September is Suicide Awareness Month
Many people are still reeling from Robin William’s death. It has sobered us all to the reality of pain. September is Suicide Awareness month and it seems fitting to continue the dialogue with just one more post dedicated to the topic.
I thought I would approach the topic as a psychologist to allow any of you who know a family member with similar challenges to recognize the scale of their struggle.
You see, people who contemplate suicide do not want to die – they just want the pain to stop. It is sad to recognize that there are many people who fully understand Robin William’s choice because they too have lost their connection to hope.
The one unifying principle in suicide is hopelessness. Someone once described depression as being in a deep dark hole in the ground with no ladder or rope. This feeling is the sense of hopelessness. The only apparent way out of the hole for them is to end their life.
People who are hopeless will often say things like:
- Things will never get better.
- I will never be happy again.
- I will never get over what happened.
- There is no point in trying anymore.
- I just want to give up.
- Things are hopeless.
- What do I have to look forward to?
- There is nothing that I can do to make things better.
We shouldn’t speculate about what made Robin William’s make the decision to end his life. It would be too simplistic to just say that he was hopeless. Suicide is always multi-determined. However, when people have a broken leg they use crutches until the leg heals. When people have a break in their spirit that leads to hopelessness it is “ok” to use a crutch and lean on someone else’s hope until the despair heals.
Depression and hopelessness can be treated. We must remember this; many of these tragic deaths are preventable. Providing support and connecting people with if a trained professional can save lives.
As simple as it sounds lifestyle changes can also have a big impact on depression
1) Incorporating a healthy diet with Omega3’s has been shown to have a positive impact on depression.
2) Letting the light in by opening curtains or spending time in the sun.
3) Spending time in cardio exercise has a positive impact on both the body and the mind.
4) Developing healthy sleep habits; learning about what is called “sleep hygiene.”
Additional treatment is to be open to working with a therapist who may, suggest a consultation with a psychiatrist for medication.
Research shows that therapy alone can have a positive impact on depression. Medication alone can also impact depression. However the combination of the two has shown to have the most positive impact.
When people question the idea of treatment, a way of thinking about it is to consider what it is like to drive a car with no shock absorbers. Every bump in the road is felt. After several minutes, the car feels like it is “bottoming out.”
With therapy and/or medication it is like changing the shock absorbers in the car. The bumps in the road are still there but the car does not “bottom out. “Treatment can help lessen the impact of the bumps in the road, making life more bearable for the person.
Treatment can change the hopelessness of “Things will never get better” to the possibility of having a rope to help climb out of the hole. And we should all strive to recognize and provide resources to as many cases of depression as possible to avoid these tragic circumstances.
See more in What Made Robin Williams Take His Life?