Suicide Prevention Week and Blog Hop

SuicidePreventionWeek500 I honestly hadn’t planned to participate in any blog hops this month after wrapping up the Stealing the Wind Blog Tour, but when I saw the post about the Authors Care Blog Hop to raise awareness of Suicide Prevention Week, I felt compelled to write.  While this post isn’t about promotion, I am offering a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate as an incentive for people to comment and participate.  There’s also a grand prize available drawn from all participants.  Click here to enter that drawing and to find links to all the other hop participants.

First off, a few statistics about suicide, just to put the issue in perspective (CDC statistics reported in 2013):

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for youth between the ages of 10 and 24
  • LGBT kids are three times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual kids
  • 16% of students grades 9-12 reported seriously considering suicide at some time
  • 157,000 youth (age 10-24) receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries
  • 4,600 youth (age 10-24) commit suicide each year, 81% of whom were male

When I was a kid in the 1970s, two kids I knew committed suicide.  They were both high school students, both talented, wonderful young women.  I still wonder what their lives would have been like had they not succeeded in killing themselves.  I wonder even more so now that I’m the parent of two teenagers, one of whom attempted suicide a few years ago.  I consider myself so very lucky, and I often think about parents who weren’t as fortunate.  I’m happy to report my child is doing very well these days.  But I still worry.  I probably always will.

So what can we, as adults, do to help teens who are suffering?  First and foremost:  don’t sit5 steps suicide around and do nothing if someone tells you s/he is considering suicide.  You need to act.  Get help.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) is a wonderful lifeline.  Have the person call.  If they won’t, YOU call them: 800-273-8255.  There are wonderful therapies out there, including DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), something that was very useful to my family.  And YES, it’s a family issue.  Blame gets you nothing but heartache.

What else can you do?  Talk to your children and your friends about suicide.  Let them know that if they need you, you’ll be there to listen.  Don’t just assume they’ll be fine.  If you are part of the tension and they don’t want to talk to you, make sure they have other adults or professionals they can turn to.  Look for symptoms that can lead to suicide: depression, substance abuse, hurting behaviors like cutting.  DON’T ignore them.  Yes, it’s difficult to broach the subject, but if you wait too long, you may never get a chance.  Kids model their peers’ behavior, including self-hurting behaviors.  Be a better model for them by talking about the stress and anxiety that go along with being a teenager.  TALK.

Need more resources?  Check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website:  http://www.afsp.org/preventing-suicide Take a look at the five steps to saving lives at http://take5tosavelives.org/ Those five steps include telling 5 people about suicide and suicide prevention.  Tell a friend, a co-worker, a family member.

Thanks for the ear!  Don’t forget to take a moment and comment to be entered in the drawing for the $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate. -Shira

50 comments

  1. Kate - Reply

    Hi Shira,

    I passed your blog on. Thank you for speaking up for the issue, because there was also a time, long ago, when I thought a suicide was the only way to go. Being tossed out of AP Chemistry and placed in ordinary chemistry in high school was such an embarrassment and dishonor to my science-oriented family, you see, that I figured it was literally the end of the world. Teens think differently. Various issues, situations, and results can blow up to tremendous importance. What’s unreasonable to an adult may be a logical course of action to a teen.

    • shira - Reply

      Thanks, Kate. I agree that teens do think very differently from adults. Everything seems to overwhelming and immediate. That’s the reason, of course, that we need to be there to support them! -Shira

  2. Christopher Hammel - Reply

    I am glad you participated in this. As a survivor of 2 previous suicide attempts, once as a teen and once in my early 20’s, I am a firm believer of educating others on suicide prevention & its treatment. When someone is suicidal, or is contemplating it, they only see the end of their problems. What they don’t realize is the ramifications of their death on everyone in their life once they are gone. It took me years to realize that.

    • shira - Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing your painful experience with us, Christopher. I think that’s the hardest thing, understanding how much death affects those left behind. not only that, but that there is happiness to be found in life but that it sometimes takes decades to achieve. *hugs* -Shira

  3. Patricia Nelson - Reply

    Thank you for taking part in this blog hop and spreading the word about this terrible tragedy.

  4. danny - Reply

    Suitable, thanks for taking part in this blog hop. My former dance partner tried to take his life when he was outed. His dream of being a proffesional dancer was destroyed because some idiots and he has to live in a wheelchair. I will never understand people who bully others so much that they see killing themselves as the only solution.

  5. Susan - Reply

    My niece tried to commit suicide, even though she is (to me) a spoiled only child. She has never had to go through what I went through, but because her generation believes suicide is an answer, she tried it. I’m happy to say she is doing fine. Our relationship has suffered, but that is ok, because we each have found a place where life is ok.

