During the past few days, I have viewed texts and tweets about suicide issues and solutions, as well as, talked with people about suicide. I encountered people who lost loved ones to suicide or I’ve been reminded of people in my life who committed suicide. The truth is – “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”.
 
 
Many of those reasons boil down to depression. We all have those times in our lives when we’re depressed. It could be due to the death of a loved one, not getting a particular job we thought we had ‘in the bag’, death of a pet, calls from collection agencies, moving away from home, moving back home, not losing the weight we need to lose, overeating, overspending or it’s Monday. Some cases may be clinical depression, others may not. Regardless, depression about a situation can result in unintended consequences.
 
 
 
How Do you Know?
For a psychologist, I am not as intuitive as one might think. Maybe that’s why I am NOT a clinician. I have recently been told by some depressed people that they are good at hiding their depression. And it’s true. I couldn’t tell they were depressed, had they not told me. I’m not sure if my inability to discern depression is a good thing or not? 
 
 
I don’t know. I have known people who committed suicide although they were not immediately in my presence for 2-3 months before hand. I sometimes wonder, if I would have noticed or had the courage to say something to them about my suspicions. I can only wish I would have, if I had some idea about what they were contemplating.

 
 
What Happened?
After receiving my Master’s degree, I moved from the University of Arkansas and continued working on my dissertation. My dissertation chair and I kept in contact that following year or so and at one point he wanted to make sure we had everything written down about how things would progress. I remember saying, “We know what is supposed to happen when, so why must we write everything down?” He insisted, so we did. Then just before the Thanksgiving holiday he took his life.  When I found out later. I just couldn’t understand. That is the question which always remains, even when a note is left. We just don’t understand.
 
 
Kay and I worked out together lifting weights in Orange.  She was 10 years older than me, but did not look her age. She always said, she “wanted to be a great looking corpse.” Kay was fun-loving and positive. We always had great fun together.  After she and her husband moved to Victoria, we talked every 2-3 months or so.
I talked with her on the phone for a long time one evening, while we were living in Chicago.  I remember just after hanging up, I thought I needed to tell her we need to get together or at least, let her know how much her phone calls meant to me. But I said “I’ll tell her next time.” I had not heard from her in about 5 months, so I called and said to her husband, who answered the phone, “I haven’t heard from Kay, are her arms broken?” To which he replied.” I didn’t know how to tell you.” – “She committed suicide.” I told him, “I can’t talk, I have to go.” I did call back about a month later and talked to him. But I’ve never understood.

 
 
 
Questions & Answers
I wonder what I could have, would have said had I known either were thinking about taking their own life? What keeps people from going through with it – a new love, a kind word, a pet, a phone call, remembering a bible verse, their religion, helping others, or realizing what they thought they lost is not worth it? What is that life line? I’m sure it differs from person to person.
 
 
Things are left so incomplete when suicide occurs, for family, friends, acquaintances and people whose lives you’ve touched and you don’t even know it.  Both of these tragedies, which occurred decades ago, spur me to call anyone who runs across my mind. I never want to miss the opportunity to reach out to those I love.
 
 
 
To some, saying you are depressed may appear to give you a pass or an easy way out of work. It could be used as a way to keep a job, especially since many companies have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). But most people don’t use depression as an excuse, due to the stigma which can be attached to it.
Few people brag about being depressed. Anyone telling you about being depressed or suicidal is probably asking for help. And the extent of the help they need may be difficult to figure out.
 
 
Regardless of the reason for the onset of depression, help must be sought! Be it counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist (not me, I’m an experimental psychologist, it’s out of my league – but I can give you some good recommendations!). Number 1 – Seek help! 
 
 
If you feel the person you’re asking for help, can’t help you – ask them for a referral or who they would send your friend to see. (You know what I mean.) Suicide hotline numbers are easily available. There are people trained to handle these types of situations better than you or I can. (Unless, that is your skill set.)  The important thing is to continue being a friend.
 
 

What Counts?
You are not alone, although you may think you are. Others have felt and are feeling the same way you do – overwhelmed, sad, helpless, tired, complacent or alone.
 
 
There is hope. You’ve got to let people in who can help. Just as we tell children about abuse – “If it happens to you, you’ve got to keep telling until someone hears and helps you“. This also applies to the person dealing with depression or having suicidal thoughts. Find someone to give you the help you need.
 
 
 
Again, What Counts?
You do.

 

A Lifeline to Hope – 901-274-7477 (Memphis Crisis Center)
Depression Hotline 630-482-9696
Thinking about Suicide 1-800-273-8255

If I can help somebody by Mahalia Jackson

Dr. Harriette

 

 

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