Mental Health, Motivational

You are Not Alone

I came across an interview as a follow on from a friend’s blog.

It was on a sensitive topic.

I have lived through a family member’s depressive and suicidal behaviour, and spent a long time trying to analyse and digest what and why.

There are always questions and no answers. A puzzle that is never complete.

A mystery without a solution.

If a tragedy involving a young adult occurs, the parent is forever changed. There are no magic answers for dealing with it, no rulebook. It leaves a black hole of despair, a permanent scar, for which there is no cure.

How can we help to prevent it?

Suicide occurs less in impoverished circumstances, as opposed to those who have resources and might be perhaps more comfortable in a socio-economic sense.

“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever.

In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans.

Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie you can come back from Neuf York and you can get right back in there.”

Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.
auschwitz fences

 Johanna Reiss explains it in a better way than I could:

“The middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak.

(In) Elie Wiesel’s book. I had read that in concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis, so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too.

There were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”

www.thebrowser.com/books/interviews/reiss
auschwitz railway

“‘There has to be a reason for people to stay alive, there has to be hope, and there has to be somebody or something that is so important, that you couldn’t possibly leave it.’

Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American writer, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor wrote that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. And that’s the only time he mentions the allure of suicide.”

It is vital that the sufferer does not feel abandoned, that they have a reason to be.

You are not alone.

If you feel it is just too much, speak up and tell someone you are not okay.

Call a friend.

Send a message or text.

Tell someone that you need support.

Tell anyone you feel you can speak to, be that medical, commercial or religious.

Just speak up.

Let someone know.

Community

Hidden Lives and Human Resilience

Auschwitz
Birkenau

When visiting Auschwitz concentration camp and the Birkenau selection facility in Poland, the sobering reminder of man’s inhumanity to man, was painfully obvious. It was then that I was reminded of a transcript of an interview, I had read some time ago. This transcript discussed the surprising fact that suicide occurs less among those people, who lived in severely impoverished/low socioeconomic areas and those in concentration camps, as opposed to those who have resources and perhaps live in more comfortable circumstances. What can be learnt from the incredible resilience of survivors, who when faced with extreme brutality or hellish circumstances, continue on and survive?

Johanna Reiss explains it like this:

“the middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak, (In) Elie Wiesel’s book.  In concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis and so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too. And so there were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”

Auschwitz1

Kitty Hart a survivor of Auschwitz, in her documentaries, speaks of how she trained herself not to “think,” but just to do – just to live in the moment and do that, without thinking anything about the future, or indeed the next day.

 Birkenau
Flowers outside Birkenau

Impact on the Victim’s Circle

A parent’s mental state is forever changed when the tragedy of depression or suicide involves their child, no matter the child’s age, nor whether the child recovers or not. Many of those persons, closest to the victim, experience anguish that seems to leave a permanent scar, for which there is no miracle cure, perhaps only amelioration. How can we promote resilience for these people, who suffer a daily living hell?

“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever. In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father,and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans. Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie you can come back from New York and you can get right back in there.”

[Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.]  Click here to read more
Developing Resilience

I think this is a really important thing to remember if we are to combat suicide rates in all levels…. that the sufferer is not left feeling alone, feeling abandoned. Could it be that if an individual has a sense of responsibility towards another person more vulnerable, or if that person feels that the other absolutely needs them, the victim might cope better/ hang in there/be more resilient, no matter what? Might a reason to stay alive, be that they can then feel hope; that there is somebody or something that is so important, the victim cannot contemplate leaving, no matter how bad things become?

Elie Wiesel wrote about his experiences in a concentration camp as a boy and that he “was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him.” And that’s the only time he mentions the ‘allure of suicide.’

Oswiecim
Oswiecim (Auschwitz)

In reflecting on suicide in today’s world where it appears to be a hidden spectre, together with my own experience with a close friend’s depression and suicidal behaviour, I wonder if the resilience/coping strategies of people such as those mentioned, might just be something that could potentially encourage resilience and give hope to victims, where often there seems none?

Something Serious to Ponder About

Save

Mental Health, Motivational

Survivors of Suicide Day 18 – Worth and Day 22 – Value

How Three Survivors of Suicide Spent Their Last Days On Earth – http://wp.me/p6xgta-oS

Incredibly powerful stories, revealing in the way the writers take the reader into their heads and reveal their thinking.

As a young person, I worked as a Nurse and never understood my patients as much as I did after reading this post. Many people are not able to empathize with the sufferer but these words do help to relate the hopelessness and understand the thought patterns that lead to the most tragic act.

I think we can better understand the nature of suicide from survivors like this.

It is so important for us all to check in with others about how they are doing. A txt or phone call could mean everything.

