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Happy National Suicide Prevention Week!

Granted, it’s not a cheerful subject, but what we should be upbeat about is that suicide is slowly emerging into the light to be discussed, and understood and diminished.

In the U.S. death by suicide is the third largest killer of young adults, the second of college age kids. It’s the single biggest cause of death of men under 50 in the UK. Yikes. #mandown  

Some 40,000 people kill themselves in the US each year. As many as ten times that number make an attempt. And yet for so long almost no one has wanted to talk about it, at all.

Suicide has been a problem for humanity since recorded history. In the west, during Roman times it was considered tragic, but sometimes noble. By the Middle Ages however, a suicide’s corpse was desecrated, their estates were stripped of property and their families ostracized.


Even though that was many hundreds of years ago, maybe that’s why the stigma is still hard to shake. And families of suicide victims can still feel like that. 

The recent death by suicide of actor Robin Williams brought the subject into the limelight once again.

A person who is having suicidal thoughts or worse, more actively planning it, is suffering under tremendous pressure with inadequate resources to cope.  It can happen to almost anyone.

Think of it like a balance.

Stressors versus ability to cope 

On the "coping" side is that which gets us through hard times: our attachments and relationships--both intimate and with our community(s); our fundamental feelings of worth as humans; physical and mental health; and our abilities and habits to process stress.

If this coping “side” is lacking, then it takes less on the other side to push us into crisis.

On the other side is the tough stuff: familial and societal pressures, past trauma or abuse. Personality factors, such as sensitivity, and impulsiveness, can play into the equation as well.

Substance abuse magnifies anything on this heavy “side” significantly.

If we get out of balance during a normal developmentally stressful time, such as puberty, when leaving home, marriage, birth of children, or retirement, the “scales” are further tipped against us.

Then, a precipitating event such as recent trauma, death of a loved one, a break-up, lost job, health set back, etc. sometimes even seemingly positive changes such as a move, or a new job happens, and wham. We’re fully overwhelmed.

We can support the mental and physical strain of being overwhelmed--in crisis--only so long (not very).

When a person feels isolated and alone with their pain, or it’s simply too much to bear even WITH support, a person starts to consider the only thing that can put an end to their suffering. Death at their own hand.  

No one really wants to die. They want the pain to lessen.

Fortunately, there are more and more resources available in most communities to help those in crisis.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call a local crisis line.

In the U.S. and Canada, it's 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

In the U.K., contact the Samaritans at +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK - local rate).  And from 5pm - midnight, GMT call the CALM Helpline at 0800-58 58 58

It's 13 11 14 within Australia.

If you know someone who might be feeling desperate or suicidal, talking about suicide with them DOES NOT put the idea in a person’s head.

It’s already there.

Talking about it with someone (and listening) can begin to relieve the unendurable pressure and may make a lifesaving difference.


Please talk about it...

And have a balanced, happy week.


PS Readers are WELCOME to repost or link to this post. I appreciate attribution.


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Reader Comments (3)

Thank you for this, Ann! May I repost it? I'm ashamed that I didn't realize this was national suicide prevention week. But it's great that you're adding to the conversation. Next wednesday I'll be posting a review of 13 Reasons Why which has a lot of good information about depression and suicide in it.

September 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam Watts

You are more than welcome to repost this, Pam! I'll look forward to your discussion about 13 REASONS WHY.

September 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterAnn Jacobus

Thank you, Ann. This is very informative. XO

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney McConnel

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