Suicide: when the darkness sets in
(Please note: World Mental Health Day was Oct. 10)
The dark side of suicide is that it is too often treated as a taboo issue by people close to the person contemplating it.
Society often shuns anything they perceive to be negative. It cries out to be better understood and dealt with quickly.
Who am I to take on this? First, I care and I was very close to attempts and unfortunate successes many times in my police work. I have seen close relatives and friends struggling to cope with its aftermath.
When I was elected a Headquarters representative for the RCMP in Saskatchewan, I was subjected to up close and intense training regarding suicide and many other serious health-related that could lead to it as part of my mandate.
My training rightfully only allowed me to identify problems, then refer “willing” persons who were needing professional help.
After I retired, I took more training and donated more than 500 hours of my time to the Crisis Help Line. Again, only to be a stop-gap but to help as best I could immediately, then refer the “willing” for professional assistance. I mention willing as only the willing can be helped. Thus, the focus must be on ways to make people willing and there are many! We must show that we care enough to make them willing to seek help.
Suicide is defined as intentionally acting to end one’s life. We must first focus on the warning signs for suicide which may be planned or impulsive:
1. Talking about or wanting to die or kill oneself.
2. Looking for a way to kill oneself. 3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
4. Talking about being a burden to others.
5. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
Depression often plays a large part in contemplated suicide. Since about one in five of us are somewhat depressed on any given day, there is a lot of potential for the seriously, long depressed to need assistance. Decreased serotonin activity in the brain can be a sign. Feeling hopeless, helpless and isolated can be triggered from serious losses like job security, death, or serious injuries or health issues of people close to you.
People who have been bullied, physically abused or sexually assaulted and the young and very old are more susceptible. They may often only want to end the mental or physical pain, but may not want to die.
We must act quickly to reduce or eliminate that pain so they can imagine that there is hope for a better life. More hugs and understanding can only be good! They must understand that the best antidote for resentment is gratitude. Also, that some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink and some come to gargle and sometimes we just stub our toe on the fountain as we stumble by. Failure is not a measure of your worth. it is a chance for a new start. To avoid disappointment aim for progress, not perfection. You can chose your way, but you can’t chose the result.
To quote Agatha Christie, the world’s best selling author; “I have sometimes been wildly, disparity, acutely miserable …. but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”