August 12, 2014 9:14 AM
Yesterday evening I amongst the rest of the Nation watched in awe to hear the tragic news of Oscar Award Winning Actor & Comendian Robin Williams. I sat on my deflated tan brown couch in my bare living room when I heard the news of his death. My jaw dropped and pupils grew about an inch wider when I read the words “death ruled an apparent suicide”. I turned my focus on the word “suicide”. BAM! There goes my best friend and worst enemy again taking the life of another precious, comical life of a beloved human being: suicide. Now, majority of you know my stance on suicide and why I tend to perk up when I hear or read about it. If not, I encourage you to read my post on Suicide: Why is it so important to me?
Now, the year 2014 for me personally has been one of the worst years of my entire life. Harsh to say? Yes, but I am only speaking the truth. Suicide has been the reason why this year has not been my year from the day I rang in the New Year. Of course with any bad comes some good right? Let me map out the events that have occurred so far for me in the year 2014.
- February 2014: I turned the luxurious 21. -Good/Best/Fantastic Day of my life and of the year.
- March 2014: My best friend of nearly 10 years suicides March 26th. – Worst/Terrible/Dreadful/Shocking Day of my life and of the year.
- April 2014: Admitted to my 2nd psychiatric hospitalization (22 days) [1st one of the year] due to suicidal threats – Again Terrible Day of my life and of the year; Once discharged Best Day of my life.
- May 2014: Attempts suicide/stopped breathing for ~30 seconds could not breathe stably on my own. Enters 3rd hospitalization (30 days) [2nd one of the year]- This overall was the most Tragic Day of my life and of the year.
- June 2014: Discharged from psychiatric hospital. -Glorious Day of my life and of the year. Late June, my cousin was born. -Best Day of my life and of the year. Receives news that another student from my former high school suicides – Heartbreaking/Sad Day
- July 2014: Continues treatment/therapy/CBT/DBT – Excellent/ Good Days
- August 2014: To be determined. [The feeling and emotion will all be determined once I hear from the Dean of Students if I am cleared to attend my University this Fall]
Now of course, I am sure there are some of you out there who views this and thinks, “What in the world is this girl talking about “bad days” I’ve had far more “worst days” than she has described”. And yes I can agree with you; I am not here to exaggerate and throw myself a pity party. No! I wanted to illustrate that nobody’s life or year is a perfect one. A perfect anything is just impossible. Things happen unexpectedly and may throw us off our conscious path, but we must lean on the shoulders of others during those difficult times, seek help, take care of ourselves in order to get back on that conscious path.
According to AFSP, American Foundation for Suicide and Prevention, 39,518 suicides in the United States were reported in 2011, in that year alone. So let’s think about. We are more than half way through the year 2014, my estimation is that there are approximately 20,000+ suicides so far. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Americans and I can only imagine its rank in other countries, I am sure, I know it is high in ranking too.
Here’s where my heart stops and I grow angry: When people question, “Why in the Hell did ____________ commit suicide?” I know we all want answers I too want to know why my best friend did what she did but we will never know; the only person who knows why he/or she did what they did is the person at hand. But, once you start to peel back the layers there is usually ~90% of the time a mental illness connection to the suicide; And this will give you a small yet big answer as to why he/or she suicide. My best friend suffered from Bipolar Type I Disorder, I knew she did and this explained a lot to me why she may have suicide. I have Major Depressive Disorder (formally known as clinical depression) and Borderline Personality Disorder, this explains why I’ve attempted suicide four times in my life. Robin Williams, too suffered from severe clinical depression and yesterday morning he made the decision to suicide. In addition, the phrase, “commit suicide” highly irks my soul. It’s as if the person is a criminal and should be arrested for a criminal act; when in reality they cannot be arrested or serve jail time, why? Because they are dead! Suicide is not a criminal act and should not be labeled as so. This is my opinion and belief and you may agree or disagree with me and I respect your opinion/belief. But I really want to educate others on mental health terminology, its stigma, and how society tends to “dress up” or portray suicide. Of course, this will be a talk and blog post for another day.
