. I’m not saying that men should get together for group hug therapy (although I really think that would be great!) but to learn how to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Lighten the load. You’ll feel better! However, sometimes more help is needed than just this.
Here is a list of common causes of suicidal feelings. The first two are the main causes of having these feelings.
#1. Mental health issues that are not addressed; Depression, PTSD, Bipolar..
#2. Socioeconomic disadvantage. Poverty is continuous stress and despair.
Bullying, discrimination – racism, gender identity, sexual preference…
Difficult types of abuse: domestic, sexual, physical, emotional…
Grief: loss of a loved one, end of a relationship.
Long-term illness or pain
Impulsive or aggressive tendencies.
Current or previous history of adverse childhood experiences, trauma…
The highest suicide rate between the genders is that of men. The highest rate across age groups is among adults 45 and older, especially those 60 and older. Though teens have a lot more on their plates than ever before. Not having the coping skills, life experience, or mature frontal lobe development is a delicate and risky situation. They see it as something that will never get better, since they don’t have the mature experience of seeing things change, but we do get through the tough times.
Various suicide warning signs. When someone is…
- Talk about feeling trapped or in excruciating pain.
- Talk about being a burden to others.
- Show an increase in alcohol or drug use.
- He is acting anxious or agitated, the behavior is reckless.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdraw or feel isolated.
- Show anger or talk about seeking revenge.
We have to feel comfortable asking “are you okay?” Express our feelings, “I’m worried about you.” “We can talk?” And the VERY BIG question that 99% of the population is very uncomfortable with, “Do you have thoughts of wanting to die or not wanting to wake up?” “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” These questions will NOT put ideas in your head. In fact, it provides relief. Open the door to a conversation about it. It is a heavy burden to have these thoughts inside of us, feeling so hopeless.
Main protective factors for suicide:
– Effective behavioral/mental health care.
– Connection with individuals, family and/or community.
– Coping skills, ability to adapt to change.
– Self-esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life.
To help each other, there needs to be a social conscience. Learning to talk about this uncomfortable topic. Reduce stigma and ambiguity by bringing attention to suicide statistically to the fore. Encourage positive dialogue and engagement as a means to prevent suicide. We can do it together.
Holistic Care from Positive Vibes