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    Sarah Schuster

    The Powerful Impact Others' Stories Can Have on People Who Are Suicidal

    Health is hard, but it never has to be lonely. Find support in The Mighty’s safe, 24/7-moderated online community. Connect, share, learn — whatever you need, it’s here. There are few experiences more lonely than feeling like the world would be better off without you in it. When you’re suicidal, your thoughts feed on this isolation, and it can feel like no one understands what you’re going through. The truth is, many people experience suicidal thoughts. In 2020, 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide. While these numbers are large and distressing and we don’t want anyone to ever feel that way, these numbers also mean so many of us have experienced serious suicidal thoughts and survived . These numbers mean millions of people have stories to tell about their own experience with suicidal thoughts, how they got through these tough, painful moments, and what it means to live well with (or maybe eventually, without) the occasional feeling that you don’t want to be here anymore. New research – made possible with help from The Mighty’s community – found that not only can reading stories written by people who’ve experienced suicidal thoughts and attempts make those who are struggling feel less alone, it might actually decrease their desire to die. These stories could actually help people who are suicidal. Millions of people have stories to tell about their own experiences with suicidal thoughts. Looking for additional support? The Mighty has compiled our best and most helpful stories on the topic of suicidality for you, all written by people who have been there. Click here to explore. How We Got Here – and How Our Community Helped At The Mighty, we’ve published over 1,600 personal narratives about suicide, and wow, are these stories special. For a topic that’s so stigmatized and too often presented in black-and-white terms, this collection of stories, written by the incredible people in The Mighty’s contributor network, showcase the experience of suicidality in all of its colors , all of its nuances, and all of its complexities. From stories about what it’s like to survive a suicide attempt , lose someone to suicide , or live with chronic suicidal thoughts , to stories filled with advice and tips for how to get through moments of intense suicidality, our community has steadily been building the largest collection of personal essays about what it’s like to be suicidal on the internet. When there was an opportunity to collaborate with Harvard University’s Nock Lab and Montefiore Medical Center where researchers conduct studies that primarily focus on suicide and suicide prevention, we knew our community could help . The researchers at Harvard and Montefiore were interested in one main question: Could reading stories written by people who’ve experienced suicidality help those who are currently suicidal? We chose Mighty stories to put that to the test, and recruited Mighty members who were willing to participate in the name of advancing suicide research. ____ The Harvard/Mighty Suicide Study: Fast Facts 528 Mighty members participated in the study Participants were either put in a “treatment” group or a waitlist control group Members in the treatment group read one personal essay about suicide every day for 14 days and then answered a daily survey about how they were doing. The survey asked questions about how much they wanted to die, how connected they felt to other people, and how optimistic they felt about their future. Members in the waitlist control group answered the daily survey without reading Mighty stories for the first 14 days. Then, they underwent the same “treatment” as the first group, reading a story about suicide every day for 14 days and reporting how it made them feel. Both groups were given a follow up survey two weeks after receiving the “treatment” to check in on how they were doing. ____ What happened? The people who read a story about suicide every day reported a significantly lower desire to die than the people who didn’t. Eventually, the group who originally did not read Mighty stories were given Mighty stories to read. For this group, the week they didn’t read Mighty stories, their overall desire to die went up. When they started reading Mighty stories, this desire to die stayed the same on average – but stopped getting worse. A note about safety: What a vulnerable thing to do – let researchers know how suicidal you feel on a daily basis. It’s important to note that people who participated in this study were screened beforehand to make sure they weren’t actively in danger, and were given resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line all throughout the process. Similar to other studies like this, participants could pull out at any time, and could reach out to the researchers directly if they had any questions or concerns. For those who read a Mighty story about suicide every day, two factors helped explain why they had lower desire to die: their sense of belonging and their general optimism. This means that while reading a story can’t magically change your life circumstances or cure whatever it is you’re struggling with, it can cut through one of the most insidious features of suicidal ideation: the isolation. The feeling that you’re alone. The feeling that you’re disconnected from the world. Reading stories written by people who have lived through suicidal thoughts or survived suicide attempts made people feel more hopeful about their own future, and hopefully reminded them that no matter how alone suicidal thoughts can make you feel, other people experience them, too. What This Could Mean for Suicide Prevention The idea that people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts could be helped by stories told by people with lived experience is not a new one. Projects like Live Through This have been collecting stories from suicide attempt survivors since 2010, and plenty of mental health advocates are now using social media and other platforms to break the silence about suicide. The peer support movement has meant more people with lived experience are being called to help people with similar experiences, and through both these formal and information connections, it’s easier than ever to find a story about suicide that could instill some hope (or at the very least, set a precedent) that it’s possible to survive moments of intense suicidality. Research like this can be important, though, because while at least most mental health professionals no longer believe talking to someone about suicide could make their suicidal thoughts worse, or even “plant” the idea in their head (a real misconception that needed to be busted ), the way the mental health system formally responds to people who are suicidal is still often punishing. Instead of finding ways to connect suicidal people back to the world, we often physically remove them from it — taking extreme, and too often fear-based and liability-driven , actions like forced hospitalization, resulting in people spending time in inpatient psychiatric hospitals that widely differ in quality of care. We need researchers to explore alternative interventions that rely more on community and connection, and less on reactive risk-assessment and fear. And any intervention created for people who are suicidal should be driven by the people who’ve been there. We need researchers to explore alternative interventions that rely more on community and connection, and less on reactive risk assessment and fear. To me, the most special thing about this research is that it wouldn’t exist without all of you — people in our Mighty community. People who are willing to talk about what’s going on in your heart and minds, get honest and your experiences, and use your stories of survival to offer others hope. To both the Mighty contributors who’ve written stories about your experiences with suicide, as well as the folks who offered to participate in the study, we could not be more grateful for you. We’ve always known your stories helped people — now we just have some research to back it up. Read the full study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

