World Suicide Prevention Day

Posted: September 10, 2013 in Health, Military in AZ, Personal
Tags: , , ,

I’ve spoken about my lifelong struggle with depression before, so I should have known that today was World Suicide Prevention Day, but I didn’t.  Thanks to Soonergrunt over at Balloon Juice, now I DO know and so do you.   If you feel compelled, reach out and do something to help improve awareness, education and prevention wherever you are in the world.   Here are some things to ponder in the meantime.

  • “With just a few exceptions, the majority of gun deaths in the United States have been self-inflicted every year since at least 1920.” from a Boston Globe article
  • There is a theory out there (that I agree with) that men often go undiagnosed because the diagnostic checklist is biased toward symptoms that women exhibit but not men.  For example, one symptom is “uncontrollable crying”–something that American men rarely do.  A more common symptom for them would be “self-destructive behavior” such as binge drinking, engaging in risky behavior like starting fights with strangers, etc. from “The Mismeasure of Women” by Carol Tavris
  • It’s pretty much accepted that the rate of suicide among U.S. military personnel has been rising and far greater than it is in the general population.  What is new is that they’re not sure why since it doesn’t seem to be linked to deployment (which is what everyone previously assumed was a huge factor).  Is it something about the military lifestyle or is it about the kind of people the military attracts or the fact they are more likely to have access to lethal means than the average American has….or all of the above?
  • The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has chosen kites to be its symbol. They have a lovely explanation for why they chose the kite and I encourage you to read it on their website.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an American organization with chapters all over the U.S. that offers resources for suicide prevention and assistance for those who have lost loved ones.
  • There is also the IASP, the International Association for Suicide Prevention, for my friends overseas.

Note:  And yes I see the irony of the first bullet and my post about shooting my firearm yesterday.  I’m a responsible gun owner and that includes the understanding that if I ever suffer a serious bout of depression the revolver will be the first thing to go.  Thankfully, I haven’t had a serious crisis in about 4 or 5 years.  

  1. Keith Evan Rhodes says:

    At least I know you want miss. Love.Keith

  2. alopecia says:

    I’d known Barry since middle school, and while we didn’t stay in touch regularly after high school (hey, guys don’t do that, okay?) our paths crossed in weird ways every few years, often with him phoning me to ask if I wanted to play Frisbee. Yes, really. He was scary smart, had a perfectly dry wit, was a talented photographer, and beat me like a rented mule every time we played Scrabble. I loved him like a brother.

    He also struggled with depression for many years, to my certain knowledge from age 18. He and his family did everything imaginable for more than a decade to try to deal with it, ultimately including anterior cingulotomy.

    Sometimes, everything isn’t enough.

    I got home one evening to a message asking me to call his parents. Barry had been living with his brother and over a few months had stocked up enough of one of his prescriptions—I don’t remember, but it was probably a tricyclic antidepressant—to kill himself.

    That night, I wrote his parents the letter we always write to the parents of someone who dies too goddamn young, trying to ease their pain and keep them from feeling guilty. I guess it worked for them (I got a grateful phone call from them a few days later, thanking me for writing it), but I know it didn’t work for me.

    That was something like 25 years ago. Diagnosis and treatment of depression are better now. If Barry had been born one generation later, maybe prints of his photos would adorn living rooms worldwide. Maybe he’d be a best-selling author.

    And maybe I’d still have a friend to swap crap puns with while he was embarrassing me at Scrabble.

    • I am so sorry to hear that you lost someone like this. It’s so terribly hard on the people they leave behind. I know from experience that all the depressed person can think about is wanting to make it stop. After a while the pain of depression makes even the concerns about those they love and would leave behind fade into the background. And yes, sometimes everything isn’t enough. That’s the way it goes for so many illnesses…cancer, ALS, MS, etc, etc. This year has been a bad one for loss…I’m going to another funeral on Thursday. In all cases, the only comfort I can find is that at least they aren’t suffering any more. I know it’s not much, but that’s all I got. Tu amiga.

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