I have been thinking a lot about how a person decides that there is no way out- of their pain, their loneliness, their apathy to life. While I have never felt that desperate, I have a tremendous amount of empathy for those who feel the only choice left is to take their own life. I have felt the heavy hands of depression weighing me down, but luckily not on a chronic basis. I have known others who have been overtaken with dread and despair and find relief with medications or therapy. We all deal with stressors in our lives- stressful jobs, difficult relationships, ill children or family members, etc. “Normal” life itself can seem like an uphill battle wading in quicksand, even without an actual crisis moment. Unfortunately, once we took off the loincloth and started advancing in the world, our lives became more and more complicated. In the past, our sympathetic “fight or flight” response only kicked in when we were chased by the bear that wanted us for dinner. Now, however, that response occurs when sitting in traffic or running late for an important meeting. Our lives have become full of so many worries, that we no longer know what is truly life-threatening or not. My hope is that this article will help at least one person with suicide prevention.
My concern for this subject began after hearing about suicide in veterinary medicine. I listened to a very informative webinar on the subject by the VETgirl website here. In the last few years, there have been some highly publicized suicides from prominent veterinarians. One of these veterinarians was a leader in animal behavior and handling and seemed to have everything going for her. Why would someone like that decide their only option is to take their own life? I am disturbed with statistics stating that vets are four times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Why? Some theories are that we as a profession are less likely to seek help; we’re driven and high achievers and unable to cope with failure; we’re overwhelmed by our many roles (wife, mother, doctor, etc.); a different attitude towards death; access to drugs to achieve suicide. No matter what the reason, this clearly is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
My hope is that we can all be a support for each other and consequently contribute to suicide prevention. When we are in the daily grind of work, kids, chores, we forget that there are others who feel the same way. When we see someone struggling, we can look them in the eyes and sincerely tell them, “I’m here for you if you want to talk.” There are always other people who are going through the same thing. When I talk to other moms, they feel the same pressures of life. It’s reassuring to know that you are not alone and someone else understands. It’s a relief to hear “Oh yeah, I went through that last week.” It gives us hope that “this too shall pass.” We all have the innate desire to want to belong to something, to a community. Hopefully by sharing and supporting as a community, no one will feel like they are so alone that they have nothing to live for.
For those who are feeling they have no way out, please know that there is hope out there. There is always a solution and someone willing to help. There is no shame in asking for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is an organization that can help and their number is 1800-273-TALK(8255). For those who know someone who might have suicidal thoughts, don’t wait for that person to get help on their own. Tell them you care and it can get better. If they say they want to kill themselves, believe them. Many people who try to commit suicide will tell someone first and that should never be ignored. Anyone can call 911 and request a welfare check on someone if you have their name and address. In addition, 2-1-1 is a free service that can provide programs to help with mental health. Please know that we can all be instrumental in suicide prevention and make a difference. Life is supposed to be shared with others and not a solitary activity. Everyone on this earth has value and is supposed to be here to fulfill their own inherent destiny, whatever that may be, whether they believe it or not.
Joyful thought for the day: “The more in harmony with yourself you are, the more joyful you are and the more faithful you are. Faith is not to disconnect you from reality- it connects you to reality.” -Paulo Coelho