Suicide

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    Have you lost a loved one to suicide in the past 5 months?
    You may be eligible to join a Columbia University study, aiming to learn how people heal from the unique grief that follows suicide loss.

    Survive Together: Suicide Loss Survivor Study

    Why Are We Conducting This Study? In 2016, nearly 45,000 people died by suicide in the Unites States alone. For each suicide, somewhere between six and 20 family and friends are affected. Every year around one to three quarter million people are touched by suicide. Despite this growing need, there remains much to be learned about how people bereaved by suicide can grow and recover in the wake of a loss. During the acute stages of grief (i.e. less than six-months post loss) habits and tendencies relating to how a person thinks and feels about the loss develop. These mental habits can set the course for the rest of the grieving process. As a result, this represents a critical time period in which to develop a potential intervention. For this reason, the Survive Together research study at the New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry seeks to understand the thoughts, feelings and brain-responses that occur during acute grieving which promote long-term growth and wellness. This knowledge will serve as the basis for a treatment strategy aimed at helping people grow and thrive in the wake of their loss. What Can You Do? The Survive Together study presents an opportunity for suicide loss survivors to contribute to our mission of helping people grieving suicide. We are looking for people who have lost a loved one to suicide within the past five months. You can participate even if you do not live near NYC. If interested, please contact schneck@nyspi.columbia.edu for further details. How Does This Work? The human brain is equipped with resilience tools that help a person grow and thrive after painful events. However, not all people are able to respond to painful events in this way, and sometimes the pain is too overwhelming. Survive Together aims to identify the resilience tools that help people adapt and grow in the wake of a suicide loss, using a brain imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI). By identifying the brain’s resilience tools for dealing with suicide-loss, we will be able to develop treatment techniques to help people use their brain more effectively to find wellness, meaning and growth after losing a loved one to suicide. Please note: This study is recruiting until 2023, however participation is only possible within five months after loss.

    So glad you're here 👋

    The Mighty offers a safe, supportive community for people who talk about suicidality with compassion and without judgment. We'd love to hear from you.

    Join The Conversation Today
    If you or someone you love needs support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at '1-800-273-8255', the Trevor Project at '1-866-488-7386' or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting 'START' to '741741.'
    Whether you have struggled with suicide yourself or have lost a loved one, know you are not alone. The Mighty is a proud partner of American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. Click below to access AFSP's wealth of resources.
    Jody Betty

    If You Don't Want to Live Anymore or Want to Die, Read This

    Get our most helpful mental health articles and tips delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our Mental Health Matters newsletter. The rate of suicide is on the rise worldwide in all age categories. It affects all ethnicities, cultures and religions. It is bias-free. It is a last resort, a desperate attempt to quell the never-ending and relentless pain that monopolizes your mind. It has become the only feasible way to rid yourself of the burdensome weight that has dragged you to this level of despair. That is how I’ve felt anyway, the countless number of times I have and do fall into the darkness. And because I can empathize, take a minute to read this letter to you. Dear You. If you are reading this there is a small piece of you that wants to hold on. I am so proud of you for reaching out, even if you have done so without words. You have kindly given me a few minutes of your time, and I do appreciate that. I want you to live. I want you to want to live. I won’t feed you some bullshit like it’s all going to be OK with time because it may not be, and it may not turn out as you wish, but you will never know if you don’t stick around to find out. I will instead tell you I am here with you. Let’s take this a minute at a time. I will remind you that although I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I will be by your side to find out. You are so important. I won’t make you feel selfish by telling you to stick around for your family or friends, because I know you feel that leaving would not only end your burden, but theirs as well. I will tell you someone loves you despite how you feel inside. I will remind you that you are not and never will be a burden. You may not see or even hear it, but someone out there values your life; I value your life. I don’t know you, but I do care because I can empathize with your pain; I feel it myself. You are incredibly strong. I won’t ever tell you that you are being dramatic and don’t really want to die. I will instead be here to listen and validate your feelings because they are as significant as you are. I am so proud of you for still staying with me. I won’t ever tell you things could be worse or that other people have it worse than you and don’t want to die. I will acknowledge your despair and lack of hope. I will never compare your pain to another’s. It would be like observing two gunshot wounds, one in the chest and one in the leg. Yes, it is worse to get shot in the chest, but it does not take away the pain of being shot in the leg. You are beautiful.I won’t use the old adage “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” I will say that your problems might not be temporary, but I will be with you and help you to find a coping mechanism that works for you. I will tell you suicide is simply not a solution. I won’t shove the ideas of therapy or medication down your throat as that will not help at the moment. I will ask some of the most important words of all: H ow can I help?” I will provide you with a suicide hotline ( 1-800-273-8255 or text the word “start” to 741-741.) You are a warrior. Your track record of making it through trauma, heartbreak and devastation is 100 percent. Despite the rocks life has thrown at you, you have emerged with scars and grit. You have proven wrong those who expected you not to make it, those who gave up on you long before you gave up on yourself. You are amazing. You have a purpose in this life, whether you realize it at this point or not. Your book has so many chapters to be written. You are needed, your voice and your story are essential for someone, be it a stranger or a friend. You are your own hero. You have done what you think you cannot do. You have looked death in the face, stared it down and walked away having won another battle in your war. If you are still reading this, I am incredibly proud of you for stopping what you were doing and giving me a few moments of your precious time. Just reading this is the beginning… you have extended your arm, you just have to unclench your fist. I implore you to keep this conversation going, be it with a hotline, a friend or family member, or even me by emailing jody_betty@hotmail.com. You have taken the first step; let’s make it to the second together. You are loved.

