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

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PilgrimsProgress

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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.

Good post, Northwind.......

Social media has encouraged polarization of views on far too many subjects. Either/or thinking is a way of not seeing what we don't want to see to avoid cognitive dissonance.

Johann Hari in his book "Lost Connections" argues well for what is often termed mental illness as a legitimate response to our life situations. His reasoning is plausible for "minor'' so called psychiatric conditions. On the other hand, when it comes to full blown psychosis -with conditions such as schizophrenia - it does seem to be a severe mental illness.
However we define it, seeking help from others, can make a huge difference.

My personal concern with not defining it as an illness relates to the question of stigma. To some, by re-defining it, can be yet another way of mental illness being a stigma. i.e. running from the very mention of illness.
 

Northwind

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My personal concern with not defining it as an illness relates to the question of stigma. To some, by re-defining it, can be yet another way of mental illness being a stigma. i.e. running from the very mention of illness.


Yes, and renaming it might remove the stigma briefly. It would return unless we do something more to address the stigma. Of course, you know that.
 

Seeler

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Thank you all for reviving this thread. I've been following along as this topic has long been a concern of mine. I find your discussion of suicide very helpful. and it seems impossible to discuss suicide without also discussing mental illness.
 
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Ritafee

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Exploring the historical Jesus 'mental health' has been attempted by multiple psychologists, philosophers, historians, and writers.

And many of them said ″He hath a demon, and is mad, why do ye hear him?″

And when his friends heard [of it], they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, "He is beside himself".


In 2011, a team of psychiatrists, behavioral psychologists, neurologists and neuropsychiatrists published research which suggested the development of a new diagnostic category of psychiatric disorders related to religious delusion and hyperreligiosity.

Comparing the thought and behavior of the important figures in the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ and Paul) with patients affected by mental disorders related to the psychotic spectrum using different clusters of disorders and diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR)...

Conclusion:

Biblical figures "may have had psychotic symptoms that contributed inspiration for their revelations", such as:


Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, manic depression, delusional disorder, delusions of grandeur, auditory-visual hallucinations, paranoia, Geschwind syndrome and abnormal experiences associated with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).

The authors suggest that Jesus sought to condemn himself to death ("suicide by proxy").

With the view of Jesus as apocalyptic prophet ... was his 'disorder' genetic, biological or spiritual in nature?

“How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” ~Bob Marley
 
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I’m of the opinion that 40 days in the desert with little sleep (and probably dehydrated) would’ve caused hallucinations. They were probably quite common. Those guys probably didn’t sleep much, in survival mode, on the run all the time. 3-4 days with zero sleep is likely to induce a temporary psychosis, until sleep is restorative. It’s not a mental illness, it’s a warning sign that one needs to sleep.
 
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BetteTheRed

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You can think that mental illness is a real illness without deciding that biblical figures are ill in that way. There's a huge dependence on "demons" as responsible for illness in the ancient record.

None of this means that mental illness isn't a real illness as real as a strictly physiological one.
 
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I agree. I suspect that’s something they went through because I experienced it. It’s a subjective opinion, like most of us have about our biblical beliefs. I had to stay in hospital overnight because I was stressed and didn’t sleep for 3 or 4 straight days. I can’t remember - but I had hallucinations. The difference was I ‘knew’ they were hallucinations, but they freaked me out. Partly because I had no idea why I was having them suddenly. They were brand new to me. I hadn’t taken any substances of any kind, and I didn’t know that no sleep could have that consequence. I think if I knew what they were and had been able to laugh them off (in my mind not literally) and get some sleep they would not have been scary or fear based. It never happened again, so it was not a mental illness (unless a particular mental illness can be very short lived and never happen again) - the depression and anxiety that I’m prone to that kept me awake, is. The fact that I had just lost my job, bills were due, and I watched a natural disaster unfold on CNN for 3 days in a row, did not help the direction my subconscious mind went in, either.

It was basically a lucid dream while awake so it brought my subconscious to the surface...and I was able to recognize that...but it was still freaky. I don’t recommend it. But if it does ever inadvertently happen to you, laugh it off in your head, and most importantly, get some sleep. Get proper medical help to do that if you need to. And if it happens again after you are well rested, it might be something else.