  6. Judi P - Reply

    I’m glad that your child is doing better now.
    I don’t know anyone who has tried to commit suicide… but I find the concept so very sad.
    Not just that they felt so lost and alone that they felt they would be better to not be in this world, but also for everyone that gets left behind.
    Thank you for being a part of of this Hop.

  7. Aniko - Reply

    It’s so heartbreaking that there are people, especially teenagers and young adults, who truly believe that the only solution to a temporary problem is a permanent one of suicide. It’s an incredibly important message to get out there that there IS support and a caring ear a phone call or mouse click away.

  8. Lisa - Reply

    Thanks for being part of this. My son was almost one of these statistics. There’s still a possibility that he still could be.

  9. Jodi - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this Shira. I hope you don’t mind that I am sharing this post on FaceBook and Twitter (both of my accounts).

  10. Suze - Reply

    Thanks for this advice Shira. My kids are just at the beginning s of high school so it sounds like a good time to open channels with them on this issue. A girl I sat next to in Art class in junior HS (age 11-13) committed suicide (this would be 76/77) and I think about her occaisionally over the years – why she did it, how she would be now etc.

    • shira - Reply

      Suze- You’re welcome. And yes, I think it’s great to have the discussion. I’d never have expected my child to try to hurt herself. Never. I was so wrong. I’m just thankful she’s doing well. -Shira

  11. Kat - Reply

    This hits close to home for me. My beautiful sister committed suicide at 25 and it was and still is devastating. We had no idea she was experiencing this kind of torment at all and perhaps if she and we had had an awareness of any of these suicide prevention organizations the outcome may have been changed.

    • shira - Reply

      Oh, Kat, I can’t even imagine your pain. I know it came as a shock to me when my child attempted suicide. Unless you’ve felt that way in your life, it’s hard to imagine someone else feeling as though life isn’t worth living. And even then, I think it’s easy to miss the subtle warning signs. Thank you for sharing your story. Sending you hugs and healing. -Shira

  12. Cindi Clubbs - Reply

    Excellent, excellent list. These seem like logical steps but too often we don’t see the signs. This suicide prevention blog hop is the most brilliant idea to get the word out. Thank you!
    cc_clubbs at yahoo dot com

    • shira - Reply

      I agree, Cindi. Recognizing signs, however subtle, is key. Even when you do recognize them, there’s always that sense that “no, it’s not possible.” -Shira

  13. H.B. Pattskyn - Reply

    Hi Shira *hugs*

    You heard about the scare we had with my own teenager last year (thankfully, I think her therapist was mostly overreacting–but thank goodness. Better to overreact and go through the ringer than not react).

    A number of years ago I lost a good friend to suicide. He was smart, funny, sarcastic, talented (vocal, dance, acting), and he had so many friends who loved him. The very worst part of the story is that just a few years ago one of his brothers also took *his* own life. I didn’t know him nearly as well, having drifted from the family after Pascal’s death, but I remember my heart going out to their mother, losing two sons the same way. By all accounts, both young men had everything going for them–but somehow they didn’t seem to see it.

    ~Helen

    • shira - Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Helen. I can’t imagine what your friend’s mother must have felt. And I agree – overreacting is far better than missing the warning signs! -Shira

  14. Ashley E - Reply

    I’m glad to say I never considered suicide, but I can certainly remember days when I was so depressed and so unable to face the world when I simply didn’t get out of bed. It’s so reassuring to know that there are people out there who are willing to listen — even to perfect strangers!

  15. Jennifer - Reply

    Shira, thank you for sharing your blog and the important information on. I agree that for many people (especially teenagers) things other people think are trivial can seem huge and insurmountable. I was like that when I was a younger teen – fortunately never took action on my dark thoughts/feelings.

    I also had a childhood friend whose mother took her own life when my friend was pretty young. It impacted my friend’s life dramatically – in a really negative way.

  16. Jess1 - Reply

    Your post will others to reach out who may need help and caring, and to watch out for some signs.

    • Jess1 - Reply

      Sorry about the unreadable post
      – Your post will help others to reach out to those who need help and caring, and to watch out for some of those signs.

  17. Trix - Reply

    It’s been such a heartrending hop to follow, but I know it will save lives–I’ve learned so much already!

  18. H.B. - Reply

    Thank you for providing statistics and the signs to look for and for spreading awareness. I’ve considered suicide several times in my life and I know what a struggle it is to not take the easy way out sometimes. It really helps to have support.

