Depression and Suicide Awareness & Prevention
I know, you didn't think you'd find this topic on a Building Site. But here we are, and every one I know is multi-faceted, so here we go...
It's the end of August, 2005, and it has been a very sad week for me. I lost a Cousin, Adam (31), to Suicide, and in the same week got a very, very sad email from a Reader who has just lost her 18 year old son, Matthew, to suicide. Man. Two incredible lives lost. Forever. That's the problem with suicide -- its' absolute permanence. And the devastating pain it leaves behind. Not to mention the devastating pain of the person on their way out. So sad.
I met with Matthew's Mom, Diana, yesterday, so we can try to figure out what we can do to help with Depression, Suicide Awareness, and Suicide Prevention. And what can be done for the Families of the Victims (and yes, I think 'victims' is an accurate description) involved, since this is a different type of death, and extremely difficult to cope with.
I told Diana about the Wristbands that you can get for End Poverty Now, Breast Cancer Awareness, the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong Bracelets... the list is endless, but those are the wristbands that we bought for ourselves, to Support these Causes. The great thing about these wristbands is that you can get them for next to nothing, and you can have anything written on them. So they're wonderful for a Memorial Band, with Matthew's name embossed on the Band.
And now for the Much Bigger Picture -- I think we need to start a Movement to Raise Money (because we all know that it takes Awareness and Money to realy help a Cause...) to help with this devasting situation. Diana was telling me some of the Statistics on Teenage Suicide, and the numbers are staggering. 25% of the deaths in this 12 - 19 year old age group are a result of Suicide. How sad is that? I haven't seen a whole lot out there to deal with this issue effectively, so that's why I'm in here, today, writing. I'm sure we can work together to come up with some solid, functional ideas to deal with Depression and the Prevention of Suicide. I know, bcause you've written to me (!), that I have particularly smart and compassionate Readers, so iI figure we can put our heads together, virtually, to solve this terrible problem.
I'll let you know when Diana and I come up with the Wristbands for Matthew. I'll put them on the Site so you can help with the Cause in a smaller, individual way. I'd like to see the wristbands sold at the Junior High and High School Levels -- and at the College & University level, too, since this is often a young person's situation. It can have serious consequences at any age, though, so it's by no means limited to people under 25. The percentages are just higher, sadly enough, in that age group.
Just so you know, this is an issue close to home for me, because I've dealt with tis, myself, when I was a teenager and a young adult. It's a terrible position to be in where you truly feel like death is a reasonable, viable alternative. And you really believe that. I think some of the Studies that do exist on Suicide and Suicide Prevention make the person seem crazy, or have a Mental Illness, when that's most likely not the case. Often it's a Trigger Situation, where something happens that makes the person feel like the situation is so hard to deal with, it would be better if they didn't have to deal with anything at all.
Until we figure out (collectively, as a Society) how to deal with Depression and Suicide Prevention, I have a little idea that might be useful. Actually, a few ideas... First, we need to Raise the Awareness that Suicide is out there, it's killing more children than most people realize, and that if this were a New form of Cancer, there'd be funding galore thrown in it's direction.
For anyone actually dealing with thoughts of Suicide, they could Make a List of any crazy or exciting thing they might want to do. Anything. Because almost anything (not involving hurting any other person or thing) is better than Suicide. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of people who commit suicide are just trying to take a step back from life, but it's a permanent step back, so there must be a way to allow them to make a 'temporary exit' until they get back to their healthier selves. Perhaps a bottle of Gin, or some pill the Doctor can perscribe that they can keep on hand that would let them 'sleep away the pain'. When they wake up, they can start to get some solid treatment that really changes how they think and feel about Life.
Here's the deal on The List -- if someone is thinking about ending it all, anyway, why not have a few 'Last Hurrahs', as it were? (Stay with me...) Here's the plan -- if the person were to have a list of Things I Want to Do, no matter what they are, or how much they cost (in any sense of the word 'cost'), now's the time to try them. With any luck, something might be fun, or intriguing in some way, and then the moments past where the person was feeling suicidal, and hopefully they will be able to get in for Treatment.
