Archive for September 2012

Thoughts on the Summit on Suicide Prevention and Awareness

I went to see Dr. Joiner speak at the Civic Center in Lima on September 18 for the Summit on Suicide Prevention and Awareness.  There was so much information presented at the summit that day.  I learned a whole lot, as did my husband who accompanied me.

Dr. Joiner repeatedly referred to a documentary, The Bridge.  This is a 2006 documentary by Eric Steel, the result of one year’s filming of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. In the year that Steel and his crew captured footage of the bridge, they also captured a number of suicides, the result of various people jumping from the bridge. In the days following the summit, I decided to watch the full documentary, The Bridge.  As you can imagine, this film is both haunting yet poignant.

While the footage shown in the documentary of those who actually jumped is quite unforgettable, I think we, as viewers, are so desensitized when it comes to violence, that the “shock value” of the film itself doesn’t necessarily have the profound effect that it should. Don’t get me wrong; the footage of the jumpers is powerful. I just think that as a society we are so used to graphic, disturbing images that, as a viewer, I really had to keep reminding myself that this is real. This is not an action movie starring Liam Neeson. This is real life, and these people are taking their lives. And we’re watching it.
So while the actual images of individuals ending their lives is without a doubt moving, it is the interviews conducted with friends or relatives of the jumpers that I found to be the most stirring aspect of the documentary. Eric Steel, the filmmaker, conducted interviews with some of the loved ones of those who had jumped from the bridge, and in my mind, there was a reoccurring theme in the film. Many of these people he captured on film, revealing their thoughts of their, for the most part, now deceased loved ones, all had one thing in common. The attitude just seemed to be pretty defeated…like they’d done everything they could for their son, or daughter, or friend… and if that person were going to jump, well…he or she was going to jump. It did seem that many of them had regrets, but the overwhelming tone was one of…acceptance, maybe?

I’m not sure how I feel about this. I agree, that if a person is determined to take his or her life, that person often does find a way to do it, no matter how much other people seem to attempt to intervene and prevent it. It is incredibly sad, tragic, and haunting, but unfortunately, anyone with free will has that potential to end his or her life. Hopefully as a society we can talk more about it and continue to discuss suicide so that the stigma goes away and we can productively prevent people from committing suicide.

Suicide Prevention

In September we are focusing on suicide prevention and awareness. I thought I’d use my first blog entry to talk about my own experience.

I have never attempted suicide. I have thought about it many, many times, though. I don’t really ever think about how I’d do it…it’s more that I think about how it’d be if I did do it…like, who would come to my funeral? Who would care? Would that many people care?
Now, why do I think about it?
Well, I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar II, as well as generalized anxiety disorder. I’m prone to periods of depression. Anxiety just sometimes holds Depression’s hand and says, “Let’s go! We can ruminate for hours and hours, and take you into a downward spiral that will seem impossible to come out of!” When I’m severely depressed, I feel as if I have no purpose on this planet. I feel like a failure as a wife. I feel like a failure as a mother. I feel like everyone would be better off without me. Plus, I want the physical, mental, and emotional anguish that has a chokehold on my entire body to go away. I want rid of the pain. I just don’t want to be here.

So why haven’t I ever attempted suicide, even though it’s crossed my mind so many times? Well, for one, I don’t think I must have ever gotten to that lowest of low points where I saw nowhere out, where I saw taking my life as the only option left. Those times when I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve called a friend who I know understands, and I get the help I need. I also think of my children and my family, and even though when I’m super depressed I feel everyone would be better off without me, I’ve been fortunate enough to have those lucid moments where I know how much I’d devastate and hurt people I love, and I can’t bear actually going through with it.

I guess my experience really isn’t that extreme. I’ve never been to the point that I’ve carried out any plan. I am thankful for that. Just know, anyone reading this, that I understand what it’s like to contemplate suicide. There is no shame in talking about it or getting help. If you are ever that point, I’m someone who can be there for you. I understand.

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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