Warrior Princess

September 10, 2015

National Suicide Prevention Day, A Personal Reflection

Filed under: Suicide — Tags: — ggirl @ 7:07 pm

sad wolf eyrs

“No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.” ~Cesare Pavese

Suicide and I are old companions.  My first suicide attempt was when I was eleven. I spent many subsequent years using all of my strength to resist its warm embrace.

My father killed himself over 15 years ago now.  His death changed everything.  I became certain, absolutely dead certain, that I would never give up my resistance to murdering myself.  For that is exactly what suicide is.

I never thought my father would kill himself, though the first time he spoke of it in my presence was when I was seven.  I understood the concept in a childlike way.  I knew it meant he was sad and I knew it meant he would be forever lost from me.  He continued to speak of it off and on all of his life.  My dad was a vain, narcissistic man.  He measured everything by how much it affected him.  When I was a child, he also took great enjoyment  in making me cry.  Suicide became simply another way of gloating over my pain.  How could he ever murder himself, his beloved one?

If you’re thinking of suicide, please please get help.  You will leave behind loved ones who have to deal with a nuclear bomb going off in their heads.  Period.  You cannot change it, you cannot make it better.  Please get help!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1 (800) 273-8255

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish

If you have any inkling that someone is readying him/herself, finding the courage to leave, please let someone know.  Do everything you can to stop it.

Warning Signs of Suicide

These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Additional Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.

A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.

~

Common Misconceptions

The following are common misconceptions about suicide:

“People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.”

Not True. Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

“Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.”

Not True. Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They may be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing. Extreme distress and emotional pain are always signs of mental illness but are not signs of psychosis.

“If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.”

Not True. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, and most waiver until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to end their pain. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

“People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.”

Not True. Studies of adult suicide victims have shown that more then half had sought medical help within six month before their deaths and a majority had seen a medical professional within 1 month of their death.

“Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.”

Not True. You don’t give a suicidal person ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true — bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

~

It’s National Suicide Prevention day.  Please honor the 41,149 people who could no longer find the will to go on last year.  Educate yourself, spread the word, offer compassion and strength to people you know who may be making secret plans.  Honor the survivors of suicide by holding on to their hands as tightly as you can.

March 10, 2014

No Matter What

Filed under: Breast Cancer, Suicide — ggirl @ 3:07 pm

wolf footprintToday there is no quote because I can’t categorize the day or my thoughts.  I don’t know why, but that seems to be a scary scenario.

I’m (allegedly and sporadically) reading two books at the moment:   Pierro’s Light, a nonfiction book about art/religion/science and a Mark Helprin novel, A Soldier of the Great War.  I have the day off from my volunteer job and, instead of making progress on one of those literary fronts, I’ve spent the whole morning reading long articles on the web.  Los Angeles Review of Books and Longreads.  My inbox is filled with Salon and Daily Beast, among the hundreds of political, knitting, cooking and employment emails.  I dealt with the immediate political action requests and put the rest off until I’m feeling more Salon-ish or Beast-y.  I immediately trashed all employment emails.

One of my sidetrips was an essay about Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  On my way to the grocery store to pick up some chicken for dinner, I mulled over my own fear of heroin when I was younger. It seemed like a drug that might call my name a little to insistently; I carried both a lot of pain and a compelling need to unload some of it for a little while.  I knew any unloading was merely temporary.  Pain had been a close and dangerous friend my entire young life.  Dangerous because of the suicide solution or, maybe, the heroin solution.  Many of my favorite and most esteemed writers had discovered the heroin solution, making it an almost romantic choice.

My musings today, to the soundtrack of Chris Whitley’s “Din of Ecstasy” (Whitley’s musical ode to heroin addiction was such an apt selection) reminded me of why heroin and I could never be bosom buddies.  When I had my reconstruction surgery (and the other surgeries that preceded it) I was provided with morphine to dull the pain.  Turns out, the pain never left me.  My head resided in Houston and the body was in some other state.  I was aware of both…they were just a little disconnected.  I don’t need to disconnect a little from the pain of my inner life.  I need for it to be a permanent solution.  So heroin doesn’t call my name anymore.

This is what I believe:  Pain is inescapable.  Make friends with it, watch a movie with it, invite it to come to work with you.  It won’t ever leave you.  Not with morphine.  Not with heroin.  Nothing we can physically lay our hands on can provide a buffer.

