By Michelle Wells, Alumni
I had been discharged from my treatment program for a year and was in the ups and downs of early recovery when the call came. My husband’s voice cracked when he said my name, so I knew before he told me that my father was dead. There were no details yet, but I did not need them. The coroner’s report would later confirm what I already knew. My dad, like his twin brother twenty years before him, had taken his own life. There is much I could write about his life and perhaps some day I will, but as I sit here today contemplating World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10, 2017) all I have to share with you are the pieces of my heart.
When grunge rock—a term that those who played “grunge rock” hated—arrived on our radios it the mid-90s, it felt to many fans like music had finally gotten “real” again. The Big Pop of the 80s seemed to repeatedly emphasize style over substance and sales over artistry. So, when songs by Soundgarden—led by singer and songwriter Chris Cornell—Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains starting appearing on our airwaves right alongside songs by Brittany Spears and The Backstreet Boys, their message seemed clear: They came to save us.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Alarmingly, the CDC recently reported that the number of suicides in the United States has been on the rise since 1999 among both men and women and in all age groups, and is the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide and suicidal ideation are often misunderstood, especially by those who may have never struggled with mental illness or addiction—although some experts say that most people have at least though about suicide at one point or another. It’s important to understand the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and to intervene if you know someone who needs help.
If you are currently in a crisis and feel that you have no reason to keep living, please call 1-800-273-TALK or go to www.suicideprevention.org to chat with someone online now.
In his book, The Suicidal Mind, Edwin Shneidman describes 10 commonalities among people who attempt or commit suicide.
Although people who have considered or attempted suicide share many of these commonalties, they can also have many differences. People of all gender identities, ages, incomes, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide.
Sometimes suicide is triggered by long-term factors, like childhood trauma, and sometimes it is triggered by more immediate factors, like recent hardships or stressful life events. Sometimes suicidal tendencies are brought on by mental illness, and sometimes it’s brought on by a complex interplay of several of these factors simultaneously.
However, most people at risk of suicide tend to share some characteristics. Some of the main risk factors for suicide are…
If you know someone who is contemplating suicide, contact a crisis line, get them to the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. If you can’t get them to the hospital right away, it’s important not to leave them alone. Stay with them, and if you can, remove any access they may have to firearms, medications, or anything that they could use to end their lives.
If you or someone you love is at higher risk for suicide, the National Alliance on Mental Illness has some excellent tips for developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan to refer to in case of a suicidal crisis.
For someone who’s thought are consumed with ending his or her life the process of finding treatment can be intimidating and confusing. Some people who fit this description actually might not meet the requirements for entering into an inpatient mental health program like the ones we offer at The Meadows. That’s because there’s a difference between individuals who are actively suicidal and those who are having suicidal thoughts.
Generally speaking, those who are experiencing suicidal ideation have had thoughts about ending their lives but have no real plans to do so. Those who are actively suicidal tend to have plans laid and out and have taken steps toward ending their lives.
Typically, when a person contacts an inpatient hospital or program to discuss their issues the intake specialist will go over your past history and the precipitating events that initiated the call. If the intake specialist finds that the person is actively suicidal and in danger of harming him or herself, they may recommend that they be admitted to an inpatient treatment program that can provide acute care and around-the-clock direct monitoring.
If the intake specialist believes that the person can be safely and effectively treated in a less intensive setting, they may recommend a partial hospitalization (PHP) or residential treatment program. People who have been in an acute, hospital inpatient setting can also enter PHP or residential treatment program once they have stabilized and gotten clearance from their doctor(s).
If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for yourself or for a loved one who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, feel free to give us a call at 866-331-7179. We’d be happy to help in any way we can.
The Meadows, a world-class trauma and addiction center in Wickenburg, Arizona, is a gold sponsor of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 31 from 10:00am to noon. A team from The Meadows will also be participating in the walk.
Last spring, AFSP launched its inaugural Out of the Darkness Campus Walk campaign. The Campus Walk, patterned after AFSP's highly successful Community Walk will take place again in 2012 at colleges and high schools across the country. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, only accidents and homicides are higher. For college students specifically, suicide is the second leading cause of death, just behind accidents.
The goal of the ASU Walk is to create awareness and raise more funds for aggressive mental health research and programs for college and high school students within the local community. The ASU Walk hopes to raise $20,000.
"We are pleased to support this very important event," said Jim Dredge, The Meadows CEO. "The Out of the Darkness Campus Walk campaign helps bring attention to the need for more suicide prevention education."
Steve Schiro, the AFSP Field Advocate in Arizona, became involved with the organization after his son, who was a senior at ASU, took his life last year. "My wife and I are both educators and we didn't see the signs. We needed to learn more and we found AFSP," Schiro said. Both he and his wife now serve on the board of the Arizona Chapter." Schiro added that awareness for students to see the signs of depression and suicide will bring the subject out into the open so people can talk about it and realize that there isn't a stigma and there are alternatives.
For more information on how to participate in the walk, please call 480-227-4230 or visit http://bit.ly/Anb19O.
A body of research indicates that there is a correlation between trauma and suicidal behaviors. The Meadows is the industry leader in treating trauma through its inpatient and workshop programs. To learn more about The Meadows' work with trauma and addiction contact an intake coordinator at (866) 807-3778 or visit www.themeadows.com.
AFSP is the leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education, and to reaching out to people with mood disorders and those impacted by suicide. Since 1987, AFSP has invested over $10 million in new studies, as well as provided education and information through public workshops, trainings, our adolescent and college educational films, publications and public service announcements addressing teen depression.
For over 35 years, The Meadows has been a leading trauma and addiction treatment center. In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 patients in one of their three centers or in national
workshops. The Meadows world-class team of Senior Fellows, Psychiatrists, Therapists and Counselors treat the symptoms of addiction and the underlying issues that cause lifelong patterns of self-destructive behavior. The Meadows is a Level 1 psychiatric hospital that is accredited by the Joint Commission.