Can we talk about suicide? Or is it a taboo subject?

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BetteTheRed

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And I personally feel somewhat disrespected, not "able-ist" for trying to have a serious conversation about suicide among young people.
 

Northwind

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I agree, there are two distinct topics being discussed here. I'm going to respond to the OP.

Suicide is tough and needs to be discussed. I have a nephew who struggles with mental health concerns and has had suicidal ideation. Thankfully, he's been able to get some help, partly through persistence of his supports.

The opiate crisis is a concern, and I sometimes think it is related somehow. Many younger people struggle with finding their place in the world and find an escape/fun of sorts in the drug. It's like a warm fuzzy, protective blanket for many. A security blanket of sorts. One that is very lethal

I'm not sure what the answer is. It's a complicated issue.
 

Waterfall

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Many people don't know how to talk to a suicidal or depressed person. They are often angry and not pleasant to be around but the reality is that if you care about that person, you will probably be inconvenienced and wishing they had someone else to run to. But another reality is there are not enough services around and the system is backed up. It often takes 6 weeks or more for "emergency" free counselling. If someone is willing to pay for it themselves, it is approx. $120/hr for private counselling.There may also be walk in clinics that offer 1 hour of free counselling a week (but the rest of the week is filled with no one to talk to). Of course you can take someone to the hospital to be admitted, they will see a psychiatrist and most likely receive anti depressive meds.(which can sometimes actually increase the suicidal ideation)...but unless they admit they will harm themselves, they have to agree to being admitted.
The fact of the matter is that family and friends are very important for recovery.....not to "fix" the problem necessarily, but to show there is someone who cares.....

So here are some helpful things you should NOT say to a suicidal or depressed person and what you should say instead:

 
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Waterfall

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There is a stigma attached to mental illness......it seems to be more noble to run to help someone with cancer or another physical ailment than it does to take mental illness seriously. Mental illness requires another kind of approach but it deserves just as much attention because it can become just as deadly if left untreated or if people refuse to talk about it's presence.

According to Statistics Canada:
In 2009 there were 3,890 suicides in Canada, a rate of 11.5 per 100,000 people
Male suicide rates are 3 times higher than for females
All ages commit suicide but those aged 40 -59 had the highest rates .....SURPRISING!
Suicide is a leading cause of death in young people 15-34
Married people have a lower rate of suicide than those who are single, divorced or widowed.
 

Mendalla

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Married people have a lower rate of suicide than those who are single, divorced or widowed.

The question is whether that's because they are less likely to sink that low or whether they do sink that low but having a family gives a reason to fight through it that others lack. IOW, are they less suicidal or just staying alive out of a 'sense of duty"?
 

Waterfall

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The question is whether that's because they are less likely to sink that low or whether they do sink that low but having a family gives a reason to fight through it that others lack. IOW, are they less suicidal or just staying alive out of a 'sense of duty"?
My thinking is, and I may be wrong, is that you are more likely to be physically and mentally nurtured within a family All the anti depressants in the world probably can't compare with the basic human need of being touched and held.....which doesn't discount the benefits of some meds being necessary. I think people like to be held when they cry or are depressed.....only family can do this because professionals are not allowed.
I'm sure a sense of "duty" may play into it....but I tend to think that most of those with suicidal tendencies may think their family would actually be better off without them. eg. may consider themselves a burden
 

Northwind

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I agree @Waterfall. The lack of connection is probably a big part of it. Some people may be surrounded by people yet still feel no connection.
 

GordW

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The question is whether that's because they are less likely to sink that low or whether they do sink that low but having a family gives a reason to fight through it that others lack. IOW, are they less suicidal or just staying alive out of a 'sense of duty"?
OR is it a bit of both? I think for me it would be (as one who has moments when I am acutely aware of what it would take to put me in a very suicidal positions).
 

Lastpointe

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When my son was in grade six his best friends father committed suicide. It was a shock to everyone They were on the verge of moving to Florida What surprised me was that I had been totally unaware he struggled with depression.

I think that is a big thing. Depression and other mental health problems are not spoken about in 5he same way other medical conditions are.

I think in the past, suicides were hidden and referred to as a sudden illness. When I see that in the obituaries now it makes me wonder
 

PilgrimsProgress

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I am an advocate for removing the stigma associated with having a mental illness - it's one of the reasons I preach at a mission church.
My reason is quite simple. I was suicidal in my twenties and was unaware I had a mental illness. All I knew at the time was that I found living too painful and wanted the pain to end. I didn't want to die - I just didn't want to go on living in torment - there is a difference.
The torment is so great that you are locked in a prison of solitary confinement. You have the key, but you don't know how to use it.
This means that you don't even consider how devastated your family would feel if you took your own life. Many would say that you're being selfish, but I know that not to be the case. Who do you think about when you've got a severe toothache? Whether physical or mental, suffering is suffering.