    • shira - Reply

      Thanks, H.B. There is so much more to life, even when things are the darkest. Support is everything to get through the rough times so that we can live to see the great times. Because they WILL happen eventually! -Shira

  19. Charley Descoteaux - Reply

    Thanks for your post, Shira. Before my own went live i was afraid of being judged as a bad parent. I can’t say it’s *good* to know i’m not alone, but in a way it’s comforting.

    • shira - Reply

      Not a bad parent, Charley. Just a parent. We do the best we can, but we can’t stop every bad thing from happening to our children. We can just do our best and love them! *hugs* -Shira

  20. Trisha - Reply

    Your blog is very good, and I agree with you, we need to talk about it. I’ve heard of kids getting disowned for the silliest of things and being kicked out for being gay is very silly in my opinion. I’ve never considered suicide, but I did self-harm. I know what the pain is like and I can understand people who are driven to it. It always makes me think of Bobby Griffith – Prayers for Bobby – when LGBT suicide comes up. His case broke my heart when I first heard about it. We need to start being proactive in talking about suicide and not stigmatizing those who have attempted or considered it.

  21. Carolyn - Reply

    It’s frightening how many lives suicide touches, not only the effects of the attempts or the ones who succeed, but just thinking about those who contemplate it, the sheer amount of people who are in pain in the world, either with no one knowing or just the thought that no one cares. I’m so glad your daughter is well. Thank you for sharing with us and raising awareness.

  22. Juliana - Reply

    Every time I see the numbers and statistics I am reminded of how difficult it was to be a teen. So very sad. Thank you for participating in this special hop.
    OceanAkers @ aol.com

  23. Alex Draven - Reply

    Depression can be a fatal disease for anyone, but teens and young people are often under such extraordinary pressures … the goth / alt scene is often seen by parents as causing or encouraging their kids to self-harm or consider suicide, when for me and many others I know, being around people who are willing to talk about those things, where those feelings are expressed and explored, can provide an essential lifeline.

  24. C.M. Trudell - Reply

    All great tips, and so needed.

    Susan, I would caution anyone against comparing their experiences and pain w/that of others. Some may not go through what we’ve been through, but the reverse is true, as well. The significant thing here is, as your post shows, suicide can affect *anyone* – even someone who appears to be privileged in comparison to others.

    In addition to the list shown, another thing we should do is to stand on guard for signs of bullying. We all know what a major factor this is in propelling some young people towards the degree of depression that leads to suicide. We must not only look for signs of struggle in our children, but signs that they could be complicit in causing that struggle in other kids. Helping to heal and reform a child who engages in bullying is another important tool in suicide prevention.

  25. Kristi Dahl Balch - Reply

    I’m so glad people are becoming more aware of suicidal feelings that if not checked, can lead to suicide. My mother in law committed suicide 14 years ago. My son will never know his grandmother. She suffered with very bad bipolar disorder her whole life. I guess she thought it would be easier for her son if she waited until he was 21. Well, he understands why she did it and knows she was suffering so much he did finally forgive her. I make sure to have pictures up and show her grandson so he will know about her. I refuse to treat it as a dirty secret to sweep under the rug.
    I’ve struggled with mental illness most of my life. I think of suicide daily, that’s unfortunately the norm for me. I’ve had about 4 serious attempts and one hospitalization that prevented a 5th serious attempt. A few weeks after I got out of the hospital one of my close friends committed suicide. It was shocking and I’m still wracked with guilt wondering what I could have done. I didn’t even know he was feeing depressed, much less suicidal. We both had talked extensively about times we felt hopeless and suicidal and we PROMISED each other that neither of us would ever kill ourselves. I think about him literally every day. I’m going to miss him forever!!!!! I get sad and angry at him, it goes back and forth. I still promise not to commit suicide because it would hurt the people I love. That’s the only reason that keeps me hanging on…. It would end my pain but spread so much pain that I couldn’t possibly do it. I’m lucky to find a shoulder to cry and lean on always in Jesus. I’m always praying for everyone with mental illness to get the help they need. No one person can navigate serious thoughts of suicide safely. We need to normalize talking about our feelings, we need not mock or be annoyed by people’s mental illness and or suicidal ideation. I know because I wish people would listen to me. I guess people think I’m being overdramatic when I speak of my mental illness feelings. I think people get tired of hearing you’re depressed but do they not understand how very very tired I am of feeling like this!!! It just adds insult to injury. I don’t have anyone to listen to me and I will never treat anyone else the way I am treated.

    • shira - Reply

      I agree, Kristi. It’s so important to get the word out for people to keep their eyes and ears open. Better safe than sorry, and a shoulder doesn’t cost a penny!

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