I don’t just believe, but know as my own absolute truth that

I do not give up

I do not give in

No matter what

Here’s the quote:  “All the suffering, stress and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for,” –Jon Kabat-Zinn

February 5, 2014

The Late Afternoon of my Life

gray wolf yawning“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”  –Robert  Frost

I turned 60 several months ago.  I’m not one of those upbeat, chirpy kind of seniors, nor am I desperate to hold onto youth.  I’n not depressed.  (Well, okay, I might be depressed but I’ve always been depressed.  You might even say it’s my metier.)  It’s simply a corner I’ve turned, both personally and culturally.

It’s a realignment of sorts:  who am I now?  how shall I move forward from here?  Though death  walks beside us at all times, I can now estimate the days I have left. It’s a fact, neither good nor bad.  When I think of it, I  hope I don’t die before my mother.  For quite a while I’ve been selecting music I’d like to have played at my memorial (assuming I have one).  I suppose now is the time to begin work on the things I hope will be said of me and my life.  It’s a pretty tall order, so I’d better get to work on that asap.

In the meantime, though, I’m taking an inventory of things that are now completely out of my reach, those that may be possible, those that are unlikely and those that are lost to me forever.  That list is for another day.  Right now, I’m contemplating a persona.  I’ve worn them my entire life. (We all do; I’m just very aware of mine.)   Sometimes I choose one that helps me communicate better with a group of people.  For quite a long time, I’ve worn  the face of someone who lived a normal life.

Right now, I see a couple of options.  I can be one of those hip elderly women you see sometimes who are dressed in a low-key avant garde fashion.  There are also those who continue to get up every day and put on make up and slightly sexy (though certainly appropriate) clothing.  Of course, rounding a psychological corner is far more than whether I wear jeans or a pencil skirt.

I always think my way through major life shifts.  I became a new person when I had Stage 3 breast cancer.  I arose into a new self when my father killed himself.  Generally, it’s trauma and tragedy that have reshaped me into radically different people.  Maybe I should just wait for the next tragedy or trauma to get up and greet me one day.

I talk to Hubby and my mom about this dilemma from time to time.  My mother suggested that I just be myself.  The question is, which “myself” would that be?

 

January 13, 2014

The Truth May Not Set Others Free

Image

“Adversity is the first path to truth.” – Lord Byron

“My father committed suicide.”

“I have breast cancer.”

“I was a victim of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse.”

“I have a mental illness.  I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” (see above)

When I was a young woman, I kept the secrets of my real life to myself.  Exactly like every other young person, I deeply longed to find acceptance by fitting in.  I studied long and hard to determine just what it would take for me to blend into the crowd.  I became a consummate chameleon.

I now tell the truth.when it’s appropriate.  The truth about my life’s difficulties isn’t something I share immediately, unless the topic arises in conversation.  If people wish to hear  a statement of fact, I provide them with as much truth as I believe they can handle.  Not everyone is capable of hearing everything. Some people have refused to shake my hand after I’ve told them about my breast cancer.

Some people change the subject quickly when the topics of abuse, mental illness and suicide come up.  Some people believe they know how I feel.  Others would like to hear the gory details about my life because they find it titillating. All of these responses have become predictable.

I don’t like to experience unpleasant reactions, but I believe that every time I tell the truth about these things, I chip away at stigma and intolerance.  I’m willing to face the consequences. I’m not trying to get a pat on the back nor is this a call for more people to take the leap of truth.  I just hope that I’m doing a tiny bit to create a future in which all that is profoundly difficult in life can be voiced without fear.  I hope that I’m standing in solidarity with all of the people who have, and continue to, suffer in silence.

May the truth liberate us all someday.

October 21, 2013

The Annual Mind Fuck: Thank You David Foster Wallace

Filed under: Suicide, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 5:29 pm


Image“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.” 
  – David Foster Wallace

I realize that this quote is longer than many blog postings.  Nonetheless, here  it is.  I discovered (along with virtually everyone else, it seems) Wallace by reading a review of his last novel which was unfortunately interrupted by his suicide.  Anyone who’s read my blog posts before probably already knows that I have a running list of names of people who’ve checked out.  Wallace is my latest suicide discovery.

