Mental health is hard. Talking about mental health is hard. Life is hard.
In the past couple of weeks two celebrities have tragically taken their lives. I am sure you have seen it; the coverage was all over media outlets. While most of their lives were spent in the spotlight I cannot agree that their deaths should’ve been in the way that I have watched. There have been more than 50 research studies worldwide that have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. Risk of additional suicide increases when the story describes the suicide method, uses images, or glamorizes a death.
I see responses to the media saying that the person was so selfish. Yes, it looks this way. But if you have ever taken the time to speak with someone that has attempted to take their lives, it is quite opposite; their minds are telling them this is the ONLY way to protect those around them and themselves from having to endure any more pain. They do not want to be a burden to anyone anymore. Quite the opposite of selfish.
What should be reported instead of these details are the statistics and things we can do to prevent further hurt if someone we know is struggling.
Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Here are some signs to watch for if someone you know is struggling:
1. If the person talks about:
- Being a burden to others
- Feeling Trapped
- Experiencing unbearable pain
- Having no reason to live
- Killing themselves
2. People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
- Loss of interest
3. Specific Things to look for:
- Increased use of substances
- Online searches for ways to kill themselves
- Withdrawing from activity
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Calling to say goodbye
- Giving away possessions
I see too often people telling other people, “Reach out, call me, I am here for you.” That mentality doesn’t work. If you see a friend, co-worker, or loved one struggling, YOU need to reach out. Call them, go their house, take them to lunch, do SOMETHING. Depression can take a strong hold on people. It can immobilize them to that point that they can’t reach out, even if they want to. People without mental illness, who have never experienced this, cannot understand it. You have to step in and help them. They won’t be mad, they won’t be angry. They will be thankful, I promise.
Remember, there is only so much we can all do to help. The brain is most powerful muscle in the body. If you have been affected by suicide of a loved one or are in the future, it was not/is not your fault. You cannot carry the guilt of the power of their depression.
If you are reading this and you are struggling, know there are people who care, and know you are loved.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255