:)
 
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The imagination is an awesome thing. And it is subconsciously collective, and I believe at some sub-atomic level, connected. For better or worse. It’s not “rationally” connected to time and space ...but it brings us insight, and allows us to create - it should be respected. And the bible is all about that. But this is off topic. I’m following Rita’s thoughts about mental illness. There is probably far more to it than we know yet. And I think we too often dismiss sensitive people and imaginative people as mentally ill because they don’t fit neatly within our social conventions. Regardless - or maybe precisely because of that - we need to keep striving to come together better to care for other human beings here and now, and suicide prevention is an important part of that. It goes beyond survival. It has to be about social justice, too.






:)
 
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Another thing is, there really are a lot of reasons in this world to feel depressed. People who try to whitewash that fact are the ones who are delusional...that’s getting more and more obvious these days. It’s not actually “crazy”, or irrational, to be depressed if you think about how reality really is presenting itself. Especially so for those who are marginalized - but, for everybody too, because we’re in this world together. So, that needs to be acknowledged because people can’t be drugged out of the realities in their environments, realistically (and the world at large is an environment we all share)...the depression will become collective and chronic. It already is a public health crisis, but it’s not simply a “medical” health crisis. It’s social/ material/ emotional/ spiritual, too. What people are experiencing may be prolonged situational depression, I think - prolonged when situations become, or at least ”seem” insurmountable relative to the social remedies available. We can do better.







:)
 
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Luce NDs

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Imagine a twilight zone ... a hangup between black and white decisions ... a great void? It appears to be a great mystery ... very shadowy and shifty under the trees ...
 
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And if you don’t believe it can have serious mood and perceptual consequences (that do normally resolve after a night’s sleep but can put a person in harm’s way until then), have a read through the link below. I found it fascinating.

My comments on the article...It’s now considered inhumane (for good reason) to keep someone awake for more than 48 hrs - so they can only rely on mid 20th century studies (and patient self reporting). One of the most fascinating things in the report is about a group hallucination where several study participants saw the same object, that wasn’t there.

Some individuals saw the ground peeling up in the corners, geometric objects, substances coming up out of the ground, objects morphing together, seeing people who weren’t there, half people floating by, dogs barking, persecutory delusions of grandeur involving global events, all kinds of wild stuff...none of them were very pleasant hallucinations...but those are symptoms of a brain in trouble if not given the proper treatment (sleep in this case). I think if people knew to expect that if they were awake too long, maybe they wouldn’t be scared and they’d get some sleep. But if one doesn’t know what’s causing these hallucinations, it’s freakin terrifying...apparently very similar to the effects on the brain, to hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. I am willing to guess sleep deprivation was common among biblical characters, because life for them was particularly stressful.

Still...what’s up with several people in the room having the exact same hallucination? That is wild! The power of suggestion in an altered state, maybe? Maybe that happened to ancient biblical characters. Why not? They were human. And they didn’t know about the science of sleep, and the brain. And I guarantee you hallucinations can look and sound, and even feel, as perfectly real as real things. It’s super bizarre, but the mind/ perception/ consciousness is amazing (and sometimes quite scary). They were probably considered gifted to have these “visions”.



As for young people being sleep deprived. Going days on end with some, but too little, sleep, can affect mental well being.
 
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The bible seems to make a distinction between visions and demons, too. The former being insightful, and the latter being persecutory. Just sayin’...they were humans experiencing the depths of the mind, as can happen to anyone (it’s easier than you think to go three days without sleep and not realize ‘how’ sleep deprived you are, or to forget when you actually last slept for a few hours because the days are a blur - I hit a point where I was wide awake and my brain was half dreaming - like a dream merged with reality - but I knew the hallucinations could not be physically possible within my normal reality, I just didn’t know where they came from - why it was happening - and that scared the wits out of me - unlike in schizophrenia where the hallucinations become normal reality, frequently present if not medicated, and they can’t tell it apart ... I could articulate that I experienced things that couldn’t have been real. The experience shook me up though. It was a bizarre few days out of my life. Sleep deprivation can happen to anyone, especially to the overworked or over-stressed, and it will have a profound effect after too long. I imagine it’s pretty common today. It was nearly a decade ago that it happened to me, and at the time, or shortly after, I was relieved to read some science about it...but now there are tons of articles about it, people telling their own stories, too. It may be becoming a more common problem.) ... but the ancient biblical characters didn’t know anything about science.
 
