father and daughter hugging

Dear Strangers,

I remember you. 10 months ago, when my cell phone rang with news of my father’s suicide, you were walking into Whole Foods, prepared to go about your food shopping, just as I had done only minutes before.

But I had already abandoned my cart full of groceries and I stood in the entryway of the store. My brother was on the other end of the line. He was telling me my father was dead, that he had taken his own life early that morning and through his own sobs, I remember my brother kept saying, “I’m sorry Deborah,  I’m so sorry.” I can’t imagine how it must have felt for him to make that call.

And as we hung up the phone, I started to cry and scream as my whole body trembled. This just couldn’t be true. It couldn’t be happening. Only moments before I was filling my cart with groceries, going about my errands on a normal Monday morning. Only moments before my life felt intact. Overwhelmed with emotions, I fell to the floor, my knees buckling under the weight of what I had just learned. And you kind strangers, you were there.

You could have kept on walking, ignoring my cries, but you didn’t. You could have simply stopped and stared at my primal display of pain, but you didn’t. No, instead you surrounded me as I yelled through my sobs, “My father killed himself. He killed himself. He’s dead.” And the question that has plagued me since that moment came to my lips in a scream: “Why?” I must have asked it over and over and over again. I remember in that haze of emotions, one of you asked for my phone and asked who you should call. What was my password? You needed my husband’s name as you searched through my contacts. I remember I could hear your words as you tried to reach my husband for me, leaving an urgent message for him to call me. I recall hearing you discuss among yourselves who would drive me home in my car and who would follow that person to bring them back to the store. You didn’t even know one another, but it didn’t seem to matter. You encountered me, a stranger, in the worst moment of my life and you coalesced around me with common purpose — to help. I remember one of you asking if you could pray for me and for my father. I must have said yes, and now when I recall that Christian prayer being offered up to Jesus for my Jewish father and me, it still both brings tears to my eyes and makes me smile.

In my fog, I told you that I had a friend, Pam, who worked at Whole Foods and one of you went in search of her. Thankfully, she was there that morning and you brought her to me. I remember the relief I felt at seeing her face, familiar and warm. She took me to the back, comforting and caring for me until my husband could get to me. And I even recall as I sat with her, one of you sent back a gift card to Whole Foods; though you didn’t know me, you wanted to offer a little something to let me know that you would be thinking of me and holding me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. That gift card helped to feed my family, when the idea of cooking was so far beyond my emotional reach.

I never saw you after that. But I know this to be true: If it were not for all of you, I might have simply gotten in the car and tried to drive myself home. I wasn’t thinking straight, if I was thinking at all. If it were not for you, I don’t know what I would’ve done in those first raw moments of overwhelming shock, anguish and grief. But I thank God every day I didn’t have to find out. Your kindness, your compassion, your willingness to help a stranger in need have stayed with me until this day. And no matter how many times my mind takes me back to that horrible life altering moment, it is not all darkness. Because you reached out to help, you offered a ray of light in the bleakest moment I’ve ever endured. You may not remember it. You may not remember me. But I will never, ever forget you. And though you may never know it, I give thanks for your presence and humanity each and every day.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment a stranger — or someone you don’t know very well — showed you or a loved one incredible love. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

*Sign up for our Mental Health Newsletter*

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In the United States, there are an average 117 suicides per day.

In 2014, 7 out of 10 of those deaths were men.

For many years now, this has been a theme: Men take their own lives at a rate nearly four times more than women. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for males. The rising suicide rates in men has been called an “epidemic” in both medical journals and newspapers alike.

What’s even more troubling in light of these statistics, is that men are still half as likely to be diagnosed with depression than women. This means that although men are hurting, they aren’t reaching out and aren’t receiving proper treatment.

We spoke to Dr. John Oliffe, founder and lead investigator of the University of British Columbia’s Men’s Health Research program, to explore some of the reasons why suicide rates are so high among men, and learn what we can do to support men in our lives who need to know it’s OK to reach out for help.

Here are some potential factors:

1. Symptoms of depression can be harder to see in men.

Dr. Oliffe explained that even when men do seek help, they often present symptoms we don’t generally associate with depression.

“Irritability, alcohol overuse, getting into violent situations. Those can be depressive symptoms in a man,” he said. “Even as clinicians, we don’t think of that.”

This isn’t to say men never cry or show what may be considered “stereotypical” symptoms, but it does mean it’s easier for warning signs to slip through the cracks. Dr. Oliffe said he’s found in his research men themselves have a hard time identifying when they’re depressed, and when interviewed, will rarely use the word “depression,” opting for “stressed.” 

According to HeadsUpGuys, an online resource for men facing depression and their loved ones, other signs of depression include significant weight change, loss in concentration, reckless behavior and physical pain like backaches and headaches — signs easy to overlook for those who think depression is just sadness.

2. If men are uncomfortable expressing their emotions, they’re more likely to isolate.

If a man feels like he has to be “strong” — and therefore not vulnerable — he may begin to isolate himself instead of opening up. This is especially dangerous, considering lack of connectedness is a risk factor for a suicide attempt. 

