A Personal Note On Suicide

A Personal Note On Suicide

***TRIGGER WARNING- This article contains information about suicide which may be upsetting to some people. If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call your local suicide hotline or visit http://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

Suicide sucks. Plan and simple. It always seems to hit us when we least expect it and it always hurts. It doesn’t matter the age, the circumstance. It always feel like a life was taking before its time.

The last half of 2018 has been a helluva time for me. Over the past 6 months I have dealt with the deaths of five people who were either directly or indirectly under my care. One died of an accidental heroin overdose, the other four were suicides by hanging.

I have seen CPR performed heroically and tirelessly, but in vain on two of those deaths and it is an indescribable feeling to see someone I knew, someone I had spoken to earlier that day, laying on the ground motionless. Someone so young (one was in her twenties, the other in her thirties) and so full of life at one point, now lifeless.

Suicide is an unfortunate evil we have to deal with in the mental health field. My current job puts me in the role of dealing with suicidal patients all day long.

I am used to dealing with suicidal patients, even patients who attempt suicide or self-injure, but I am and never will be used to dealing with completed suicides. I take each death personally, even if professionally and ethically my staff and myself did everything we could to prevent it.

Suicide is often an impulsive act. At least one of the suicides appears to have been the result of rage. Suicide is often thought of as anger turned inward.

Suicide sometimes builds overtime and is the result of unbearable psyche pain. Three of the suicides, at least on the surface, appear to have been thought out. One woman was grieving over the loss of her sister and blaming herself for her sisters death. She was filled with depression and guilt she found insufferable. Another man was facing a lengthy prison sentence and decided he would rather die than go back to prison and spent years locked away. He was the only one who left a suicide letter behind. It was obviously something he had given some thought to.

Suicide, as we have seen too often lately, is sometimes the result of bullying, which appears to have been the case in the last suicide and another serious suicide attempt a couple of weeks after that one. Adults in correctional settings who are exposed to bullying are at high risk for suicide.

There weren’t any obvious warning signs that could have prevented any of these deaths. Accept for the accidental heroin overdose, these individuals seemed to have been determined, in those moments, to end their lives. I wish I could have saved them. I wish I could have saved them all. I cried after each of those suicides because I knew those individuals, maybe not terribly intimately, but as close as you can professionally under these circumstances.

I even thought about resigning because I felt like we failed them although multiple internal and external reviews showed that we did not. However, I know that for these five lives lost, there a countless numbers of suicides we have prevented. And that’s what keeps me going. That’s what keeps us all going.

 

 

 

 

In Order To Make Big Changes: Start Small

In Order To Make Big Changes: Start Small

When it comes to changes, most of us want to make big changes and see big results almost instantly. That’s why so many New Years resolutions and even regular goals fail. We only see the big picture and often get lost in all the effort it will take to see those changes.

What we should do however is focus on the little things. If we want to lose 30 pounds we can go on a crash diet that may work for a while only to see those 30 pounds plus some come back when we stop the diet, or we can start small by reaching for a glass of water instead of that soft drink, walking for 10 mins a day or adding more vegetables to our next meal instead of foods high in carbs.

If we want to save money we can get frustrated with the amount  we want to save and how little extra money we feel like we have to put towards that savings, or we can decide to put away an extra $10 here or there, to cancel that subscription to Spotify or to start bringing our lunch to work or cooking at home to save money.

In both scenarios, before you know it, because it didn’t take an extraordinarily amount of effort,  you will be inching towards your goals and likely will have found the motivation to increase your efforts, even more.

Think about the stories we hear of successful basketball players like Kobe Bryant who spend hours in the gym shooting free throws or three pointers just so when they make the “big shot” in the game it’s really just a series of small things that have come together.

Recently I watched a documentary on body builder and 8 time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. For years he competed, but never won the Mr. Olympia title until one night, just before the show, with hesitancy, but with the urgency of another body builder, broke his routine. He was encouraged to relax, to have a drink and even eat some pizza. He was simply encouraged to not be so serious. The next morning he woke up and won the Mr. Olympia for the first time and he said he believes it was because he was so relaxed and allowed himself to have fun. Something so small ended up changing his life.

We all have changes we want to make and many people do not make those changes because they get lost in the totality of it all. Start small, put one foot forward and then the next. Before you know it you will have reached a goal you may have thought impossible or at least have gotten yourself further than you ever thought you could.