My third article for the Mass Media’s first issue of the semester. 🙂
Feel free to search through my archives or the search bar if you’re interested in reading more about my university newspaper articles. 🙂 I basically just chat about my mental health, lmao, like I do on here! 😀
I knew I had to do this article for shouting out the, well, you’ll see. 😉
Trigger Warning, Mentions of suicidality in this piece. Tread carefully.
Written 8/24, 8/26
By Raquel Lyons
The month of September is suicide prevention awareness month. Worldwide recognized Suicide Prevention Day or WSPD is on September 10th this year. The national Suicide Prevention week, as covered by the American Association of Suicidology ranges from September 5th to 11th 2016, as well.
In this article I would like to discuss some of the warning signs about suicide, as mentioned in articles you can find online, as well as some of my own thoughts and experiences as someone who has been teetering on that fine line before.
The first thing to remember is that a suicidal crisis is a medical emergency. This may depend on how far along the suicidal victim is, for instance having intention and a suicidal plan to act on makes a person a greater risk to themselves than someone only experiencing fleeting suicidal thoughts. Just as anyone with a heart attack would proceed to the nearest emergency room, it is equally as important to do the same when someone is in a suicidal crisis. The person in a suicidal crisis is a danger to themselves and should not be left alone while aid is being provided.
Remember, the Counseling Center is available for crisis appointments on campus at the Quinn Administration building 2nd floor past the University Health Services. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that you can call at 1800-273-TALK. Other phone services can be found through a simple Google search as well, I know of a website that lists out the various states in the U.S. and some of the phone services that are available in each of those places. International websites cataloging phone services are also available, as well as the option for texting services powered by Samaritans and online chatting provided by imalive.org.
With that stated the website for the AAS provides a mnemonic for the warning signs of suicide: IS PATH WARM? The full-fledged mnemonic stands for ideation, substance abuse, purposelessness, anxiety, trapped, hopelessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness and mood changes.
Before we take a look at some of these warning signs, let us unveil the truth behind two common misconceptions regarding suicide. One common misconception is that a person “really intent” on killing themselves will not talk about it. For most people, this is simply not the case. A person dealing with suicidal ideation may mask their genuine emotional pain behind words, jokes or suicidal threats.
For instance, during the time where I was often suicidal, I would joke that I wanted to go jump off a building. Or that I felt like just killing myself. Or that today would have been a nice day to die.
I was often blunt with my suicidal ideation. I would be wary of saying such things around complete strangers, not knowing how they would react to my admission, but many a time I received laughs and short acknowledgements that the person I was speaking to felt the same. Part of me would be relieved that they didn’t look further into it and part of me was exasperated, feeling hopeless in having to “prove” that I was genuinely a danger to myself.
It’s important to take any threats of suicide seriously, whether they are from a brief joke, a text message or through artwork. It is better to have asked at all, than to potentially lose a friend, permanently.
Another misconception is the idea that people who really want to die by suicide will find a way no matter what. In reality, the majority of people suffering from suicidal ideation are dealing with problems they feel are too surmountable to continue living with. They may not necessarily want to die, but rather to be free of their emotional pain. Even then, they may still be ambivalent on dying.
I recall through my suicidal crises that I often cycled through a series of emotions: say, I started with feeling severely depressed, to anxiety, to anger, to apathy, to calmness. Feeling depressed would get me to start thinking about ways of killing myself, the anxiety would show up along with agitation, of wanting to act on my thoughts and act on them immediately, and the anger would be from all the confusion because part of me would recognize a version of my future self and all that I wanted to achieve while clashing with the version of myself that would be dead by the next day. One of the deadliest parts can be the calmness, a true calm before the storm, as by the time I reached that emotion, I had made up my mind to act on my suicidal thoughts.
In the above, we have covered some of the emotions involved with suicidality, and there are plenty of others too, as one person’s experience is not universal to all of another’s experience.
The purposelessness described in the mnemonic accounts for a person feeling as though they have no purpose being alive. They may find themselves to be expendable, a burden to those around them or that their life is not worth living.
Again, they may express these views either subtly or bluntly. Some people may even begin setting their affairs in order such as a will or tying up loose ends or giving their possessions away to others.
I recall in my experience with suicidality that I viewed the world around me as last possible sights. When I saw the snow sparkling in the sunlight, I thought of it as the last time I would see snow. When I made cards for my friends and gave it to them, I thought of how I was giving them part of myself when the rest of me would soon be disappearing.
Asking for help when you are suicidal, or are worried about someone who is, can be a daunting task. However, it is extremely important that we treat each other with care and love, and that we look out for one another.
If you suspect that someone you know may be suicidal, there are many websites online that can guide you on what to say versus what not to say. There are also those helplines you can call that will provide you with information on nearby mental health professionals or tips to helping yourself or a friend.
It can be scary to admit that you need help, or to reach out for the phone and dial a hotline, but I can assure you that your life is worth living despite how you may be feeling right now. Each of us is an irreplaceable human being, with talents, words and support that can be offered to the world in a kind, compassionate manner.
One of the other things that helped me get through my own suicidality was to remind myself that some people make it through their suicidality and that some people do not. For the ones who do not, they would never get to experience the little treasures in life that we often overlook. Moments like listening to new music or admiring rock formations. It made me consider whether I was going to be one of those people who survived or one of those that we lost. In turn, this blossomed compassion within me to give hope to others who may be struggling so that they themselves and their loved ones did not have to lose them to the sticky fingers of suicidality.
Dealing with suicidal thoughts is no easy task, yet choosing to live each day, each moment is a sign of true strength and courage. It may not feel that way at the time, but you are stronger than you think and stronger than you feel.
Again, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, please reach out for support. There are many people who care and who have been trained specifically for helping those who are in need of it. You, too, can make it to a day where you are happier to be alive than dead.
And for those of you who are suicide attempt survivors, I am proud of you.
And for those who have lost someone to suicide, I am sorry, and may their souls rest tonight.
One last point to be made is to societies around the world: Can we please stop stigmatizing and shaming suicidal individuals for their pain? Rather than saying a person has ‘committed’ suicide, let us change the dialogue to ‘died by suicide’ or ‘lost their lives to suicide’. These are less stigmatizing comments and bring awareness to an issue that so many out there are afraid to acknowledge or talk about.
Not talking about suicide has left us with many lives lost thus far. It is time we begin to change that dialogue and not shame people for getting the help they not only deserve, but require.
Stay safe, people.
LEGAD, Batman! This post has gotten the most likes on any article yet! :O
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