“It’s not just the lonely guy in the corner,” Dr. Oliffe explained. “They can have people around them, they’re just not connected.”

3. Men are more likely to attempt suicide using lethal means.

When attempting suicide, men are more likely than woman to use lethal means. One study found that 62 percent of males, versus 40 percent of females, used hanging or firearms in their suicidal actions. This means for every suicide attempt, it’s more likely a man will actually die.

All men are different. But if you have a man in your life you’re worried about, here are some things Dr. Oliffe said might help:

Don’t take away his sense of control: If a man is refusing to seek help, Dr. Oliffe suggests reaching out to him in a non-confrontational way. Encourage him to seek help in a way that gives him control over the situation.

Find him a community: Dr. Oliffe suggests offering alternatives to traditional pathways of receiving support. If a man refuses to see a doctor, maybe there’s a community-based service in your area you can point him to.

Follow-up: Recovery is a process, and just because a guy reached out for help and is acting more like “himself,” doesn’t mean there won’t be pitfalls. Continue to be supportive and patient throughout his recovery. There often isn’t an easy, quick fix.

Educate him about depression and mental illness: Depression and other mental illnesses aren’t weaknesses. It doesn’t make someone “less of a man.” Encourage him to learn about biological causes of depression. Point him to online resources like HeadsUpGuys, where real men are championing the conversation about depression.

Because the conversation about suicide needs to change. And it start with us.

To see more work from Dr. John Oliffe, check out his project Man Up Against Suicide, which is funded by the Movember Foundation.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Since I’ve begun sharing how I went from a being a pastor to being hospitalized in a psych ward, people often ask about my recovery. Everyone wants to know, is there a single solution? Where does the magic lie? How do they get their own lives (or their loved ones’) back? Or, as others have said, “What is the one thing that made you want to start living again?”

The truth is, there’s no magic formula, but here are some intentional steps that made my life better. I’m not a professional therapist, and everyone has a different recovery story. I can only share from my own experience.

Here are five steps that helped me recover after my suicide attempt:

1. Accepting treatment. 

If I had cancer, you can bet I would take chemo. I might also listen to the naturopath’s advice to drink special juices and cut out refined sugars, or to follow the path of meditation to wholeness. But I would still take chemo.

Mental illness is a real thing. A disease. When the doctor says the chemicals in your brain aren’t firing correctly and a certain medication will help level you out, listen to the doctor.

It took a few tries to find the meds that were right for me, but it’s worth the hassle. Some made me too sleepy, some made me too grumpy, but eventually we settled on meds that helped me find my new normal.

Again, I’m no professional, but don’t rely on your primary care physician to help you sort out the complicated maze of mental health. You wouldn’t go to your family doctor for cancer treatment, so why would you do that for psychiatric needs?

Counseling was also an important part of my recovery. After my suicide attempt, spending time with a professional saved my marriage and, ultimately, my life.

2. Stop apologizing.

When my son was a toddler, he went through a very difficult time with his stomach. Frequently, he would vomit and make major messes. Each time, he would cry. “Dada,” he would say, “I’m sorry I frowed up.” My son couldn’t control having stomach trouble any more than I can control a panic attack in the middle of the work day. Both are inconvenient and problematic, but I wouldn’t choose anxiety or depression any more than someone would willingly choose to vomit.

I don’t owe anyone an apology for my mental illness. You don’t either.

3. Find a strong support system.

There are those who care about your soul, and there are those who only care to know what’s going on. It’s important to know the difference. Surround yourself with those who are willing to walk with you through the hard days. Be gracious with those who love you, but can’t help you.

4. Practice self-care.

Get good, solid, uninterrupted sleep. Don’t stay up all hours of the night to binge on your favorite show or read just one more chapter. I find when I’m tired, my symptoms are worse.

I’ve also learned to practice better eating. I’m a busy guy, and I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. See how I just made two excuses? No more excuses. Take your nutrition seriously. I’m not saying you have to join a gym, or post before and after pictures on social media. I’m just saying to eat as healthy as you can and as regularly as you can. It will help you feel better and get the most out of your day.

As a person with mental illness, there are so many triggers I can’t control — but I do have control over how I take care of myself.

5. Focus on the recovery, not the stigma.

The stigma of mental illness sucks. But worse is not getting better. And all any of us really want is to get better. Remember this: you are not your diagnosis. So, use your diagnosis to design a recovery plan and keep moving forward. Mental illness is not a death sentence.

Follow this journey on I Am Steve Austin. Click here to sign up for his free “Manifesto for Hard Days.”

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


This piece was originally written by Princess Gabbara, a Black Doctor contributor.

In this country, more people die of suicide than homicide. That’s alarming. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes. That’s approximately 30,000 people each year. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If 30,000 doesn’t sound like a big number to you, then think of it this way: In the past three years alone, nearly 1 million people have taken their own lives. With that many suicides, there’s a good chance you may know someone who’s committed suicide or someone who’s been affected by suicide in some way.