All of this is by way of saying that it’s come around again.  Friday is the anniversary of my father’s suicide.  I’ve already established residence in the Land of Lunacy the anniversary always takes me by the neck and drags me back into.  New therapist says I should imagine my father, minute, placed on the back of a chair.  I should, she says, contemplate him and say, “My father…hmmm.’  To say that this response is inadequate is really an insult to that word.

To make matters even more interesting, I will be 60 nine days after the anniversary.  Wow.  Double my pleasure, double my fun.  My psychiatrist asked me recently if I’ve been feeling suicidal.  I reminded her that’s not a place I’m allowed to go.  I’ve made a rational, calm decision that I will not even entertain the notion.

So.  Here I am, trying to endure the annual mind fuck and trying to figure out what it means to me to be 60.  I’ve forgiven my father–for something, but I’m not quite sure what.  There are so many things to forgive him for and I haven’t forgiven him for most of them.  As for the birthday, I can now count the months I will probably remain un-cremated.  I’ll get back with you on this as soon as I figure out what posture I’ll assume in relation to this birthday.

Okay.  Not the most fascinating or entertaining post I’ve ever written.  I’m feeling a bit fragmented these days.  Go figure.

November 6, 2008

Wading Through High Waters

It took a while to slog through my dad’s anniversary.  Actually, I think I’m still wading through some sadness.

Hubby and I are on speaking terms again.  He’s been more helpful than usual, so I’m thinking that, at least for the time being, we’re on almost the same page.  Being on the same page is a bit much to ask, but having him on a quarter of the page I’m on is a huge improvement.

Crazy Land has been chewing up all of my discretionary, write in my blog time.  While IT Boy was on his honeymoon, I was the only recourse for Loathsome when his email went berserk.  He stalked into my office and asked me if I had a computer.  That is so Loathsome.  I made him cut to the chase and tell me what was happening.  You can’t imagine what a huge task it was to just get the basic facts out of him.  I was exhausted before I began.

I spent two days working on his computer, then I abandoned all hope.  I set his email up on another computer so Loathsome could function while we waited for the return of IT Boy.  A week into using that computer, it stopped running the accounting software.  Of course, everybody blamed Loathsome for the troubles.

IT Boy got back this past Monday and devoted three days to Loathsome’s email.  I understand that, as of yesterday afternoon, virtual memory has been restored and it’s stopped shutting itself down or freezing up.  I had correctly pinpointed the problem and I take some pride in the fact that IT Boy wasn’t able to waltz in and fix the problem immediately.

Yesterday I invited my Crazy Land cohorts to join me for a belated birthday celebration/thank you party.  Two days after issuing the invitation, I suddenly remembered that I’ve had several birthday parties when no one showed up.  Yes, it was a sad, sad childhood.  Nothing like setting yourself up to be hurt and disappointed…again.

Everyone but Golf Pro showed up, though,  and I was able to thank everyone for helping me get through three years of breast cancer hell.  It was actually better that Golf Pro was MIA.  Everyone is even more furious at him than usual.

I’m so happy to have 15 minutes to keep track of what’s going on, even if it’s on a very minimal basis.  I have to try to find a way to work this into my days, which continue to be far too busy.  I’m inventive.  I’ll just put me on my daily schedule.

October 24, 2008

Alone In The Ice And Snow

Filed under: Marriage, Suicide, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 1:57 pm

Hubby and I are at an impasse today.  Last night, I lost patience with him when I told him I was having therapy today and he seemed to be exasperated with the endless nature of my medical/psychological needs.

I told him that I resent the fact that he contributes so little to our relationship.  He doesn’t work, he doesn’t do anything around the house except wash the dishes and clean (the inside of) the bathtub.  (I have made him responsible for walking and feeding the dogs.  He does a middling job of both.)  I told him that I’m so resentful, in fact, that it’s affecting our intimate relationship.  I told him I feel burdened by his lethargy…or whatever.  I said that I feel more like his mother than his wife.

I demanded that he tell me what he does with the 8 hours a day I’m at work.  I mean, really.  Couldn’t he just sweep the floor?  Dust?  Something?  He admitted that he wastes a lot of time, but then implied that’s just the way he is.  I’d love to waste time.  I don’t have time to waste time.

Well, needless to say, he was very hurt and probably very angry.  He disappeared upstairs, came back down a couple of times to deal with the dogs and went directly back up.  I didn’t like that reaction.  It made me angry.

