Suicide is a serious issue for all. In 2015 a total of 3, 027 death were caused by suicide. That is an average of 8.3 deaths per day. If you are not already making plans for action, I hope that this week’s posts will create an unsettling passion in you for change. So that you can recognise and respond to those suffering in silence… our family and friends.
From a young age, many of us have heard and slowly believed that suicide is selfish and attention seeking. This misconception in not uncommon and is sadly used to help us cope with the idea that we are not to blame for such a tragic event. Unfortunately, for some of us, it is not until suicide effects our family, friends or self that we open ourselves up to a different perspective towards suicide and prevention.
For me personally, it wasn’t until I became very unwell that my attitude toward suicide changed. It wasn’t until I was drowning in intense emotional pain that suicide became an ever increasing solution. A solution that I believed could heal and release me from my fear and physical and emotional pain. Sadly, it was an option I believed easier than sharing how I felt with my family and friends. Because of this, I want to share some common misconceptions about suicide that could help save lives.
It only happens to certain people
Suicide can happen to everyone! It does not pick and choose. From an outsider’s perspective I am young, educated, happily married and physically active. There are many risk factors that increase the likelihood of suicidal behaviour. These include substance misuse, chronic pain, exposure to bullying, losing a loved one, relationship breakdowns, disability, witnessing a traumatic event or financial hardships.
There was no warning
“Suicide prevention begins with recognising the warning signs and taking them seriously” (Beyond Blue, 2016). I did not wake up one day, get out of bed and say “I want to commit suicide”. If you look closely, I slowly shut myself off from my loved ones and friends. I became irritable, felt trapped and misused alcohol. I went from being a happily bubbly person to someone who saw no hope for her future.
Suicide is selfish
There is nothing selfish about wanting to find a solution for your pain and suffering. Suicide seemed like it was my only solution during a short-term and situation-specific point in time. During other times I was able to value life over death. I was able to think of others and why I wanted to live my life for myself.
Someone once asked me whether or not I was thinking about my family. I can honestly say no I wasn’t, I was feeling guilty enough for wanting to end my own life. I was only thinking about how I could cope with my own pain and find a solution for it.
Talking about suicide
Talking about suicide does not place the idea in someone’s head. I was desperate to talk to someone about how I was feeling, I just needed someone to ask me “Are you having thoughts of suicide” or “thinking of killing yourself”. The sense of relief when my doctor finally asked me was so great. It was the first step towards getting to a place where I could be safe and take preventative action.
This week I ask you to take time to reflect upon how your attitudes can help or hinder from someone seeking your help for suicide.
Beyond Blue. (2016). Myths and facts. Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/myths-and-facts