Ripples: World Suicide Prevention Day

I just realized that this post for International Suicide Prevent Day (September 10) was never published. A week later, here is Ripples.


When you drop a stone into a still pond, ripples spread out from the center. The first ripples are small and closer together. The ripples spread wider and wider and further and further apart.

You are the stone; these bands of ripples represent the connectedness of your life. You intuitively know the nature of each circle, each ripple. Family. Friends. Your children’s friends. Neighbors. Co-workers. Other parents and teachers at your children’s school. Other students in the class. Sports mom’s and their children. Yoga or gym pals. Facebook friends. People in service jobs you see regularly. The mailman. You build your connectedness through these flowing ripples.

You are the stone; it is quite likely that someone within those ripples are familiar with committed or attempted suicide. (For every one suicide death, there are at there are 20+ people attempting suicide). A co-worker’s daughter. The mailman’s uncle. A classmate or friend of your children, especially as the rate of suicide among teens and young adults is higher than the general rate. A yoga pal’s nephew. One of the people who made you morning coffee at your favourite café. A neighbor’s son back from active duty.

September 10, 2014 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Take a minute to think about how attempted and committed suicide probably has touched your life through these ripples. Or you may be more closely associated. Some one in your family, perhaps your self.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for Suicide Prevention estimates globally there is a suicide every 40 seconds. Today, WHO releases it’s word suicide report: Preventing Suicide – A Global Imperative.

And, if you are contemplating suicide, please get in touch with a suicide crisis phone line. The skilled staff understands your pain, and will listen to why you have come to this point. They will talk to you because you are special, unique, and not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline '1-800-273-TALK (8255)'

The national suicide prevention life line is available 365, 24/7. You can call, connect through their website for chat. There are Spanish-speaking crisis counselors on staff.

There is additional help available for young adults and soldiers who represent the highest suicide rates.

With in my ripples, I’ve been touched by suicide. I will think of paul* and marc* today. Think of the times when the physical, emotional, mental pains felt too much to bear and I considered suicide. Not to worry, right now I am not suicidal.

And I will think of the death, every 40 seconds globally, from suicide. Think of them, their families and their friends.

I hope you will stop and think about suicide prevention today. And, if suicide has touched your life, then you know how much pain, grief and guilt is involved. The unbearable pain of the person who committed suicide, grief of those who knew the person, and the guilt that they didn’t see it coming, or should have done more or . . . . .

September 10, 2014 is World Suicide Prevention Day. But suicide prevention is a full time, year round goal. Perhaps there is something you can do to help.

pain, suicide, invisibility: dealing with an “imperfect” life part one

I haven’t written much about my health (mental/physical), or health issues since my April Marathon.

I been doing creative writing based on prompts. Some of me, of course, is hidden deep in my writing – my voice, my creative muse. It’s been interesting and fun to explore that side of my writing. It takes me away from the realities of my life.

Writing fiction, fantasy, fairy tales, etc. has been a diversion, a distraction (perhaps too much of one). My chronic pain has become much worse, some times so bad I cry. Where I hurt before becomes more intense. And, I developed new areas of chronic pain.

After years of owning my pain, it now has ownership over me. I’ve even considered making an appointment with my primary care physician to ask for low dose oxycodone to tide me over until the specialists I will need to see have answers. I didn’t. I won’t. I’m off opioids, taking tramadol for pain. 

It’s unclear as to which specialists to contact given the nature of the pain. Some will be dentists – which we have to pay for, others within our network such as neurologists. Some of the issues are more complicated that just “it hurts,” and I hope these are simply blimps in the state of my life.

I hope I get answers this time. For so many years there has been no diagnosis, or misdiagnoses. All my illness are invisible. When the physical/mental pain is unbearable, you will see it in my eyes.

I also have a lot of mental pain right now. I’m seeing a therapist, and we are trying to heal all the open wounds I have from past traumas. It hurts to heal as I have to replay parts of my life I’d rather forget, or try and find some wisp of the years I don’t remember/have blocked out.

I’ve told her things I have never told anyone else. It just feels good to talk, to open up. I actually cried a few times – and I had trained myself to never cry in front of anyone. It took a while. Sometime there were tears in my voice, not rolling down my cheeks.

Why this is part one? I wanted to discuss my worsening pain, changes to existing conditions and the need to find the causes (there will be more than one).

September is a busy awareness month: suicide, chronic pain, invisible illness. In the next post, I will provide links to various organizations. I will also reblog some posts I’ve written on these subjects.