    I Want to Die VS I Want the Pain to Stop

    I didn’t want to die. I only wanted the pain to stop: the pain that encircled and squeezed my ribcage, the heaviness that wrapped my brain in shadow, the agony that turned the whole world dark. I needed it to cease. It wasn’t one large trauma that convinced me death was my only option, but an unending series of small griefs that stole my hope. The everyday pressure of life became an unrelenting assault: a heavy hand upon my shoulder that crushed me. One morning I had a minor argument with my husband and, like the proverbial straw on the camel’s back, it broke me into pieces. And so I decided I had only one choice that made any sense at all. I felt everyone would be better off without me. I made a plan. I wrote letters to my family. Through my tears, I called my beloved brother to say goodbye. The realization of what I was saying took mere moments to settle upon his understanding and then, quickly, it sank in and he sprang into action. He cut me off, hung up on me and called my husband immediately. My husband sprinted from his office building and, frantic, searched me out using an app on his phone. He flagged down a policeman. Called the ambulance. Got me to the hospital. I drank the sludgy charcoal grit from a paper cup as I lay on the gurney and wept. I didn’t want to die. I only wanted the pain to stop. The darkness was so thick. I could not see my children. I could not see the life I had made with the man I had chosen 25 years earlier. I could not see my family, the siblings who knew me from birth, the parents who held me since before I could remember. I could notsee my friends, who would have willingly grieved with me and encouraged me if only I had let them. I could not see the love. There was love all around me, but it was pushed away by the darkness, forcefully evicted from my consciousness by the suffocating black. At the psychiatric hospital, I was surrounded by people whose experiences were much like mine. I heard familiar stories. I learned new ways to cope. I realized I had options. Most importantly, however, I saw I was not alone. I got help. I got a proper diagnosis and was put on medication that worked like a shaft of light into my weary, befuddled brain. This did not happen overnight. It took some time to find the right dosages and the correct prescriptions, but I persevered. I held onto hope that the right antidote to the darkness could be found. I didn’t want to die. I only wanted the pain to stop. And it did. Slowly but surely, with therapy and time, it did. I am here today to plead with you: Don’t give up. There is a reason you are reading this right now, at this very moment in time. This is a message you need to hear. You are not alone. The world itself longs for you to stay, is yearning for you to remain. The Earth is calling. Listen! There it is, in the warmth of the sun’s rays upon your upturned face, in the cool breeze that caresses your skin, in the song of a bird, the wonder of leaf and flower. The message is there to hear. The Earth is begging you not to give up. For all its darkness, there is light left in which to walk, if only the eyes are unbound from despair. Reach out. Talk to someone. There is love out there; there is love all around you. Just because you can’t feel it doesn’t mean it’s gone. Don’t believe the darkness. It is a liar and a thief. I’m glad to be here today. The rain falls and the sun shines. My children laugh and cry and fight and grow. My parents are grateful. My husband cherishes. My siblings support. My friends appreciate. Every day I see the love I couldn’t see before. I believed the lies the darkness spoke, and I tried to take my life. Some days it is still a struggle. Some days the love is dim and seems far away. Some days I grow discouraged and feel defeated. Some days I still want to leave this world (and all its tribulations) behind. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I hold onto hope. I talk to those around me. I get a good night’s sleep. A new day dawns. I feel better. I didn’t have to die for the pain to stop. You don’t have to either. 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 the following: What was the moment that made you realize it was time to face your mental illness? What was your next step? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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    Emily Bird