When a person chooses suicide, it’s hard to accept that choice but it is their choice. For me personally 2014 is the year of the suicide plague and each day I ponder “am I next? Is today my day to let go?” No one will ever fully understand what, how, and why I or someone would choose to do such a terrible act and sometimes I just have to say to that person, “You won’t and will not understand unless you are in my shoes to feel the intense emotions I feel day to day about myself and my life.” I am not here to say the cliche “life is a precious gift be thankful and live it day to day blah blah blah blah” NO! Wake up people! Depression is REAL! Bipolar is REAL! Voices are REAL! Schizophrenia is REAL! Mental illness is REAL! Chemical imbalances are REAL! Chronic mental disorders are REAL! SUICIDE is REAL!!! You never knows what goes on in a depressed, a mentally ill persons head. Never assume you know because you just might set off their triggers and push them over the edge.
Know someone suffering with depression but unfamiliar with the signs of depression? Get to know the warning signs of depression and other mental illnesses that can lead to suicide. Become one with the warning signs, get acquainted with them in order to connect with your loved ones on a better level.
I’ve provided a brief synopsis noting the risk factors and warning signs for suicide. More information and credit is given to the American Foundation for Suicide and Prevention.
Common risk factors for suicide are the following:
Mental disorders (in order from the most prevalent disorder to the least)
- Depression/Bipolar (manic/depressive) Disorder
- Alcohol/ Substance abuse
- Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)/ Antisocial personality disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Psychotic Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders
Previous suicide attempt Family history of suicide/or attempts Severe medical condition
Warning Signs: **I must note as a person with a severe mental illness it is always hard to pin point the warning signs to pick up on the severity of my depression and when I am contemplating thoughts of suicide. With that being said, use this list as a guideline to help you identify the specific warning signs/characteristics displayed by your loved ones during their episodes/low moments. You have to really get to know your loved ones to know their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without overriding their boundaries. This is where a mental health professional (therapist, medical doctor, psychiatrist) come in handy.**
- Verbally expressing and talking about wanting to kill themselves or saying they wish they were dead
- Researching or finding ways to kill themselves
- Talking about a specific suicide plan
- Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Feeling trapped, desperate, or needing to escape from an intolerable situation
- Having the feeling of being a burden to others
- Feeling humiliated
- Having intense anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Losing interest in things, or losing the ability to experience pleasure
- Becoming socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family, and others
- Acting irritable or agitated
- Showing rage, or talking about seeking revenge for being victimized or rejected, whether or not the situations the person describes seem real
What To Do When You Suspect Someone May be at Risk of Suicide:
- Please take what they are saying or feeling very very seriously and provide them with the necessary help immediately. Make sure they are in a safe environment and do not let them be alone in that moment.
- Ask questions. Be sure to not force the questions out of them you may set off serious triggers for them in doing so.
- Encourage professional help.
- Take Action. Make sure they are in a safe environment and do not let them be alone in that moment. Call your emergency number, take them to an emergency hospital center, or psychiatric hospital. The person needs to be in safe place and sometimes “home” may not be the safest place for the person.
- Follow Up on their treatment. Make sure they are taking prescribed medications, support their decision to take the medications and see a therapist/psychiatrist. Let them know it is going to take time to heal and recover.
One thing I tell my close friends who support my decision to take antidepressant and see a therapist/psychiatrist is the following:
“During my lowest and depressive moments I need you to do the following: Be quiet. Listen. Be there. Hug and support me.”
The world seems much more brighter and “worth living” when you surround yourself with the right group of people who understand your mental illness, support your decisions, and can be there for you at any given time. Forget the bad days and the road bumps, life stretches beyond a mile when you have a stupendous support group of people who check in on you daily without your constant reminder and show up at your front door with your favorites to erase the blues.
I am so thankful to have the support group of people I have today. I do not think I would have come this far in my recovery if they were not there by my side. If you are out there alone, without a support person to lean on or go to during your episodes, please reach out to me. I would love to be a support person to you and be in contact with you to help you through your journey and recovery. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next time someone tells you to “snap out of depression” , “you are faking it” and “get out of that manic episode” tell them to run 10 miles to embrace the pain we feel in a matter of seconds and minutes.
Know you are not alone. Know your mental illness is not your fault. Know that there is help. Know that what you are feeling and experiencing is real. Please remember to take good care of yourself.
Sending you all positive vibes and everlasting rays of sunshine.
If this post has triggered any old habits or emotions please reach out to someone, call your local emergency room, or contact the Suicide Hotline Number 1-800-273-8255.