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And...it seems logical that that could happen easily to homeless people with nowhere to sleep...so the person on the street seeing things and rambling about bad things in the news may not be chronically mentally ill. Not yet. Not unless neglect persists. So don’t assume. Jesus was a homeless man with “nowhere to lay his head”...nowhere permanent anyway. He went for long journeys. Predators were after him. People were after him. So...he probably experienced 72 hrs without sleep and some profound hallucinations at some point.



If people don’t have the basics, after enough days, they will undoubtedly be in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual crisis.


Okay, goodnight. :)
 
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GO3838

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Thank you all for reviving this thread. I've been following along as this topic has long been a concern of mine. I find your discussion of suicide very helpful. and it seems impossible to discuss suicide without also discussing mental illness.

I've been following this thread, wanting to give my input, but this thread has jumped around to many related tangents that I wasn't sure where I should jump in......

Seeler's comment seemed like good segue for me.

As a high school teacher, I've seen about one suicide per year over 20 years, and about 6 attempted suicides every year (and those are the attempts that the student and their family choose to inform the school about. There may be many more that the staff doesn't hear about.)

Psychiatrists have talked to the staff: one thing they say is that just about everyone has had fleeting thoughts about suicide at some point in their live. That's a normal part of the human experience, and needs to be talked about. That's a stigma that needs to be lifted. But in some people, those fleeting thoughts don't go away, and they develop a focused plan. And the transition from fleeting thoughts to action plan can be very short (like a few hours,) to months.

And in young people, that transition can happen very quickly. And many adults tend to forget that what seems to trivial to us can be very overwhelming to a teen. For example, if a teen was in a short 3 month relationship, and then their boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with them, adults typically respond "There's plenty more fish in the sea," but sometimes a teen can't see that, and they feel overwhelmed and isolated.

And yes, there often are other factors at play besides a catalyst, like a broken romance or being dropped from an elite sports team. I've noticed that some of the most depressed teens at school are often ones that don't exercise, they're on social media all night and don't sleep, they tend to play video games for long hours and don't get out in the sun, and they often have poor diets of junk food. We all know that how we feel physically plays a big part in how we feel mentally, and I can't help thinking that teens that fit this profile need sleep, nutrition, and fresh air more than they need to go to CHEO for antidepressants.

As an English teacher, my strength is the power of story, so I'll share two great stories on this thread. This first is Joseph Boyden's "Walk to Morning." In this personal account, Boyden shares with CBC radio in 2011 about how his girlfriend broke up with him at a dance when he was 16. He then got really drunk, and when walking home, threw himself under a car. The front wheels went over him, but not the back. Boyden talks about how glad he was in the end that his suicide attempt was not successful, because he would have never have met his wife, or had kids, or had his dog lick his face. And he urges teens who feel now the way he felt then to talk to someone. It's a very short but simple and powerful piece.

The 2nd is a novel called "The Space Between" by Halifax writer Don Aker. It's a story about a 16-year-old boy, Jace, who goes to Mexico for a one week vacation, and while there he makes a personal goal to lose his virginity. The foreground of the novel is his humorous attempts to find a girl to proposition, but the background of the novel is the shadow in his mind because his older brother, Stefan, died by suicide the year before. Stefan had just come out as gay, and his family had initially rejected that, and Stefan was a fantastic hockey player who felt his career would be over if coaches/players/fans knew he was gay. This novel shows readers how suicide affects people the day after, weeks after, months after, years after the suicide. I've noticed my students really thinking about that as we read this novel together. And talking about Jace's and Stefan's experiences gives a voice for my students: they can talk about their own feelings through talking about Stefan and Jace.
 