Great timing.  Now I will probably have to spend the weekend in silence.  Hubby tends to use the Freeze Out (passive-aggressive) response to conflict.  Tomorrow is the anniversary of my dad’s suicide.  Excellent timing on my part.

Today I’m tired and sad.  I’m not good at recognizing it, but if I had to bet, I’d say I’m probably really anxious.  I feel so alone.  The Superhighway says that our respective husbands use guilt to control us.  My mom says that, too.  I’m sure Therapist will agree.

They’re all correct, of course.  That doesn’t make me less unhappy.  Worse yet, I feel shamed by my neediness.  Of course, I might not feel so needy if tomorrow were a different day, not an anniversary.

I’m certain that I’ll try to ease the tension between us.  I wish I wouldn’t.  I wish he would try to see things from my point of view.  I wish, I wish, I wish….  Things are what they are, though.

Boy, do I need therapy.

Tomorrow

Filed under: Suicide, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 12:33 pm


Tomorrow.

From Survivors of Suicide

Helping A Survivor Heal

Historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote, “There are always two parties to a death; the person who dies and the survivors who are bereaved.” Unfortunately, many survivors of suicide suffer alone and in silence. The silence that surrounds them often complicates the healing that comes from being encouraged to mourn.

Because of the social stigma surrounding suicide, survivors feel the pain of the loss, yet may not know how, or where, or if, they should express it. Yet, the only way to heal is to mourn. Just like other bereaved persons grieving the loss of someone loved, suicide survivors need to talk, to cry, sometimes to scream, in order to heal.

As a result of fear and misunderstanding, survivors of suicide deaths are often left with a feeling of abandonment at a time when they desperately need unconditional support and understanding. Without a doubt, suicide survivors suffer in a variety of ways: one, because they need to mourn the loss of someone who has died; two, because they have experienced a sudden, typically unexpected traumatic death; and three, because they are often shunned by a society unwilling to enter into the pain of their grief.

How Can You Help?
A friend or family member has experienced the death of someone loved from suicide. You want to help, but you are not sure how to go about it. This page will guide you in ways to turn your cares and concerns into positive action.

Accept The Intensity Of The Grief
Grief following a suicide is always complex. Survivors don’t “get over it.” Instead, with support and understanding they can come to reconcile themselves to its reality. Don’t be surprised by the intensity of their feelings. Sometimes, when they least suspect it, they may be overwhelmed by feelings of grief. Accept that survivors may be struggling with explosive emotions, guilt, fear and shame, well beyond the limits experienced in other types of deaths. Be patient, compassionate and understanding.

Listen With Your Heart
Assisting suicide survivors means you must break down the terribly costly silence. Helping begins with your ability to be an active listener. Your physical presence and desire to listen without judgment are critical helping tools. Willingness to listen is the best way to offer help to someone who needs to talk.

Thoughts and feelings inside the survivor may be frightening and difficult to acknowledge. Don’t worry so much about what you will say. Just concentrate on the words that are being shared with you.

Your friend may relate the same story about the death over and over again. Listen attentively each time. Realize this repetition is part of your friend’s healing process. Simply listen and understand. And, remember, you don’t have to have the answer.

Avoid Simplistic Explanations and Clichés
Words, particularly clichés, can be extremely painful for a suicide survivor. Clichés are trite comments often intended to diminish the loss by providing simple solutions to difficult realities. Comments like, “You are holding up so well,” “Time will heal all wounds,” “Think of what you still have to be thankful for” or “You have to be strong for others” are not constructive. Instead, they hurt and make a friend’s journey through grief more difficult.

Be certain to avoid passing judgment or providing simplistic explanations of the suicide. Don’t make the mistake of saying the person who suicided was “out of his or her mind.” Informing a survivor that someone they loved was “crazy or insane” typically only complicates the situation. Suicide survivors need help in coming to their own search for understanding of what has happened. In the end, their personal search for meaning and understanding of the death is what is really important.

Be Compassionate
Give your friend permission to express his or her feelings without fear of criticism. Learn from your friend. Don’t instruct or set explanations about how he or she should respond. Never say “I know just how you feel.” You don’t. Think about your helping role as someone who “walks with,” not “behind” or “in front of” the one who is bereaved.

