Suicide [Antioch University, Seattle]

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Suicide [Antioch University, Seattle]

Summary:
– In the world, the following number of people commit suicide each year: 800,000

Biggest myths about suicide
– It is selfish, & they are not thinking about the people left behind
– there is a lot of judgment – in the media, social media/culturally about it

What we know:
– such suicidal feelings can derive from chemical imbalance
– lot of people are thinking (mistakenly that) the world would be better off without them – in their distorted view (developed over years) – & therefore it is not a selfish act
– depression is not easy to get over (& therefore we should be empathic & understanding of their plight)
– suicidal people are suffering & feeling backed into many smaller & smaller corners
– a lot of people want to talk & not be alone – they feel tormented & find it difficult to function – this is what suicidality is like for depressed people
– instead, people want to discuss:
– what happened?
– why are they feeling this way?
– what could be done instead?
– that suicide & depression are subjects manipulated by teenagers [they say this is a myth]
– parents need to listen o their teenagers a lot more

Discussion amongst panel:
– different types of suicide & contexts, & a spectrum of ways (harm self through to harming others in rare situations
– suicide is often not the first thing that pops into a person’s head – it is often contemplated after prolonged periods of struggle (with a lot of different solutions), sadness, hopelessness, & feelings of worthlessness which leads to questions such as: what if I didn’t exist because my life sucks & this suffering sucks [feeling it is all too hard; feeling as if one does not have a network of support; sharing how you are feeling]
– & thoughts then progress
– there is still a lot of shame & misunderstanding about depression & talking about suicide
– involuntary hospitalisation
– suicide note
– seeming as if no one else is feeling this way
– are you able to separate this from who you are as an individual & realise that such thoughts are temporary, & that such thoughts/feelings are part of depression
– teenagers however believe it is who they are – that it means something is wrong with them as a person, that they are weak, losers etc.,
– sometimes suicidal thoughts can reverberate between teenagers & exacerbate the situation, making suicidality worse
– how for one panel member, “writing saved my life” – to get her thoughts out there on paper
– suicide – desperate answer to a persistent problem [1 in 8 US teenagers have suicidal feelings]
– vocalising “crazy thoughts” makes it simultaneously real & less real at the same time [distancing technique so you can examine it]
– being a teenager is difficult (so are many stages of life)
– we can discount all the positives in our life & focus upon the negative
– the issue of excelling is the focus of school/college education (not managing emotions; how to relate to others)
– grades can be the primary focus of many parents [they argue this is cultural & that such “success” has no bearing on happiness]
– careers do not necessarily mean happiness
– not going to college does not mean you are not dateable

Tips for helping someone who is feeling suicidal:
1) Be direct & talk matter-of-factly about it with the person, rather than being shocked
– use the word / don’t avoid using it
– if the person is vague when describing it – also name it directly for what it is – are you saying you are going to kill yourself?
[note: it is a myth to suggest that just because you name something means that you are suggesting it or that the other person will act on what you say & do it]
2) coping skills
– talk about your feelings
– overcome the stigma of seeking counselling/therapy (it can take people a long time to realise they need therapy)
– stress management
– perspective
– managing time
3) carers/parents/loved ones
– do not be judgmental
– try not to judge feels as either good or bad
– be willing to listen
– show support
– try not to talk them out of it/convince them life is good
– be ok with silence/discomfort/awkward moments
– more meaningful communication – talk about what they really want to talk about
– do not act shocked
– sworn to secrecy? Enable support crisis numbers
4) remove means

Remember: suicidal thoughts arise from suffering & torment

Source: The couple and family therapist podcast | 27 January 2017

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