Holidaze – Suicide During a Merry Season
The problems of the world start and end with us. This isn’t a new idea, or a fact, or a myth. It just is. Its times like the holidays, a time set aside for celebration and love, during which so many tragic events occur. From the highest suicides rates and acts of violence to terrorism, this time of year seems to magnify the questions in our head. If these inquiries about bad vs. good, good and evil and other such intricacies are left unexplored, the wonderment could turn to fear and suddenly we begin to experience loneliness—an experience that activates our flight or fight response. This response in some severe cases is the difference between overcoming obstacles and succumbing to their darkest corners. In a sense, it is the choice between life and irreversible death, a deeply tragic and painful loss of either your own life or the lives of others occurs.
Suicide Rates and Causes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2013, 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for America. Suicide.org reports that over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. And the most common mental illness is depression. Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide. The organization goes on to report that Many people die by suicide because depression is triggered by several negative life experiences, and the person does not receive treatment – or does not receive effective treatment – for the depression.
Recognizing Warning Signs in Others
Seclusion, disinterest and an overall air of unhappiness are general warning signs. A sudden shift in interest and personality can be the start to something dwelling within your loved one. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), these shifts can include increased use of alcohol or drugs, acting recklessly, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little and aggression. Other more specific signs include giving their things away to loved ones or a sudden bout of happiness—this often comes about because of relief from making a choice to end their life, which they may believe is a solution to their problems.
Some noticeable warning signs as provided by AFSP include talking about killing themselves, talking about being a burden to others or feeling trapped, talking about having no reason to live and expressing unbearable pain.
Recognizing Signs for Yourself
If you start to notice any of these shifts within yourself, such as a change in mood from depression to loss of interest or rage and irritability to humiliation and anxiety, it may be time to hone in on your experience. The AFSP finds that any new behaviors within yourself that are new or have increased, especially when related to a painful event, loss or change can lead to suicidal thoughts. If you recognize any of these signs or are feeling suicidal, seek help immediately. Read on for treatment options.
Treatment is Available
There is no humiliation in seeking treatment. You matter to people whether you believe that or not and seeking treatment is exactly what they would want you to do—not fall further into darkness. Mayoclinic.org suggests learning coping strategies to help you overcome problems linked with suicidal thinking. They also provide some helpful resources to help you do this:
- Call your mental health specialist.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number.
- Seek help from your doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
Others Have Survived
…and found happiness again. Livethroughthis.org is a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors. Reading stories of hope and positivity is one of the best ways to light a flame within yourselves—a warmth to give you the feeling that everything will be ok.
If you’re reading this, you’re not alone—many others are reading this because they too see a lot around them, just as you do. It is through similar string of events that landed you on this page, but you must recognize that coming to this page is a turn in the right direction—you want what’s best for you and that’s to heal the right way.
At some point, we all lose a complete understanding of our presence; we are far too mindful and feel as if we see everything around us all at once, including minor things like the texture of the device you’re reading this on to more captivating senses like the temperature and sounds around you. Fully feeling it all is an immensely profound experience (the keyword being experience). The major point to recognize in your sense of mindfulness is that this is an experience, not a problem, although it can feel like you’re carrying the weight of one.
Why do we let these observations shape every action we take? Because nobody, including ourselves, can tell us specifically what we are experiencing and no one can assure us that everything will all be ok. Why? Because we simply don’t know! Who’s to know what will happen tomorrow? Even the weather is hardly predictable. And that’s ok. Surrender to it and make your experience wonderful by doing what makes you happy, whatever you need to do to make the world a better place than it was when you came in.
Enjoy the holidays for what they are really about, a celebration. It’s all so complicated right now but it’s as simple as being mindful of your experience in an enlightened way—simply by recognizing it as such, an experience, one that you will overcome. So sit back, and enjoy.