First things first, if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please contact the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential support at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741741.
As a survivor of suicide loss know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE, on any side of the topic. Suicide can be difficult to talk about. Stigma and shame surround the topic, which is often why someone thinking of suicide does not reach out for help. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding suicide also occurs after a suicide death. Talking about it is tough, for the survivors and for the people around them.
As someone who, on Monday, June 29, 2015, lost his extremely independent, beautiful, loving, giving, hard working, crafty, likable, pain-in-the-butt mom to suicide at the young age of 54, the stigma is real. But now, after two-plus years, I’m pushing back and not allowing that ignominy to fester any longer.
If you have been impacted by the suicide death of a family member or friend, let me be the first to confidently tell you that their death is NOT your fault.
My mother blessed me with two of my greatest gifts: life on this earth and the life changing nudge toward new life in Christ. She never once shied away from striking conversation with a stranger, always left a lasting impression on anyone she met, and continuously made time to lend a hand.
As long as she wasn’t focused on herself, she was happy.
We hear these stories regularly of individuals who have passed by way of suicide. Great people who, under various circumstances, are overcome and seemingly trapped by intense emotional pain. Research shows that 90% of people who take their lives may have been suffering from a mental health issue, which can cause enormous suffering and irrational thinking. When hopelessness and challenging life events are added to the mix, the person can become so emotionally or psychologically overwhelmed they see no other way out.
These observations continued to ring true for my dear mom. Her story is like that of many others who have gone before us: an onslaught of medical issues, bills, stress, depression, loneliness and illogically feeling as nothing more than a burden to those around her. These events and issues cause deep emotional and psychological pain.
You may be wondering: do I hate, now, seeing other people hanging out with their moms? Families walking around together post-brunch? Friends posting about it on Facebook?
Not at all. I love it. Though I obviously wish we still had opportunities to hang and make a difference together, I’m grateful that others are taking advantage of the opportunities they still have in our uncertain world. My brother and I have had many wonderful days together with her, filled with laughs, and hugs, and adventures. Memories that will forever live with us. Today, we’ve been blessed with many strong, loving, and caring women in our newly extended family via my beautiful wife, Kayla, and I’s marriage.
What I do hope for is that we can continue to push back the stigma that surrounds suicide, and bring it from darkness to light. The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and other mental health conditions.
Together, we can remove the stigma and work towards ending the 40,000+ annual deaths by suicide. Take any warning sign seriously. These include:
– Talking about wanting to die
– Looking for a way to kill oneself
– Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
– Talking about being a burden to others
– Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
– Acting anxious and/or agitated
– Engaging in reckless behavior
– Sleeping too little or too much
– Withdrawing or feeling isolated
– Displaying extreme mood swings
You are not alone. You are known and loved.