Generally, all suicide prevention advocates want to normalize the subject of suicide so that people who are feeling suicidal or have lost a loved one to suicide feel safe talking about it with others. Mass media and entertainment (like television shows and movies) can be conversation starters, with one exception: Suicide prevention organizations want the media to address the topic of suicide in a way that promotes suicide prevention. This is why so many suicide prevention organizations have a problem with Netflix’s show 13 Reasons Why.
We just heard the devastating news that Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington took his own life today. A father of six and an immensely talented musician, Chester’s suicide is a blow to millions - including suicide prevention advocates who are also music aficionados (and vice versa).
As the world reacts, here are a few talking points the public should know:
We all empathize with our friends and family, when they are going through a rough time. All we want to do is help take their pain away—and there are a variety of paths we can take to help them with that pain. For loved ones struggling with their mental health, there are also multiple ways to try and alleviate that pain, but suicide should never be one that is encouraged because no matter how bad life can seem, there are always better routes to take.
“You have to treat the root of the problem, and not just operate on the symptoms,” explained Ebbem, a Norwegian medical student and my seatmate on a recent flight from Oslo to Amsterdam. “When I did my psychiatric rotations in northern Norway, I would ask people ‘How are you today?’ and they would talk for great lengths and detail about everything that was bothering them. It was as if no one had ever asked them ‘How are you today?’ It was clear they had a lot to get off their chest. It helped that I was an outsider who they had never met and had no long-term presence in their community.”
Men in the middle years — that is, men between the ages of 35 to 64 — make up less than a fifth of the U.S. population. They also account for 40 percent of suicides.
As I mentioned in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s (SPRC) Spark Talk video, because of the large number of people in this demographic and its high rate of suicide, it will not be possible to reduce the overall number of suicides in the U.S. unless the MIMY suicide rate drops.
This week, I have a personal call to action: Asking your state Representatives to support SHB 1047, the secure drug take-back bill. In order to stay alive, this bill (now in the House Rules Committee) needs to be pulled from Rules and receive a floor vote by 5PM on Wednesday, March 8.
With enough phone calls and emails to legislators, this will happen!
More adolescents than ever are struggling with their mental health. While not a shock, this reality comes with concerns: How do we help adolescents? How do we fix mental health issues? Where do we target adolescents who need the help? The Boston Herald’s Kathleen McKiernan investigates the answers that we as a community so desperately need in Special Report: Schools face surge in suicide attempts.
It's rare to find a person who can accurately and meaningfully describe the unique agony of someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. In fact, it takes someone who has known that pain first-hand. Kristen Spexarth knows it from the loss of her son, Colby, and she has bravely and lovingly found the words to describe her journey—beautiful, wise words that are a balm to me and to many other suicide loss survivors.