March 7, 2010

A Life Saving Post (In More Ways Than One)

"I'm the boy they can't ignore/for the first time in my life I'm sure/All the love sent up high to pledge/Won't reach the ledge

This is the crisis I knew had to come/destroying the balance I kept....

Unfortuntely, one of the more distressing trends within current popular culture is the increase in coverage of celebrity suicides. So much that, ironically, no coverage is being given to a man who has helped promote the idea of suicide prevention.

(And to answer your question - no, Robert Litman did not commit suicide. Shame on you for even thinking it. And the two quotes above are from songs about suicide, and one from a band whose lead singer hung himself, and yes, they're affiliate links.)

Being the public health advocate that I am, I wanted to chime in and be part of the solution. I seriously thought about this - I didn't want to be morbid, and as someone who's never known anyone to commit suicide, I've never been particularly affected by it.  But I did want to reach out - call it the power of the Internet. This is my attempt to share some resources, to help educate, and more importantly, to hopefully assist one person who's in pain, and who needs it.

First, I'm going to advise anyone who's thinking of committing suicide to please read this first. Don't worry, the blog will still be here. I love how the author puts the main motivation for suicide as:
"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

Amazingly simple yet incredibly powerful. You feel alone with, in reality, you're not. You're overwhelmed, and you feel you have no way out.

The next, hardest step is to reach out - find someone to talk to, someone to share your burden. Many cities have low-cost or sliding scale mental health centers. There are even hotlines that you can call in order to talk it through. (And in the UK, there's even people you can send e-mail to in order to share what's going on).

Also, educate yourself - the AFSP has a Twitter account that shares information and attempts to engage people in advocacy. You can find some good information about suicide through the National Institute of Mental Health. It speaks volumes that there are organizations that are spreading a message of hope.

But more importantly, there is another message that needs to be heard - it's easy to fall into the trap of taking people for granted, of treating them maybe less than respectfully. To not reach out and see how people are doing. Admittedly, this has been a tough week - not because of my birthday, but some health issues with Mom and some other matters that are best handled privately.

I'm eternally grateful for friends who have been there, and who legitimately wish me well. Somewhere, out there, is somebody who (for whatever reason)  is not as fortunate, and that person needs help.

Suicide should not be the hottest thing in pop culture. Let's work hard to keep it that way.

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