This post constitutes Day 18 and Day 22 of Five Minutes of Summer –

Five minutes of Free Writing every day  for October

wpid-wp-1443948548820.jpeg

Something serious to ponder about

Mental Health, Motivational

Left to Pick Up the Pieces

There can only be one thing more nightmarish than hell itself, and that is to lose a child to  suicide. Gut-wrenchingly sad and tragic that a young life is lost. Gut-wrenchingly sad and tragic that the person has felt such emptiness and despair. Gut-wrenchingly sad and tragic that someone could feel so lacking in hope, so consumed with mental pain and anguish that this was even considered an option. And yet for their own family, who are left somehow to pick up the pieces, the consequences of this act can be so viscerally devastating, it is akin to a nightmare without end. Is it a selfish/revengeful act? An aberrant impulse? A distorted  or dysfunctional thought?

While the tortured soul focuses completely on their inner world, of thoughts and feelings, they fail to realise the contagion of misery and desperation will afterwards infect the rest of their closest allies, their own family or friends. How does one face the world and continue with life, after the loss of a close family member or child?

Many lives have ended here
Many lives have ended here

The strength humans display in the face of this kind of tragedy, is nothing short of awe-inspiring. To bury one’s own child is heart-breaking, but to experience a child who deliberately ends their lives is completely unfathomable. How do people get over such an act? How do they lift themselves out of the depths of  misery?

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And now, this week we have a man appear to conceal a mental illness and commit suicide on a German aircraft, taking 150 innocent lives with him. Not only that, but he has also taken his own family’s normal life and that of the victim’s families, on the path to a living hell, that is only just commencing. These people have to pick up the pieces of their own lives, and continue on, somehow.

Last week, a young boy from Australia drove a car filled with explosives into an army base, intending to cause maximum death and destruction and in the process, killing himself. A selfish act? A nutter? A kid with nothing to live for? A criminal? A sociopath?

I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a magic solution. Perhaps there isn’t one.  Each case of suicide is different, and each individual is different. Every socio-economic group, every ethnicity can be affected – no one is immune. But it is cowardly and selfish. The most selfish act imaginable. Australia, the egalitarian vanguard, has the highest rates of youth suicide in the world.

And so Life is a roller-coaster. It is unpredictable, full of hard times and challenges, and if you are so blessed, many good times too. For some of us, success doesn’t happen and when life becomes too overwhelming, we feel like quitting, or we might feel like ending the pain, yet there is always Hope, waiting, watching, willing us to believe that things will improve.

There is always Hope.

Can we stop suicide? 

What can we do:

  • We can be there to comfort and support our loved ones and our fellow man and woman.
  • We can make an effort if others appear stressed or unhappy.
  • We can appreciate every moment we have with each other, no matter how bored, tired, hungry, frustrated we may be feeling.
  • We can encourage others to seek help and reassure them of our support.
  • We can speak up, without shame, to others, when need dictates. Secrets kill….
  • And We Can  Listen to each other!
  • Reach out to one another – There is always hope!
  • Take a break – and relax!

Every person is a child of the Universe and has every right to be here.

Remember, “Everything, like the weather, passes.”

A final word from Marc: Whatever you believe to be true about yourself and life in the long-term becomes your reality.  Your beliefs are ingrained patterns of thinking that you build up over a lifetime.  They are habitual ways of processing the world around you.  If those beliefs don’t work in your favor, you can change them.  How?  In the very same way the negative beliefs formed in the first place – via repetitive thoughts that you accepted to be the truth.  Ingrain new beliefs by consciously choosing and repeating messages that lift you up.

Something sobering to ponder about.

If you need help or wish to talk to someone:

beyondblue.org.au

kidshelp

Lifeline

Mental Health

A Hidden life- Death and Suicide rates low in severely underprivileged groups

“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever.”

Johanna Reiss, (Author of ‘A Hidden Life’)

The tragic topic of suicide is rather personal to me as I have lived through a family member’s depression and suicidal behaviours, and spent much of my time trying to analyze and digest the thought processes and behaviour behind those times. As a parent, one is forever changed when tragedy involving a child occurs, and I have no magic answers for dealing with it. It leaves a permanent scar, for which there is no miracle cure, only perhaps some amelioration of the pain, over time. To say nothing of the mental pain of the sufferer, themselves.

If one looks at the bigger picture, it is interesting to note that suicide occurs less in impoverished or difficult circumstances, as opposed to those who have sufficient resources or perhaps, those who have or are perceived to have, ‘comfortable’ socioeconomic circumstances.

Can this be a key that will save lives and give those who suicide, hope where there is none?

Johanna Reiss explains it in a better way than I could:

the middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak. (In) Elie Wiesel’s book, I had read… In concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis and so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too. And so there were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”

I think a really important thing to remember in prevention of suicide is for the sufferer to remember they are never alone, are never abandoned.

 “In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father, …. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans. Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie, you can come back from New York and you can get right back in there.” .

And the other thing about suicide is that if a person feels that somebody totally needs them, they often manage to hang in there, somehow.

“There has to be a reason for people to stay alive, there has to be hope, and there has to be somebody or something that is so important that you couldn’t possibly leave it. Elie Wiesel wrote: (he was a boy in a camp) that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. And that’s the only time he mentions the allure of suicide.”

Something to ponder over during Mental Health Week.