    Community Voices

    Migraine and Sleep Study

    <p><a href="https://themighty.com/topic/migraine/?label=Migraine" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce9c00553f33fe997c0a" data-name="Migraine" title="Migraine" target="_blank">Migraine</a> and Sleep Study</p>
    Community Voices

    the way she feels

    Hello all! I am still new to my diagnosis and had asked around for some literature to read regarding Borderline Personality Disorder. I wanted to share "the way she feels: my life on the borderline in pictures and pieces" by Courtney Cook. It is a graphic memoir talking about her experience with BPD. I recommend looking into the trigger warning before reading it, if you are interested.

    She does talk about eating disorders, sex, body image, skin picking, self-harm, and other difficult subjects.

    I also listen to Therapists in the Wild Podcast, but it is less about living with BPD. They talk about DBT therapy and highlight different skills taught there. If you are someone who needs a little more help understanding or refreshing your memory about DBT, it's been very helpful. It can help you get into the practice of using these skills.

    If anyone else has any recommendations for books, essays, articles, podcasts, etc about BPD, specifically living with it, I'd love to know.

    Thank you!

    #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #BPDDiagnosis #thewayshefeels #readingmaterial #Research #learning

    3 people are talking about this

    Study Shows Telehealth Effective for Borderline Personality Disorder

    Despite treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD) being difficult to access, no published study had examined the efficacy and safety of telehealth treatment for borderline personality disorder (BPD). The current studies that do evaluate telehealth focus on outpatient settings in people without BPD. Given the complexity and intensity of the symptoms (e.g., self-injury, suicidal ideation, rapid fluctuating emotions, impulsivity, franticefforts to avoid abandonment), efficacy and safety considerations have to be made to best adapt telehealth treatment for people with borderline personality disorder. These considerations are especially true for partial hospitalization programs, where people with BPD may be at risk for suicidal and aggressive ideation, may be transitioning from inpatient hospitalization or may need a higher level of care. A new study published in November 2021 from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services project adapted telehealth partial hospitalization treatment and found that it was just as effective as their in-person partial hospitalization treatment in treating people with BPD. Full access to the study can be found here. The Rhode Island Hospital Adult partial hospital program transitioned to a virtual format when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Patients in the virtual and in-person partial hospitalization program were compared on effectiveness, satisfaction and safety. Both treatment modalities remained similar in their structure and content. Specifically, the study found that patients in both groups reported significant improvement in functioning, coping ability/stress tolerance, positive mental health and general well-being. By program completion, more than 95 percent of patients in both the virtual and in-person program reported they were very or extremely satisfied with their treatment. Likewise, more than 95 percent indicated they would recommend the treatment to a family member or friend. Given the risk mitigation strategies in the virtual program, which can be perceived as burdensome or intrusive, the high levels of patient satisfaction in both groups warrants considerable attention. The safety strategies included daily check-ins, daily updates and information on patient location/physical address, on-call clinicians for emergencies and an emergency contact person. The researchers followed a transdiagnostic approach, meaning they used a treatment and measure that targeted the above mentioned areas of improvement (functioning, coping ability/stress tolerance, positive mental health, and general well-being) more broadly. Some patients in the study were also assigned to the borderline personality disorder specialty track. Thus, one limitation of the study is the lack of a BPD outcome measure. Still, the study highlights transdiagnostic improvements that can be made in BPD. Program completion and attendance were also assessed. The study demonstrated that the virtual program attained a higher attendance rate. This result may attest to the accessibility of a virtual format. The authors described that some of the patients in the program had medical conditions that made in-person treatment attendance more difficult to manage. Notably, several patients who were treated in the virtual program described that even in the absence of a pandemic, they would not have presented to in-person treatment. Limited transportation options and parenting were two other accessibility concerns. This study highlights several key factors those of us with borderline personality disorder encounter in our treatment. We often encounter considerable difficulty accessing quality treatment given the shortage of BPD practitioners, stigma, location and other barriers (e.g., financial). BPD may require a combination of treatment approaches and multidisciplinary teams, such individual therapy, group therapy, or intensive outpatient programs. Potential comorbidities can further complicate treatment. BPD is known to present with considerable comorbidity, including psychological conditions such as depression, physical health symptoms, and other disabilities. For example, one study found greater BPD symptom severity was associated higher rates of later physical health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, stomach aches, back pain, bruises, muscular problems, colds and coughs, even when controlling for depression and anxiety. Another study indicated that while BPD is present in about 1-2 percent of the population, the rate wasaround 30 percent for chronic pain patients (e.g., fibromyalgia, chronic back pain). The presence of BPD appeared to intensify pain scores. In my experience with treatment, accessibility issues were an unbearable predicament that overshadowed my decision to drop out and stop pursing treatment. If I did experience a benefit, such as learning a new skill, the potential progress was significantly reduced due to numerous accessibility issues, and progress did not remain over time. I started treatment at 10 years old and was treated by approximately seven different mental health specialists by the time I was 22. Accessibility issues in treatment fostered feelings of shame, hopelessness, mistrust and being misunderstood. For example, my severe sleep disorder and depression that accompanies borderline personality disorder increased further complications. One of my psychologists usually scheduled me for morning appointments, despite my opposition, to which I would arrive 20 minutes late with only an hour or two of sleep that night. The fact that treatment decreased my sleep and compelled me to drive for long periods of time while sleep deprived produced a negative impact on my well-being. I frequently cancelled appointments and dropped out with little to no improvement. I also live with many other disabilities, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). This condition can limit my mobility at times or prevent me from driving. During periods of increased symptoms, along with depression, it may not always be possible to attend treatment, get out of bed or leave the house. It seemed the reasons I needed treatment prevented me from receiving it, and no one cared. People who need virtual or hybrid options for treatment have been advocating to receive it long before COVID-19. We were often denied services that were suddenly created during the pandemic. One significant barrier to this progress is insurance approval/reimbursement, which can hinder attempts to increase accessibility unless appropriate policies are made. It is crucial that virtual options remain post-pandemic, and studies such as these remain an important part to advocate for that change.