Here are three things you need to do if you suspect that someone in your life is considering suicide.

1. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Sometimes people fear that if they approach a suicidal friend or family member that it’ll somehow increase those negative thoughts. The truth of the matter is if someone already has suicidal thoughts, confronting them isn’t going to push them further to their breaking point. In fact, approaching them may do some good because it let’s them know someone cares. The sooner you intervene, the better. One approach to starting the conversation is to keep it somewhat vague. You can begin by saying something along the lines of, “You haven’t been yourself lately. Is everything OK?”

2. Say the right things.

Often times, people who are considering suicide are suffering in silence. There’s nothing wrong with approaching that person, but remember that suicide is a sensitive subject, so you have to be delicate and nonjudgmental. That said, avoid saying things such as, “Just be positive” or “Your family and friends will be so hurt.” Do, however, let them know they’re not alone and that you’ll be there to support them every step of the way as they get through this difficult time in their lives. Use the conversation as a way to educate them as well. Inform them that help is out there and there are even anonymous suicide prevention hotlines they can call. More importantly, let them know how much their life means to you – be sincere, be genuine.

Read the rest on BlackDoctor.org.


On Feb. 16, in an interview with Ellen Degeneres, Ronda Rousey revealed she experienced suicidal thoughts after her crushing loss to Holly Holm at the UFC 193 MMA match in November.

“I was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ I was literally sitting there, thinking about killing myself,” Rousey told Degeneres. “In the exact second, I was like, ‘I’m nothing, what am I going to do anymore? No one gives a sh*t about me without this.’”

Rousey’s admission shocked many, and when other pro fighters weighed in on the remark, the support wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

Mike Tyson told TMZ he believed Rousey’s thoughts were merely representative of a “moment in time.” At a UFC press conference in Albuquerque on Feb. 17, Holm commented, “In the long run, she’ll be stronger mentally from it.”

When TMZ caught up with Rousey on Tuesday in Los Angeles, they asked about the feedback she’s received since her appearance on “The Ellen Show,” and she held nothing back. Referencing the work she’s done with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a free clinic in L.A., Rousey brought up that the organization’s last public event was focused on “erasing the stigma” of suicide.

“[T]aking the stigma away from everything suicide and making it actually acceptable for people to talk about and look for help and not feel ashamed of themselves for it — I think that should be encouraged,” Rousey told TMZ, adding that both her father and his father took their own lives. A family history of suicide is considered an increased risk factor, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

It’s not about damning people, and I feel like there’s been an overly negative light on that,” she continued. “It’s something real people are going through, not something like a weakness that we should condemn.”

“I’ve never shied away from talking about suicide,” she added. “It’s really heavily affected our family, and anything I can do to make sure it affects as few people as possible, I’d be happy to do that. I don’t see why [my comments are] looked at as a bad thing. I only saw how big of a deal it was afterwards. I was just being honest.”

Watch Rousey’s interview in the link below:

Ronda Rousey is using her post-loss suicidal thoughts as a fuel under her fire.

Posted by TMZ on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

 

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

h/t Huffington Post


You’ve plagued me for as long as I can remember. You’ve stopped me from doing things I wanted to do. You’ve stopped me from relying on friends. You and your friend depression have ripped away my confidence in everything.

Why am I here? I ask this on a daily basis. You come to me in the nighttime and steal away my energy. You never gave me the chance. You tell me to stay in my room when the sun is shining. You say I’m never good enough for people. You say I’ll never be worthy of the love people give me. You say the future doesn’t have anything to wait for. You say I’ll never fulfill my dreams. You remind me every day not to have hope. You say a man will never love me for who I am. You stop me from loving my imperfections and make me detest my faults, as if they were the only part of me.

This is what you tell me, suicidal thoughts. But this is what I want to tell myself:

You are special. You will fail in this life but I beg of you get back up. Ask for help when you need it. Turn away the pride. Help those in need because they will always be there. Always believe you are worth it and you will somehow change the world, because you will. Haters are always gonna hate, but believe in yourself. Don’t take the easy way out. Struggle, struggle with all your might and conquer. Remember you are loved, even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you feel like you could die today and no one would care. Never stop trying because you will do something incredible someday. It will be hard. It will hurt. It will feel like your bones are breaking and your soul is crushed. Be strong. I believe in you and love you. I can’t wait to cheer you on every day I can.

Suicidal thoughts, this is goodbye for now. I’m not as naïve to think we won’t meet again. That you won’t charm me with your army of falsehoods. It isn’t my choice to live in the world of mental illness. Life will always be up and down, but the reason I’m writing this to you is to say I will fight. I will fight against everything. I will fight you in the best way I can.

I will admit, some days I will lose. I will swim in the endless ocean of depression and the lies that come with it. However, there are battles I will win. Little victories that will add up in time. I don’t believe you anymore. I am worth it.

One day I will look in the mirror and love myself, and I hope you do, too.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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