There isn't a day goes by that I don't feel thankful for the many mental health professionals that gave me the opportunity to live a (mostly) good life. Therapy is hard work, but the results are worth it. I sometimes think that I now value life more than most folks do, and I relish in connection with others, probably because it once eluded me.
To anyone out there who needs help, please get it -it can change your life. Don't give up -you're worth so much more.

It cost both our government and myself a lot of money over the years, but it was literally life changing.
But, I'm aware that far too many can't financially afford the help they need. Many folks with a severe mental illness are homeless or in prison -and yes, many suicide. How can any country call itself civilised if it doesn't care for its most vulnerable?
 

ChemGal

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I've known young people who made attempts, but I can only think of one person I knew in person who actually died via suicide.
I think it's fairly equal when I think of the people who I have heard of that died via suicide - young : middle-age or older.
 

Ritafee

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What if we let go of the concept of “mental illness” altogether and adopt a very different set of assumptions:

(a) Human beings (and indeed all living organisms) strive continuously towards a healthy, enjoyable existence;
(b) moving towards and maintaining such an existence requires that we find relative peace with certain dilemmas that are inherent within our existence (e.g., death, loss, personal identity, balancing autonomy and relationship, balancing freedom and security, finding meaning, etc.);
(c) the more difficulty we have in finding relative peace with these dilemmas, the more we suffer; and finally
(d) some individuals, for various reasons and at different points in their lives, are particularly vulnerable/sensitive/aware of/challenged by these dilemmas and are therefore more prone to experiencing intense suffering associated with them.

Trying on a different lens—one that allows us to see those conditions we generally refer to as “mental illnesses” as instead the natural manifestations of an individual’s struggles with the fundamental dilemmas inherent in simply being alive.

So we make the shift from a “mental illness” paradigm to an “overwhelmed by natural human experience” paradigm.

The tragic truth is that our society has become so entrenched in the “mental illness” paradigm that many (and perhaps most) people now consider alternative perspectives a kind of ignorant quackery.

So, if we act from this different paradigm how do we go about offering alternative support for someone who is in so much “psychic pain” that they’re seriously considering taking their own life or possibly even causing serious harm to someone else.

A person overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness reaches out for support, and what do they get? More often than not they are stripped of any last remnants of hope and self-empowerment and provided with a new set of problems in the form of substance dependence and the particularly disempowering “mental illness” paradigm as a means for making sense of their troubles.

There may be occasions where some psychoactive chemicals may provide some benefit, but rather than pretending to “correct a biochemical imbalance,” we name the drugs for what they really are—not “anxiolytic” or “anti-anxiety” medication but drugs that will numb you out for a while, maybe help you sleep; not “antipsychotic” medication or “mood stabilizers” but drugs that will tranquilize you and really numb you out and make it difficult to remember what your problem was (perhaps); and not “antidepressants” but… well… uh… occasionally effective placebos(?)

Drugs are drugs, whether illicit drugs or psychiatric drugs. And what have drugs been shown to do time and time again? When effective, drugs provide some degree of short term relief and benefit but nearly always at the expense of significant long term harm.

The emerging “anti-stigma” movement provides a particularly ironic and tragic example of just how entrenched the “mental illness” paradigm has become in our society. This movement is supposed to embody the spirit of offering a more humane kind of support for individuals struggling with such crises and reducing the stigma and hopelessness that these people generally experience. And yet this very movement generally goes to great lengths to perpetuate the “mental illness” paradigm in spite of the strong evidence showing that this paradigm actually seriously exacerbates stigma—both stigma and fear from others as well as internalized stigma and the intense withdrawal and hopelessness that this so often entails

Why has the “mental illness” paradigm become so entrenched in our society?

A concept that is more appropriately used as a metaphor (the mind being “ill”) has somehow become interpreted as a fact.

Implicit in the term “mental illness” are two problematic assumptions:
(1) that the mind (our subjective experience) is nothing more than an epiphenomenon of the brain, and
(2) that unpleasant, disordered, or anomalous experiences occurring within one’s mind, imply some disease of the brain.