    Letter for People Who Can't Stop Thinking About Suicide

    It won’t always be like this. You won’t be permanently stuck in this hell, fighting with your own thoughts and losing. The fact that you’ve just taken that breath proves you’re more than this, you’re more than it. All it wants to do is knock you back over when you just got up, but you don’t have to let it. You are making progress even though it doesn’t feel like it, and you are showing it you won’t be beaten. Are you wearing clothes? That means you put them on. Do you have makeup on? You put that on. Are you drinking tea? You made that. You’re respiring, right? Your body is doing that. In fact, your body is going to continue respiring because that thing in your head isn’t going to stop it. I don’t know whether my writing is making any sense to you, whether that magnificent mind of yours is processing and listening to it, whether your absence of feeling is developing into a feeling of hope. I can’t force that to happen. All I want you to bear in mind now is that your heart — it beats 115,200+ times a day. Inside your delicate frame and under your paper-thin skin, your body is made up of atoms and particles that all consist in the universe. You are part of the universe. You belong here, alive, on Earth. Your feet belong on this floor, your intelligence belongs in this existence and your brain holds millions of stories that deserve to be told. I know you’re hurting, and I know you may even like that feeling, but you don’t need that feeling. You’re better off without it, trust me. I know you avoid doing things because you know they’re going to bring a lot of anxiety, but you don’t need to avoid doing those things, trust me. I know may you find it hard to cry because there is nothing there, but there will be something there eventually, trust me. I know every inch of thought being processed in your head is about how much you don’t want to be here, but that thought won’t last forever. This won’t be forever. Trust me. I wrote this to myself when I was in a dark place with my depression. Some days are still dark, but I’m slowly learning this too shall pass, that brighter are days ahead. I’ve met some wonderful, courageous people throughout my ongoing battle with mental illness, and they inspire me to keep going every single day. They remind me that no matter how awful things are, there is always a way out and there is no shame in me taking medication to help with my recovery. Just keep going. Follow this journey on Catharsis. 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.