Familiarize yourself with the wide spectrum of emotions that many survivors of suicide experience. Allow your friend to experience all the hurt, sorrow and pain that he or she is feeling at the time. And recognize tears are a natural and appropriate expression of the pain associated with the loss.

Respect The Need To Grieve
Often ignored in their grief are the parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, spouses and children of persons who have suicided. Why? Because of the nature of the death, it is sometimes kept a secret. If the death cannot be talked about openly, the wounds of grief will go unhealed.

As a caring friend, you may be the only one willing to be with the survivors. Your physical presence and permissive listening create a foundation for the healing process. Allow the survivors to talk, but don’t push them. Sometimes you may get a cue to back off and wait. If you get a signal that this is what is needed, let them know you are ready to listen if, and when, they want to share their thoughts and feelings.

Understand The Uniqueness Of Suicide Grief
Keep in mind that the grief of suicide survivors is unique. No one will respond to the death of someone loved in exactly the same way. While it may be possible to talk about similar phases shared by survivors, everyone is different and shaped by experiences in his or her life.

Because the grief experience is unique, be patient. The process of grief takes a long time, so allow your friend to process the grief at his or her own pace. Don’t criticize what is inappropriate behavior. Remember the death of someone to suicide is a shattering experience. As a result of this death, your friend’s life is under reconstruction.

Be Aware Of Holidays And Anniversaries
Survivors of suicide may have a difficult time during special occasions like holidays and anniversaries. These events emphasize the absence of the person who has died. Respect the pain as a natural expression of the grief process. Learn from it. And, most importantly, never try to take the hurt away.

Use the name of the person who has died when talking to survivors. Hearing the name can be comforting and it confirms that you have not forgotten this important person who was so much a part of their lives.

Be Aware Of Support Groups
Support groups are one of the best ways to help survivors of suicide. In a group, survivors can connect with other people who share the commonality of the experience. They are allowed and encouraged to tell their stories as much, and as often, as they like. You may be able to help survivors locate such a group. This practical effort on your part will be appreciated. (See Directory of SOS Support Groups on main page)

Respect Faith And Spirituality
If you allow them, a survivor will “teach you” about their feelings regarding faith and spirituality. If faith is part of their lives, let them express it in ways that seem appropriate. If they are mad at God, encourage them to talk about it. Remember, having anger at God speaks of having a relationship with God. Don’t be a judge, be a loving friend.

Survivors may also need to explore how religion may have complicated their grief. They may have been taught that persons who take their own lives are doomed to hell. Your task is not to explain theology, but to listen and learn. Whatever the situation, your presence and desire to listen without judging are critical helping tools.

Work Together As Helpers
Friends and family who experience the death of someone to suicide must no longer suffer alone and in silence. As helpers, you need to join with other caring persons to provide support and acceptance for survivors who need to grieve in healthy ways.

To experience grief is the result of having loved. Suicide survivors must be guaranteed this necessity. While the above guidelines on this page will be helpful, it is important to recognize that helping a suicide survivor heal will not be an easy task. You may have to give more concern, time and love than you ever knew you had. But this effort will be more than worth it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt is a noted author, educator and practicing thanatologist. He serves as Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colorado and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School in the Department of Family Medicine.
As a leading authority in the field of thanatology, Dr. Wolfelt is known internationally for his outstanding work in the areas of adult and childhood grief. Among his publications are the books, Death and Grief; A Guide For Clergy, Helping Children Cope With Grief and Interpersonal Skills Training: A Handbook for Funeral Home Staffs. In addition, he is the editor of the “Children and Grief” department of Bereavement magazine and is a regular contributor to the journal Thanatos.

October 21, 2008

Understanding Suicide: Common Elements

Filed under: Suicide — ggirl @ 1:52 pm

From Survivors of Suicide

(Note from Ggirl: Please pay special attention to element #10.)

Understanding Suicide – Common Elements

No single explanation can account for all self-destructive behavior. Edwin Shneidman, a clinical psychologist who is a leading authority on suicide, described ten characteristics that are commonly associated with completed suicide. Schneidman’s list includes features that occur most frequently and may help us understand many cases of suicide.

1. The common purpose of suicide is to seek a solution.
Suicide is not a pointless or random act. To people who think about ending their own lives, suicide represents an answer to an otherwise insoluble problem or a way out of some unbearable dilemma. It is a choice that is somehow preferable to another set of dreaded circumstances, emotional distress, or disability, which the person fears more than death.
Attraction to suicide as a potential solution may be increased by a family history of similar behavior. If someone else whom the person admired or cared for has committed suicide, then the person is more likely to do so.

