A Matter of Life and Death


I remember . . . as a senior in high school during lunch time, a classmate, (someone I had known since kindergarten) had come back drunk and upset.  He was mumbling and confronting some other guys. One couldn’t really understand what he was saying. The bell rang and we all went back to class, all except this classmate. We later learned he had gone home and taken his life not long after we saw him. Mind boggling - what was so bad that he would want to end it all? Why? Was there anything any of us could have said or done? We didn’t know. The questions lingered loudly within each of us.

How about you? What comes up for you? What memory or thought? Or maybe you don't linger on it and instead -  quickly toss it out of your thoughts. Most of us have close contacts to someone who has experienced a loved one’s death by suicide.


Sucide has become an epidemic.


Suicide has become an epidemic! There are 35,000 completed suicides per year in the United Stated  with known attempts numbering 650,000 per year. 90% of people who die by suicide have a treatable mental illness.  Most people give some indications that are thinking of taking their life. Although some people do keep it highly concealed giving no indication of their intent. 

We all need to be aware of signs and how to seek help. Severe major depression and bi-polar disorders are two of the main mental illnesses associated with suicide. Adding substance abuse to the mental illness increases chances of suicide. 

Many people who have attempted suicide state they were initially angry at loved ones for intervening but also state they were intent on carrying out their death and are now thankful the intervening took place. 


Be aware of signs that could indicate your loved one is having suicidal thoughts. Click here for list of signs.

riends and family can be hesitant to intervene or impose. Your friend or family member may get mad, but as long as they're breathing there is hope. Many people who have attempted suicide said they were initially angry at loved ones for intervening, but also state they were intent on carrying out their death and are now thankful the intervening took place. 


 Here's some tips for family and friends.

1. Be Open, Direct, Ask Questions.

Talk about suicide.Have a dialogue with the person. Ask the person if they're thinking of taking their life. Talking about suicide does not put the idea in a person's head. Instead, it creates an opportunity for your loved one to speak about what they're experiencing and opens the door for seeking help. 
       "Do you ever feel so badly you think about suicide?"
       "Have you ever thought you would be better off dead?"

2. Ask about a Plan

If a person has thought about the way they would take their life, the greater probability of them carrying it out. By asking these questions, you will be able to assess if the person is in immediate danger.
        "Have you thought about a way you would take your life?"
        "Have you thought about when and where you would do it?" 

3. Seek Help

Never keep a plan a secret. If you think a life is in danger, try to convince the person to go to the doctor, a professional counselor and tell the family to enlist a 24 hour watch on the person and call the police or 9-1-1. Do not leave the person alone. This is not the time to worry about losing the person's trust or friendship. It's better to lose a friendship and trust than attend a funeral.  Most of the time, they will thank you for saving their life. 

4. Educate Yourself

The more you know the better you'll be able to notice warning signs. There are multiple online sites with valuable information.  Go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org,  American Association of Suicidology,  suicidology.org andAssociation Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org) for education and valuable resources. Contact a local survivors of suicide (SOS) organization, mental health professional or clinic for resources in your area.  

5. Be Aware.  

Notice if your loved one has shown any of the warning signs. Pay attention to their lifestyle, changes in mood and behavior, a renewed sense of happiness and calm after a period of distress.  A state of calm or happiness after distress may indicate the person has decided to carry out their plan to take their life. Educate yourself. Contact suicidepreventiononlifeline.org or Call 1-800-273-8255. This is a resource for you and the person you're concerned about. 

6.  LIsten with your Heart  

Do not try to talk someone out of their self hatred or hopeless thoughts. It will not work. Don't minimize their problems or shame them. Contradicting what someone feels does not change their feelings. Trying to convince someone with mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts that it's not that bad only increases their pain and prevents them from sharing what's going on inside them. Reassure them help is available, they can feel better and their thoughts are temporary.

7. Find Help Together

If loved one is not in immediate danger, assist the person in finding a professional counselor and a doctor. Help make the phone call or attend the first session. This is a time to follow through and not worry about being intrusive. Assure the person they can get help, heal, feel better.

Suicide is preventable. The majority of people with suicide attempts and completion gave some indications through statements, behavior or social media. YOUR ACTIONS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  if you would like to talk and receive additional information, contact me at  patty@counselingfresno.org or (559) 577 3994. 

Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Posted on October 1, 2015 and filed under loss, grief.