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    Gabriel Nathan

    The Importance of Leaning Into Conversations About Mental Health

    That. Sinking. Feeling. When. You’re driving a 57-year-old car in a state that isn’t your own; you’ve put over 900 miles between you and home and the engine starts backfiring and the little car starts bucking. You strain to hear, as if your brain could somehow interpret the messages ensconced within those small tailpipe explosions. Chemistry. Spark and fire. Speed. Energy. The last embers of hope. I pushed that little car as far as it could go that day, to the very mud-soaked driveway that led to the little repair shop in Colchester, Vermont. I stopped the car to take a picture of the sign at the foot of the driveway, and the engine stalled. My heart sank. “Are you kidding me?” I asked the steering wheel. I turned the key and it sputtered its reply. There would be no more combustion today. No more spark. The only energy expended from this point forward would be that of my body, braced against the rear of that old bug, as I pushed it, several hundred feet, one trembling hand on the wheel to keep it out of the sloppiest puddles, to the shop’s garage bay. “Woof! That was a deep one!” I can be heard exclaiming on one of the video cameras mounted on the exterior of the car as my left leg got completely soaked with the muddy Vermont clay. “Oh, no!” Jay, the bearded mechanic exclaimed as he saw my Herbie the Love Bug replica ambling, injured, toward him, its owner panting breathlessly alongside of him. Oh, no. I took my bug from 1963 on an 11 day, 1,100 mile road-trip in May of 2018 to do something that we can no longer really do anymore, thanks to COVID-19: to look people in the eye—suicide loss and attempt survivors—to talk to people I knew, and people I didn’t, about suicide. To raise awareness. To let people know that not only is it OK to talk, it is essential to talk. My old theatre professor, my father, my friend in Manhattan, in Syracuse, on the Vermont/Canada border. Students at Cornell. A first responder therapist. A veteran at a gas station. Waitresses at diners. People in parking lots. To make a documentary film. Why? Because, in spite of marked progress, suicide is still spoken in whispers, if at all. It is still “suddenly” or “unexpectedly” in obituaries. It is still the cloud of shame that hangs over families for generations. It was something that touched my own family that we didn’t talk about for fifteen years; until the day before I set off on my trip. I knew I had to start by talking to my father about his sister. I knew we had to hug. There was a lot of hugging. On that trip. In my film. We can’t hug anymore. For… now. Whenever I put my hands on that car—slide my fingers through the door handle, or give him a pat on the roof—I feel his steel and I think of skin, or clothes. The way people smell when you bring them in close for comfort and warmth and love. That electricity of connection. Spark and fire. My Herbie the Love Bug replica has had the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on its rear window for nearly three years. Together, we have logged thousands and thousands of miles, and we have devoted ourselves and our unique love for each other to help people know and understand that there is both hope and help, that suicide is preventable. I use this gentle, sweet little car as a way to lead and lean into conversations around mental health and suicide. It happens at gas stations and grocery stores, even—briefly— at red lights. My father’s sister killed herself in Israel in 2004. My friend’s mother killed herself in 2001. It just goes on and on and on; and it will continue to do so. Maybe now more than ever. But we don’t know for sure. I sit here on Instagram and scroll through mindlessly repeated memes talking about how “the suicide rate has gone up 200 percent; can I get someone to repost?” Two hundred percent from… what? Where did that statistic come from? Where is the citation? Stats and numbers are so abstract—and the truth can be eclipsed by family members who are ashamed, and suicides can get mis-classified. Only the survivors’ stories are true. Only hope is true. And so that is what I hold onto. I will never forget riding up to a hillside on the Vermont/Canada border sitting next to my friend Hayes Johnson, whose father, Daniel, took his life in 2010. Hayes was very open about not only his father’s suicide and the profound impact it had on his and his mother’s life, but on his father’s behavior in the weeks and days leading up to his suicide. “All of a sudden,” Hayes recalled as the lush greenery whizzed past the car’s windows, “he started being real helpful around the house. ‘Oh, I’ll do the dishes for you, Becky—you keep reading.’ Things that were so out of character for him, which we then learned is something that somebody who’s preparing to take their life can do cuz in their mind it’s like, ‘Well, I wanna leave a nice image behind.’” Hayes went on to express regret that he and his mother were not educated about suicidal behavior, or risk factors, or even uncharacteristic behavioral warning signs like the sudden mood improvement/helpfulness exhibited by his father as a precursor to the event. Hayes said, “if my mother and I had known we could have maybe, in those moments, in that time, done something preventative.” This is why talking to these incredibly brave and vulnerable human beings was so important—to spread education and awareness, so other children don’t have to go through what Hayes went through, so other wives don’t have to become widows in the way that his mother did, so that we can just talk more openly with one another when we need or want to, about hard things. So much has changed since my bug and I rolled out together to “drive out suicide” and, yet, much has stayed the same. Our commitment to spreading awareness has not wavered—there is even a 20 foot tall mural in West Philly devoted to our efforts for suicide prevention, encouraging passersby to “KEEP GOING” in the face of… everything. Sometimes we have to get out of the car and get our feet – and legs – wet as we push. But no matter how, no matter what: We. Keep. Going. Please know you are not alone. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Please see a list of resources below. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Call the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-626-HELP (4357) Text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support in the U.S.