Carolla

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This weekend there was a news item by the Ontario Provincial Police & Cdn Mental Health Association - reminding people of the availability of their joint mental health crisis team's availability to vacationers. Vacation can be perilous time for some people - away from usual routines, possibly more use of substances, perhaps without usual meds or support personnel, perhaps with less sleep, perhaps in close proximity with family & friends who influence them .... all triggers for difficulties.

And then today in The Star I read a letter to the government regarding their proposed funding limit of 24 hours/year for psychotherapy treatment. For those with severe & persistent mental health issues this limit is completely ridiculous and creates harm. Don’t penalize people with severe mental illness | The Star

Kudos to you GO for tackling tough subjects with your students - do you get any pushback from parents who find the content 'inappropriate'?
 
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I don't like reading talk about "them" - in a detached clinician way like it couldn't happen to "us". Seeing as depression is an epidemic it could be anybody. It could be the clinician who develops depression.

Actually I am concerned that health professionals wouldn't treat themselves the same as everybody else in recognizing depression...and then we have depressed doctors and clinicians treating depressed patients. That's not unlikely as it's an epidemic.






:(
 
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This weekend there was a news item by the Ontario Provincial Police & Cdn Mental Health Association - reminding people of the availability of their joint mental health crisis team's availability to vacationers. Vacation can be perilous time for some people - away from usual routines, possibly more use of substances, perhaps without usual meds or support personnel, perhaps with less sleep, perhaps in close proximity with family & friends who influence them .... all triggers for difficulties.

And then today in The Star I read a letter to the government regarding their proposed funding limit of 24 hours/year for psychotherapy treatment. For those with severe & persistent mental health issues this limit is completely ridiculous and creates harm. Don’t penalize people with severe mental illness | The Star

Kudos to you GO for tackling tough subjects with your students - do you get any pushback from parents who find the content 'inappropriate'?
When we talk about mental health crisis teams and meds and sleep...for patients, who are “others”...did you know that the suicide rate for health professionals is up to 40% higher than those who are not medical professionals?


It brings up two concerns a) those people need help too because it’s an even bigger epidemic in the medical community. b) how can everybody else rely on the medical system to look after mental illness appropriately, using their best judgment, if so many doctors and nurses have mental illness that severe?




:(
 
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I suspect we really have to move away from the medical model, even in the field of medicine...it needs to broaden its perspective... to really help people.
 

GO3838

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Kudos to you GO for tackling tough subjects with your students - do you get any pushback from parents who find the content 'inappropriate'?
The one thing we never get pushback from parents about is talking about suicide. (We get pushback about sex ed, pushback about "gay issues," and pushback about using Muslim stories that reference Islamic culture, but never about suicide.)

I think it's the subject that terrifies parents the most, so they figure any classroom talk about this subject is good.

Interestingly enough, we teachers do sometimes get pushback from our employer, the school board.

For example, the highly controversial Netflix series "13 Reasons Why," which has been criticized as romanticizing and glamorizing suicide : a teacher in Ottawa was using this material for assignments, and assigning episodes to watch for homework. (Teachers should only use ON government approved resources for assignments. Teachers can certainly have classroom discussions about a Netflix series, but guiding a discussion is very different from creating assignments.) Anyway, our school board (which is not Ottawa) had a knee-jerk reaction, and they produced a letter about the dangers of "13 Reasons Why," and sent this letter home with all students, including kindergarten students, who would not be watching this show. I personally felt my school board caused unnecessary anxiety and panic in parents with this letter.

My school board also talked about banning any curriculum resources where a suicide happens. That would have meant
no "Romeo and Juliet,"
no "Hamlet,"
no talking about residential schools and the intergenerational effects
-no talking about medically assisted euthanasia

and how can we remove stigma without talking about these issues? We can't. Do schoolboards honestly think that banning "Romeo and Juliet" means that teens won't be exposed to the idea of suicide?

Thankfully, my employer never issued the directive to ban curriculum resources that reference suicide. (Because that would have been a lot of resources.)
 
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