2. The common goal of suicide is cessation of consciousness.
People who commit suicide seek the end of the conscious experience, which to them has become an endless stream of distressing thoughts with which they are preoccupied. Suicide offers oblivion.

3. The common stimulus (or information input) in suicide is intolerable psychological pain.
Excruciating negative emotions – including shame, guilt, anger, fear, and sadness – frequently serve as the foundation for self-destructive behavior. These emotions may arise from any number of sources.

4. The common stressor in suicide is frustrated psychological needs.
People with high standards and expectations are especially vulnerable to ideas of suicide when progress toward these goals is suddenly frustrated. People who attribute failure or disappointment to their own shortcomings may come to view themselves as worthless, incompetent or unlovable. Family turmoil is an especially important source of frustration to adolescents. Occupational and interpersonal difficulties frequently precipitate suicide among adults. For example, rates of suicide increase during periods of high unemployment (Yang et al.,1992).

5. The common emotion in suicide is hopelessness-helplessness.
A pervasive sense of hopelessness, defined in terms of pessimistic expectations about the future, is even more important than other forms of negative emotion, such as anger and depression, in predicting suicidal behavior (Weishaar & Beck, 1992). The suicidal person is convinced that absolutely nothing can be done to improve his or her situation; no one else can help.

6. The common internal attitude in suicide is ambivalence.
Most people who contemplate suicide, including those who eventually kill themselves, have ambivalent feelings about this decision. They are sincere in their desire to die, but they simultaneously wish that they could find another way out of their dilemma.

7. The common cognitive state in suicide is constriction.
Suicidal thoughts and plans are frequently associated with a rigid and narrow pattern of cognitive activity that is comparable to tunnel vision. The suicidal person is temporarily unable or unwilling to engage in effective problem-solving behaviors and may see his or her options in extreme, all or nothing terms. As Shneidman points out, slogans such as “death before dishonor” may have a certain emotional appeal, but they do not provide a sensible basis for making decisions about how to lead your life.

8. The common action in suicide is escape.
Suicide provides a definitive way to escape from intolerable circumstances, which include painful self-awareness (Baumeister, 1990).

9. The common interpersonal act in suicide is communication of intention.
One of the most harmful myths about suicide is the notion that people who really want to kill themselves don’t talk about it. Most people who commit suicide have told other people about their plans. Many have made previous suicidal gestures. Schneidman estimates that in at least 80 percent of completed suicides, the people provide verbal or behavioral clues that indicate clearly their lethal intentions.

10. The common consistency in suicide is with life-long coping patterns. During crisis that precipitate suicidal thoughts, people generally employ the same response patterns that they have used throughout their lives. For example, people who have refused to ask for help in the past are likely to persist in that pattern, increasing their sense of isolation.

SOURCE: Thomas F. Oltmanns, Robert E. Emery
University of Virginia

Loathsome, A Unique Brand of Distraction

This is the second day in a row that I’ve devoted almost entirely to Loathsome’s computer.  IT Boy is on his two-week honeymoon, which leaves us without any computer support.

Surprise.  I am not IT Ggirl.  Error message said not enough virtual memory.  I created more virtual memory.  I cleaned up the disk and eliminated hundreds of files.  Then error message said Microsoft Outlook should be reinstalled because a .dll file is missing.  I’m not reinstalling anything, Loathsome.  It seems to me that there are systemic problems.

As I tried to understand and work through the many problems, Loathsome required a blow-by-blow explanation of what I was doing and why.  Kill me, please.  I might as well be speaking Swahili.  Loathsome is relentless, as if by telling him, he might be prepared to deal with future problems himself.  He’s either deluded or he’s trying to impress me with his commitment to grasping the workings of Microsoft Windows.  Not impressed, as you might imagine.

Up side?  Not much time to think about suicide.  The baffling thing is that this year is so unbearably sad for me.  I’ve spent at least the last five years being enraged at my father.  Even aside from the suicide, I have plenty to be angry about.  Most people have trouble understanding how I could have any emotional connection with him at all after he made my life a slow motion, eternal train wreck.

Again, the universe has offered up Loathsome as a distraction.  I’m moderately happy to take it.

four days

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