Saturday, September 14, 2013



STOP and read the following clearly. This article may be troubling to somebody thinking about suicide. This article is about personal and factual experiences regarding suicide. Please do not read if you are in a dark place and feeling suicidal. Suicide is never the answer, finding help and support IS. At the end of this article, I listed numerous resources, to obtain more information on this topic, as well as crisis hotline numbers for immediate support. Please utilize these fully.


I’m writing this from a room on one ofthe floors of John Hopkins Hospital’s Affective Mood Disorder clinic. I’mgetting help, for my severe bipolar disorder and these suicidal ideations andthoughts. I am still here in the hospital, it has been 11 weeks. Personally,for me, I get triggers when folks are talking about suicide. Whether it is adiscussion or action of somebody cutting and feeling triggered that way, orbeing triggered because someone is discussing how he or she want to killthemselves.  I have chosen to write thisarticle, so others may be helped and they know they are not alone.

Sowhat is exactly the definition of suicide: Suicide is defined at the “act oftaking one’s own life?” In addition, suicidal ideation is “thinking of endingone’s life.” Some view suicide as a cry for help. I view suicide as a way out,getting to the point where life is just too painful to live. Yes, part of mewants to live, but the other part has given up and cannot handle the highs andlows. I know my friends and family would miss me, but in the end, suicide is aselfish choice. However, most individuals who commit suicide really do not wantto die. Forfolks without a mental illness it is very hard for outsiders to understand whyone would choose to take their own lives. I have heard this comment many atime. “Somebody has cancer and is dying, don’t you think they would be angryknowing they could have lived and you killed yourself on purpose”? What folksdo not get is that it is an illness, and I am hurting. Yes, you are not seeingit, but it does not make it not there. People in the depths of feeling suicidalare in SO much pain, it actually hurts to live, and can see no other way out.

Therapyand medication can also help individuals that are feeling suicidal. While themedication can sometimes take a few weeks to get to therapeutic level, therapycan take place starting right away, and help reduce the thoughts of suicide. 

Becausestatistics vary, the stats below are accurate according to various sources:
TheWorld Health Organization estimates that about 1 million deaths by suicideoccur each year, making it the 10th leading cause of deathworldwide. Of these the highest risk of suicide are white men. However, womenand teens have more suicide attempts. Of these about 30,000 or 2/3s arepatients with major depression or bipolar illness. In addition, even scarier,10-20 million non-fatal attempts are made each year.
Triggers and Risks
Sowhat factors contribute to the sad completion of a suicide or increase therisk?

Whatare the risk factors and triggers (I have chosen to name the predominant ones)?

  • Mental Illness (Depression, Bipolar disorder (especially mixed states, schizophrenia, substance abuse)
  • Means of suicide (i.e. pills, weapons, etc.)
  • Social situation (i.e. living alone, single, recent loss)
  • Severity of mood disorder (hallucinations, mixed states, moods and reasoning),
  • Employment (i.e. new job, job loss, new position)
  • Incarceration/Trouble with the Law (i.e. in jail or prison)
  • Previous attempt within 30 days or exposure to others suicidal behavior, peers, media, etc.
  • Family history of suicide attempts, and/or family history of mental disorder, or substance abuse
  • Physical illness (chronic pain, early on-set diabetes, stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and terminal illness)
  • Relationship Change (new marriage, divorce, break up)
  • History of trauma, abuse, or violence.

Mixedstate bipolar mental illness is the most dangerous of all. This is because depressionand mania are occurring simultaneously.  Somebody in a mixed state has the energy tocommit suicide, and the depression to want to. Being that they are depressedand manic at the same time.

Warning Signs

Whilethis may not entail all warning signs below captures a large amount of the mostcommon signs.

  • Discussing death, such as talking about wanting to die or that life is not worth living. Feeling like you have no purpose to live or no sense of purpose in life.
  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself.
  • Feeling agitated and anxious.
  • Feeling hopeless about future and feeling there is nothing worth living for, wishing you‘d never been born.
  • Hating oneself, and feeling like you are a burden. Feelings of worthless or having low self-esteem.
  • Writing a suicide letter, saying goodbye to friends or family, writing about death or dying.
  • Start withdrawing from family and friends, also isolating and not wanting to leave the house, and deal with society.
  • Looking for lethal means to hurt oneself, such as guns, stock piling pills
  • Preoccupation with death, such as discussing death on a frequent basis.
  • Increase in alcohol and/or drug use.
  • Driving recklessly and obsession with killing oneself will attempt theses self-destructive behaviors.
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled rage, or dramatic mood changes
  • Unable to sleep, or on the other end of the spectrum sleeping all the time.
  • A spurt of energy, allowing the person who is depressed to be able to enact the plan they have developed.1 (i.e. mixed states)
  • Depressed, psychosis, impulsive
  • Crying out for help in various ways
  • Philosophical reason to die (feelings it’s their destiny)

Prevention of Suicide

Howcan we prevent those considering suicide to turn their thoughts around andthink about the positive factors in their life that would, that would make lifeworth living?

Iunderstand how hard this is. While I am still a work in progress regardingreversing my thought and training my brain to see the positive and not thenegative. I am not saying it is easy, but as I am learning, it is possible.

Ipersonally find that when the seasons change, and the light outside get shortermy mood changes. In addition, as silly as this may sound, the full moon throwsoff my mood.

Ifsomebody brings up suicide, ALWAYS take it seriously, talking to the person whois suicidal cannot cause somebody to be worse off. For example, if anindividual seems to be suffering from depression, creating a casualconversation about suicide is not inappropriate. If the individuals reveal thatthey are indeed suicidal, they need all the support they can get. For starters,ask how long that they have felt suicidal, and ask if there was a particulartrigger or cause. Being attentive, as well as listening in a calm manner canhelp the suicidal individual.  

Anotherhelpful tip is to share with the individual any similar situations in which youhave felt depressed, manic, or suicidal as well. The individual will be able torelate which in turn will create an understandable dialog.

Evaluating Suicide Risk:
Sowhat do you do if the people you are discussing suicide with tell you they havea plan and they are going to kill themselves?

Ifthe individual has a plan and the means, the quickest suggestion is to call 911or take the person to an emergency room, or psychiatric facility. If the personwill not budge staying with the individual and calling, a suicide hotline isthe next best thing. Perhaps the hotline can convince them to hand over their“means” of suicide, or convince them to go to a hospital to be evaluated. NEVER leave them by themselves!

Being Supportive and Empathic:
Sohow do you help somebody whom of which is suicidal?  If somebody is suicidal but not in such a badplace that they need quick hospitalization, helping them to find supportwhether through a support group, or professional support and help. Set a safetyplan, for example, that the individual will call you every few hours to checkin. Another suggestion is to remove any means for committing suicide.

Additionallyhelp the person to create a suicide plan during which time they promise todelay suicide by 24hrs…then 48 hrs...etc. Help the individual call theirimmediately doctor, therapist, and/or psychiatrist. If needed go with theperson to the appointment.

Suicide Hotline Information
NationalSuicide Prevention Hotline (available 24/7)

NationalSuicide Prevention Lifeline (available 24/7)

NationalSuicide Hotline

Additional Resources:
NationalInstitute of Mental Health

AmericanFoundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

AmericanPsychiatric Association (APA)

AmericanPsychological Association

NationalAlliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

NationalDepressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA)

NationalMental Health Association (NMHA)

SubstanceAbuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

***Ihave obtained much of this information from various sources available on theinternet. Much of the research I have done for this article is a compilation ofthesesources.