Mental Health

Suicide – A Tragic loss of Hope

Suicide is a desperate act by someone who has lost all hope, or seeks to punish, or who suffers from intolerable mental pain and anguish.  There is nothing more devastating to a family than a young person who suffers in this way.

Moldiv_1401336598966

White wreaths lay in the city park today with accompanying stories of lives ( many of them young people) lost, of families split apart and heart – wrenching messages of grief, loss and sorrow and disbelief from those left behind. The messages also contained the chilling method these people chose to end their life.It was an intensely sobering and emotionally upsetting experiences walking amongst the wreaths. Some victims were as young as 14 or 15 years old.   A member of my own family has in the past, suffered with suicidal thoughts for a time and my thought was, ” When there is nothing else, there is always hope!”  There is always hope, isn’t there? I can only imagine the torment that would drive someone to commit suicide believing there was no more hope that things could improve.

Australia has one of  the highest rates of youth suicide in the world.

 

The White wreath Association aims to increase awareness of the social impact mental illness, and in particular, suicide has on our society and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. A choir all dressed in white, sang, “Things will get better” and the white wreaths were a pure and stark reminder of how many lives were lost to suicide this year, in one city alone. The white wreath association encouraged everyone to wear white to work on 29 May in support of their worthy cause.

C360_2014-05-29-13-22-10-141

 

If you know someone who has talked or contemplated suicide, I urge you to encourage them to tell someone about it, seek help and for you to be as supportive as you can. Do not turn your back on them especially if they have a plan of just how they would carry it out. This is a desperate and urgent call for help or attention. For suicide affects everyone around the victim and many lives are irrevocably changed and destroyed for ever.

White Wreath Association aims to:

  • Provide Advocacy and support to the sufferers of mental illnesses and their families.
  • Provide support to the family and friends of suicide victims through our National White Wreath Day held on the 29 May each year.
  • Raise awareness of the social impact mental illness has on our society.
  • Reduce the stigma associated with mental disorders through public awareness campaigns like White Wreath Day.

We are losing thousands of Australians each year to SUICIDE. With help we can reduce our alarming suicide statistics and build centres to provide a brighter future and quality of life for those in need.

Something sobering to ponder about today

Community, Mental Health, Motivational

Are You OK?

Charlotte Dawson’s tragic death, reminded me of a recent campaign that highlighted the issue of mental illness, primarily depression and suicide, in our community. The R U OK? Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging all people to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ as a support to colleagues and those who may be struggling with life. They aim to get people talking, by one person initiating a natural conversation that could change the way the other person is feeling or thinking. It won’t necessarily cure or solve a problem, but it may be an opportunity for us to show work colleagues/family/friends that someone cares, and who doesn’t want to feel that they were listened to?

How often do we hear comments following a suicide such as: “I thought they were fine; He seemed to be doing well /he was really happy; as if this was a total surprise. And maybe it was, so R U Ok? is a great way to identify people who are seemingly, “doing fine”, but are, in reality, suffering inside before they take any drastic steps.  It gives them an opportunity to talk, if they so wish, and may avert the downward spiral of their negative thinking.

R U OK?

Four steps were identified in the R U Ok? conversation:

1. Ask R U OK?

Start a conversation somewhere private

Build trust through open and relaxed body language

Ask open – ended questions: How, what, when, why, where, anything that does not generate a Yes No response. Paraphrase their answers so you are not firing off one question after another. You don’t want them to close down because they feel they are being interrogated.

2. Listen without judgement

Give them  time to reply

Avoid suggesting how they ‘solve’ their problem

Don’t trivialize what they are feeling

3. Encourage Action

Summarize the issues/ Paraphrase their comments

Ask them what they plan to do *** – don’t tell them what to do

Urge them to take one step towards that solution

4. Follow up ***

Put a note in your diary to call them in one week

Listen without judgement again

Ask if they’ve managed to take that first step

*** These aspects are particularly important, as they can galvanise the person into actually taking that first step, and not just thinking about it.

N.B. If they deny they have a problem, it might just mean that they are not ready to talk about it yet. so check in with them again soon. And remember… It is ok to say, “I’m not OK.”

BOUNCE BACK

The acronym BOUNCE BACK can also help individuals counteract negative thoughts.

B ad times, like bad weather, does pass. It doesn’t last. Things can always get better. Stay optimistic

O ther people can help if you talk to them. “I’m really not feeling ok”

U nhelpful thinking makes you feel more upset

N obody is perfect – not you and not others

C oncentrate on the positives (no matter how small) and use laughter (Laughter really is the best medicine!)

E verybody experiences sadness, hurt, failure, rejection and setbacks sometimes, not just you. They’re a normal part of life, don’t personalize them.

B lame fairly – how much was due to you, to others, and to bad luck?

A ccept what can’t be changed (but try to change what you can change first)

C atastrophising exaggerates your worries. Don’t believe the worst possible picture.

K eep things in perspective. It’s only one part of the spectrum of your whole life.

Mental Illness, depression, anxiety in the modern world is on the rise. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most commonly presenting mental illness in the world today.

R U OK?

Something sobering to ponder about.