The Key is to get past the moment when it hurts so much to be alive,that the alternative seems reasonable. We could encourage every person out there to make up a Personal List of Things I want to Do, or Things I Wish Would Happen, and make sure that list is readily available to glance at in case of need; we might save a lot of lives. I know it might sound ridiculously simple, but anything at all that might work is worth a shot -- and speaking of 'shots', for God's Sake, lock up any Guns or Firearms at all times. Never, ever have ready availability of something that could be used at the spur of the moment. Anything that creates distance between the 'user' and the weapon should be done.
I am a real Believer in the Power of Thought, and the unique ability that humans have to completely change their actual perception of what is going on around them. I feel that Thinking Patterns should be a main focus in Suicide Prevention, and dealing with Depression in general, because it's the underlying belief that death is a viable alternative that clearly has to go. Finding a new way to look at the world, to see other people, and how we perceive ourselves, is a vital aspect of fighting Depression, and ultimately preventing suicide. If everyone knew, absolutely KNEW, that there are alternatives to every action, and every thought, then we'd make some serious in-roads with this terrible problem.
These books have really helped me, over the course of the years, to come to terms with all sorts of difficult issues. We all know that you can't prevent (for the most part) Difficult Situations or Difficult People from crossing our Paths, but we can definitely find a better way to deal with those issues and people. We can become 'Watchers' of our own lives, so you can sit back from yourself to see the Bigger Picture -- a skill that is imperative for anyone dealing with depression. If you can 'sit outside yourself' for a wee minute, or longer, you might be able to see another way, or just ignore the situation altogether. Or be aware of yourself enough to know to go and take a pill or something that will allow you to step back from the situation until you can have a better perspective on life.
Okay, I better leave it at that, for now. Take a minute to make a wee list of your very own you can cart around with you, or keep in your head, on the off-chance you might ever need it. Even if you're in a tricky or horrible situation, think of your wee List, and make a concrete plan to do one of the things on the list either immediately, or as soon as possible. See if that doesn't help... Just remember: There's always something else -- something Great. You just don't know it yet, but you will!
You can get these books at the Library, online or at any Book Store. The important thing is to add these to your current Belief System (a strong Belief in a Higher Power will definitely get you through, too, but I'm thinking that's probably already in place in your Soul).
Oh, and get a Comedy Book, too -- or watch a Funny Movie or TV Show. A good laugh will pull you out of the doldrums, and let you feel a whole lot 'lighter' -- then go and get some help. Tell your Friends, Family, a Paster, your favorite Teacher -- anyone who will truly listen, so you can get the help you need to get through this time, then you'll be amazed at all the cool things that will happen in your life after that.
Please contact me if you have any ideas on what else we can all do to help this Cause. Or to talk. Whatever! I'm here for you, Baby!
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
>I just finished Deepak Chopra's Peace is the Way -- brilliant
book. One of those books you wish everyone on the Planet would
read, then we'd see what a change we could make, all together, 'n all...<
Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End
Illusions, by Richard Bach, is one of my all-time favorite books. It's a great read at any age -- from 16 up.
Get a Wristband -- reminderband.com -- This is a new Company I'm doing business with, and they have all sorts of cool wristbands -- pop in to see what they have for you ... I know they have Tour de France (Lance Armstrong) and Napolean Dynamite Wristbands... and you can customize them with your favorite Player or your School... or your own name -- you get the picture!
In this case, you can have the Name of a Loved One to commemorate their Life, and if you sell them, use the money to set up a Fund for other Kids dealing with difficult issues. Maybe a Scholarship Program in their Name, or for Suicide Prevention Programs...
This is a collection of Books I really like, that think you might like, too. I can't quite figure out how to separate them back out from this fancy grid pattern, so just choose the ones you think will be helpful or entertaining for you. Illusions is an incredible book for looking at life with 'new eyes', so-to-speak!
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http://www.cbs.com/cbs_cares/depression/ I just found this link, but it looks like a very good source for more Info...
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