So I hope you made it this far, and will come back to learn more about mental and physical health issues.



world suicide prevention day

A friend’s posting on facebook reminded me of something I should have remembered. September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. In May 2012, I wrote a requiem post about two people who were suicidal. One went into the woods and blew his head off. None of his friends saw it coming. The other, haunted by mental health problems, attempted a slow and painful suicide by starving himself to death. I don’t know if he died or not – my connection to him was tenuous, but I still remember his “deep blue eyes, showing deep pain and sorrow.

Please learn the signs of suicidal thoughts and actions so you will recognize them if displayed by friends, co-workers/colleagues, students, neighbor(u)rs, family members; help that person get the mental health assistance that they need. If you are contemplating suicide, please call your local suicide hot line. There are people out there who care; no matter how alone you feel, you count, you matter.

paul* and marc*: a requiem, part I

On the Road excerpt in the center of San Franc...

{disclaimer: names have been changed; and this isn’t about anything I’m contemplating to do myself}

In his early 20’s, wearing a plaid shirt and blue jeans hanging loosely off his body, with wheat- colo(u)red hair, a soft-spoken voice, and deep blue eyes, showing deep pain and sorrow, paul* arrived at my parent’s doorstep for a “play date.” His worried mother wanted to get him out of his room where he had retreated, rarely leaving, or interacting with other family members or the world outside. I was “set up” to be the distraction from the dark thoughts that filled his days – the irony of course, being that I was already chronically depressed and probably bipolar 2.

But, forced by both mothers to participate, I suggested going for coffee – a quick and easy to way to get him (and me) out of the house. We sat opposite each other; he spent most of the time staring into his mug, and playing with his donut. When nervous or uncomfortable, I bramble on about everything and anything, hardly coming up for air.

Subconsciously, I realized he was far more depressed even than I was; his despair wasn’t going to vanish over a few crullers and cups of coffee. I wasn’t stuck in my room by choice, but by circumstances. I was lonely, but he was more than that. At 18, I almost understood his bleakness. Having dates or a girlfriend wasn’t going to return the paul his mother wanted back; that paul might be gone forever. Her dreams of his returning to college or looking for work hinged on him believing in himself. He didn’t anymore. I gave him my phone number, and told him to call me if he ever wanted to go for coffee, to a movie or just talk. He never called. I heard through my mother that he was reading books on suicide, and appeared to be starving himself to death. Then I left home, my parents moved, and the contact was broken.

I like to think that paul made it; that whatever had darkened those gorgeous blue eyes was lessened. That he got the help he needed to leave his room and rejoin s0ciety. That he found the belief in himself to finish college, get married and have grandchildren. But, I have this horrible, gut feeling that he is one of the statistics of adult male suicides.

My connection to marc was through mari*, the younger sister of a friend, I had grown closer to over the years. Tall and lanky, marc for some reason reminded me of my current hero at the time, Jack Kerouac. I had been devouring and redevouring On the Road. During an extended visit with mari one spring, I spent a lot of time with marc. He was funny, warm, a great storyteller, wonderful listener, spontaneous, albeit a drinker, and soft drug user. We would be having a silly conversation one minute and a deep philosophical/ethical one the next. He made me laugh til the tears ran and my sides ached. His hello and good-bye hugs enveloped you in genuine warm and fellowship. We said goodbye, and his “come back soon,” and my “I really hope so” were honest. Looking back, even then, I think I sometimes saw the mask go down and a hint of pain, of tragedy, of something that he used drinking and drugs to forget come through.

marc and I didn’t correspond (this is pre-email, smart phones, facebook and social media days!), but in her letters to me, mari she often mentioned marc saying hello, and asking how I was doing. Then came the tear stained letter – somehow marc had gotten a hold a shotgun, gone into the woods, and blown his brains out. Folks found him when he had been missing for several days. His friends were all shocked – no one had seen it coming. Everyone put the blame on his drinking and drug use. But I had a sense it ran much deeper than that.

I write about paul and marc now not because I have plans to follow in their footsteps, but to illustrate how far we have come in terms of mental health issues, and how far we still need to go (part II).

A day program in an outpatient’s setting would have helped paul, I think, deal with his withdrawal, and give him the confidence to rejoin the world. Maybe medication might have given him that extra boost and counseling narrowed down the reason(s) for his rejection of the world and life.

As for marc, maybe there were no signs that he would take his own life. We now know a lot more what to watch for. Something happened to him that caused him great pain, something he used a “painted on” smile, booze, and drugs to cover up. Whether he would seek and/or receive professional mental health help is of course a big if. Had he reached out, he might have found others with similar pain, similar sorrow, similar hopelessness. He might have learned he wasn’t alone in his darkness. Sharing might have saved his life.

And that’s the big IF – would paul and marc have made it in 2010s, not the mid to late 1970s?