Caught up in the swirl of a busy life as if each experience, person and event were crisp, autumn fall leaves being kicked up by the breath of life, I almost missed the fact that this week is National Suicide Prevention Week. When I saw the International Bipolar Foundation’s Facebook status update yesterday announcing National Suicide Prevention Week I found myself discussing with my son Paul our experience with suicide and how it has touched our lives. I’d like to invite you to continue reading…below I share a moment in time when an individual had great impact on my thinking about suicide prevention. I share the experience with you in hopes of raising awareness and spreading the word that suicide is preventable.
May 21st, 2010 I found my daughter, who was 20 at the time, within heartbeats of deaths door after a second suicide attempt. At that moment life changed forever for me and my loved ones. You can imagine the affects that such an experience would have on an individual and a family. Let’s just say, we found ourselves on a new life path. I don’t like to linger long in the past so let’s fast forward seven days after I found her. I called someone on her mental health team to discuss what to do when she was discharged from the hospital. At first, I was given valuable and credible information to help us along in the healing process. For example, I was referred to the Karla Smith Foundation who supports families affected by mental illness and suicide. With pen to paper I busily wrote down everything I was told. I didn’t want to miss anything as I searched for ways to support my daughter and also ways to cope myself and to help my family. After a few minutes and a fading conversation the callee and I hung up. It hadn’t dawned on me to ask when my daughter would be discharged. Without hesitation I dialed the number of the person I had just talked to. And here is how it went, verbatim. You see, as a mom and now caregiver at times, I keep records and notes regarding my loved ones health care. I had written down what I was told.
Stacy: “Hello. I’m so sorry to bother you again, but I have one more question.”
Stacy: “Can I find out when she is going to be discharged? Her dad and I were wondering when to pick her up.”
Callee: “You need to stop micromanaging this and get educated. You need to accept that she may complete a suicide attempt.”
You may be wondering how this resonated with me. Well…of course I quickly got off the phone. I sat at my dining room table shaking my head in disappointment and questioning the intentions of the person I had just talked to. I can’t imagine that she has children of her own because if she did I don’t think that she would have uttered those words. I was naturally offended that someone would talk to a distraught mother who was simply seeking help at a time when she was greatly at a loss as to how to proceed with life after such a traumatic event. Also, it is interesting to me that I was told to get educated. That was precisely what I was doing! Mostly though, regarding her comment about accepting suicide, to me personally that type of thinking contradicts the fact that suicide is preventable. According to the American Association of Suicidology, “Last year in the US over 36,000 people died by suicide and over a million adults made suicide attempts. Yet, as for so many public health problems, suicide is often preventable” (http://www.suicidology.org/suicide-prevention-specialist-resources).
To the callee…I am educated, and I will never accept the potential suicide of a loved one! Instead, I will fight for the rest of my life for the support and resources needed to prevent the suicide of my loved ones as well as anyone else! I hope that by sharing this post that I have illuminated the fact that suicide is preventable and the importance of support no matter who we are.
If you find that you are looking for resources regarding suicide prevention either for yourself or a loved one I have listed below several credible resources that you may find helpful. May we never give up on ourselves or our loved ones! We all matter! And life is worth living for!