The Top 5 Things This Survivor Wants You To Know About Suicide Prevention
“Stop and think” about this. [Support links are located at the bottom of this article. Some aspects may be triggering, be safe].
1. We probably don’t have loving support, like you think we do: When someone discloses their thoughts of committing suicide, the most popular response is that this person should “stop and think” about their parents, friends & family who love them.
A common harsh reality is that a lot of us are also trauma and abuse survivors. Particularly in cases of suicidal teens, this abuse is enabled and/or perpetuated by parents and family members – So, the people we’re asked to “stop and think about” are usually part of the problem; and are a larger part of the issue than other aspects of popular culture are currently willing to admit to.
2. We’ve been “reaching out” for ages, but were dismissed or turned away: It’s common to think that a person just hasn’t tried “enough” or simply gives up too “easily”.
In my six years of Crisis/Support work (trained volunteering on a co-founded platform), I have yet to encounter anyone who truly just does not want to make the effort. From experience, I will say that there are two main roadblocks that cause this kind of disconnect: Emotional dismissal due to “othering” (age, status, class differences) & Lack of access to services.
When talking about support services, it is important to remember that “available” does not always mean “useful” or “accessible”, even though we wish it did. In a nutshell, the majority of Canadians in 2019 are living in a time where any “coverage” that still exists will typically only allow for 5 to 7 visits. Mental issues and traumatic injuries just simply cannot be effectively healed nor addressed in that kind of time frame. Beyond that, there are issues of costs and fees that most can’t pay; Then there is the issue of whether or not the patient has mobility needs – if the offices can accommodate walkers and wheelchairs – and, finally, if the treatment plans are up to date with the current realities of patient experiences.
I write this as an Ontario-born, Non-partisan, wheelchair-bound, captivity survivor in her mid-20s. Outside of my work and worldwide advocacy, I, myself, have been a mental health patient since 2011. Over this near-decade, I have repeatedly faced all the barriers mentioned above. Due to the nature of my trauma in itself, my team struggles to know how to treat me; because there just aren’t many stories like mine in this part of the planet (so I’m told). Mobility needs are the reason why I was turned away from Domestic Violence Shelters four times. My local Eating Disorders Unit flatly refused to do a full intake because – regardless of how committed and motivated for recovery that I personally was – they had already decided that I was “beyond help”. That was a few years ago. I’m still here, so, there was hope for me and they were wrong. But, surviving doesn’t change the fact that this was unnecessary. And it doesn’t mean the system’s not broken. Just because someone survives a problem doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem & it doesn’t mean they deserved to go through it and it doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.
3. Depression has a spectrum or “scale” of Severety: It is common to speak of depression with undertones of a ‘one-fits-all’ notion. Most statements and suggestions are well-intended, but are, ultimately not true to the patient’s needs at that point in time.
Common suggestions include changes to diet, exercise and the amounts of time spent outside. These are certainly helpful when the person is within the more mild to moderate degree, but, can pose further dangers and risks when someone is in immediate crisis or has a more severe cluster of symptoms – For example: Taking a walk is an opportunity to jump into traffic, so, would not be the best suggestion for someone at a crisis point. Therefore, please be mindful of your person’s own levels, as they reach out to you. At the very least, pause a short moment more just to make sure you’re truly listening at your best capacity and not just throwing out cliches. Cliches are habitual (often “normalized” by media, consumerism and stigma), you don’t necessarily need any sort of specialized training to overcome them; but, overcoming them can be one of the most helpful things to do – both for yourself and those around you, who may need you someday.
4. Depression is often only one part of the picture: Depression is a very real disorder on its own, though it usually appears alongside several other disorders, as well. The mix of disorders can often influence the effectiveness of medication or other treatments.
In my case, my depression also came with Bipolar II, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anorexia Nervosa. Having Anorexia meant that the standard suggestions of diet and exercise would only worsen a crisis. Having Bipolar II meant that an antidepressant wouldn’t be enough without also being combined with a mood stabilizer. So, keep an open mind, when seeking treatment or tracking the progress. The path is rarely straight and narrow.
5. If you don’t know where to start, ask your Family Doctor/General Practitioner: It is common for our GP’s to only pop into our minds when it comes to flu season or annual physicals – but they can be a goldmine for mental health supports and knowledge of community resources, too.
Contacting mine was the best thing I ever did, and mine listened when shelters and school counsellors did not. He also knew me better than they did, so, had a better overall understanding for what was really going on or what I was really asking for. From my experience in Crisis Work, the GP doesn’t often cross a patient’s mind as being a potential resource. If you don’t have an official family doctor, find a walk-in clinic, mobile crisis team, transitional case manager or an Emergency Room (ER) Specialist.
“Some people prefer rubies to emeralds; but that doesn’t make the emerald any less of a gem” ~ (c) H.J / author H.J
>> Reach out to H.J (author): https://mobile.twitter.com/TheOnlyHJwriter
If you or someone you know needs support, please keep these tips in mind and try out the following resources. You matter and are needed, take care!
ENGLAND / UNITED KINGDOM: https://www.samaritans.org/