    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    Early Mobility Aid Use for Children with CP Research Recruitment

    Researchers at the Ability and Innovation Lab at the University of Washington are conducting a study on early mobility aid use for children with cerebral palsy. We are currently recruiting parents and caregivers of children with cerebral palsy under the age of 8 whose first mobility aid was a walker or orthoses. Our study involves a survey and an optional interview (compensated). If you meet these requirements and are interested in participating, please complete this survey to provide information about you and your child’s experiences: redcap.link/CPcaregiver2021 and share with other parents and caregivers. Please reach out to PhD student Nicole Zaino (nzaino@uw.edu) with any questions. Please share with anyone you think may be interested as well!
    #CerebralPalsy #Research

    Community Voices

    Do You Have Prediabetes

    <p>Do You Have Prediabetes</p>
    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    Raising money for Dementia Australia

    I thought I would give myself a little bit of a boost and let you all know that I am raising money did Dementia Australia!

    I am getting active to beat dementia by participating in and fundraising for the Melbourne Memory Walk & Jog event. I am walking in memory of my Mum who passed away on New Years Day this year.

    This cause if very important to me because dementia is currently an incurable disease and I don’t want anyone else’s family to go through what we did.

    I am overwhelmed by the support I have received already, and I know my Mum would be so proud of me. Please help me reach my goal of $1000 to raise vital funds for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

    A gift of any amount would mean so much to me, plus any donation over $2 is tax deductible. To donate, click the link to my fundraiser below:

    www.memorywalk.com.au/fundraisers/veronicaparker

    I appreciate all your support. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish my goal without your help.

    The support that’s needed now. The research that saves our future.
    #Dementia #dementiaawareness #raisingmoney #Family #AlzheimersDisease #dementiaaustralia #researchfunding
    #Research #uncurabledisease

    Community Voices

    Chronic/Long-Term Pain and Robotics #Pain #Research

    Hi folks! I’m a designer studying for a masters degree in robotics at Bristol Robotics Lab, UK, and am looking for some people to help me out with a survey. I’m including anyone who identifies as living with a long-term pain condition, and it’s really important to me I can hear opinions from those who are directly effected by pain. I think too often technology design doesn’t include the people actually expected to use it. So, if this sounds interesting please take my survey here:

    tiny.cc/painrobotics

    It should take about 20 minutes. I appreciate this isn’t the shortest survey but you can take a break and come back to it if you need.
    There’s more info on the survey landing page, but if you have any questions for me please fire away!

    Thanks for even taking the time to read this, and if this isn’t allowed please just let me know! I truly appreciate any input you have for me!

    Cheers!