If someone experiences fear due to a threat, or sadness due to a loss, or confusion due to a new insight, of course we would find it absurd to consider these the manifestations of a diseased brain. But we also know that extreme and unusual subjective experiences can occur from causes that are less clear, such as what may arise from trauma, childhood abuse, or otherwise being overwhelmed by various core existential dilemmas. And unfortunately, it is these times when the catalysts are less clear that we are so quick to evoke the term “mental illness” and head down the path fueled by the assumptions associated with this term (i.e., that the brain must be diseased in some way and then treated as such). Once we head down this path, the “treatment” is likely to actually create a genuine brain disease. So what we find, then, is a positive (self-reinforcing) feedback loop between the increasing use of a flawed and oxymoronic concept, “mental illness,” and the increasing prevalence and the illusory validation of the “mental illness” paradigm within our society. -- Paris Williams, PhD

Rethinking Madness: With the rare perspective of someone who has experienced extreme states from both sides as a psychologist researcher and as someone with lived experience Paris draws from multiple perspectives to explore what it means to be “mad” in a "mad" society.
 

BetteTheRed

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How do you account for those mental illnesses with a strong genetic/physiological component? I'm thinking of the classic bipolar that has afflicted many in my family. The son I gave up for adoption as an infant has an exact duplicate of his grandmother's pattern (2 ups, 2 downs per year, could set a clock by them) and they never met, and grew up in entirely different families.
 

Ritafee

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How do you account for those mental illnesses with a strong genetic/physiological component?

Biomedical model psychiatry is a prime example of the use of ideological power.

It is a worldview that does not have any evidence to support it, that never has had evidence to support it.

It clearly operates in the interests of people who are already quite powerful.

It clearly operates by imposing a form of meaning on people, which goes along the lines of: you have a mental illness of X, Y, or Z sort.

If you start to challenge that, you will quickly find out that the power lies elsewhere.

All sorts of consequences may follow from challenging it.

We need to understand distress through patterns that are organized by meaning.

They’re organized by meaning, not by biology, which is a big conceptual leap.

Patterns are based on or organized by social and cultural meanings, not by biology and something that’s gone wrong with our bodies.

Power Threat Meaning Framework...

Replaces the question at the heart of medicalisation, ‘What is wrong with you?’ with four others:

●‘What has happened to you?’ (How has Power operated in your life?)
‘How did it affect you?’ (What kind of Threats does this pose?)
‘What sense did you make of it?’ (What is the Meaning of these situations and experiences to you?)
‘What did you have to do to survive?’ (What kinds of Threat Response are you using?)

 
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Northwind

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I like your thoughts @Ritafee . I think we are often too quick to slot people into the "mental illness" paradigm. Many see medications as a quick fix that will solve the individual's problems. That is too simplistic.

I also see the young man @BetteTheRed describes. While the psychic meaning of life issues apply to him, it would be irresponsible to only use that narrative. My nephew has also been diagnosed with bi-polar. I do not believe he'd be alive without the proper medication.

Any health issue, be it physical or mental, needs a more holistic approach. Mind, body, spirit, etc. Someone who has a heart attack needs more than the medication and medical treatments. They need to also look at the bigger picture and make changes to their life, including the psychic changes. The same applies to mental health issues.

I don't see this as either/or. It's a complex issue that involves a multi-facetted approach. I'm sure that with Bette's son, being separated from her at an early age did create a psychic wound that he will need to addess. (Zero blame on you Bette for the record) My nephew likely needs to look at past trauma that may have contributed to his well being. Facing these issues may help both men "stabilize" (best word for now) and heal. It may mean less medication and intervention. I believe we all are wounded in some way for the record, and need to find our healing.

It's tough and hard work. Some people have trouble doing that and find it easier to take the pills.
 

BetteTheRed

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I don't see this as either/or. It's a complex issue that involves a multi-facetted approach. I'm sure that with Bette's son, being separated from her at an early age did create a psychic wound that he will need to addess. (Zero blame on you Bette for the record) My nephew likely needs to look at past trauma that may have contributed to his well being.

Sure. But this doesn't go anywhere to explaining this very clear biological/genetic component. Grandma and grandson never met. They have EXACTLY the same symptoms re mania alternating with depression in a very "calendar" pattern. The sole difference is "which hormonal upset" flipped the bipolar switch. With my son, it was puberty, with my mother, it was a post-partum depression.

And while both may have been traumatized, I'm going to guess no more or less than their respective siblings, none of whom are bipolar. But my great-grandfather was.
 

Northwind

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I do agree with you @BetteTheRed. I guess my point is more that things like trauma can trigger the bio part of the condition.
 

Luce NDs

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Trauma .. can trauma exist with all the blessings indicated by the powers?
 
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