This week’s post is by Hollis Easter, who works at a suicide hotline. This is a condensed version of a recent post on his blog, where he writes frequently about mental health issues. “If you ask me why I’m not just over it already, I will ask you why you haven’t learned compassion yet,” he wrote this month about some of the annoying questions around depression. “What more important lesson is there?”
My work on suicide prevention really began in 2004 when I took a full-time job as a program director at a suicide hotline in northern New York. Our field has done a lot in the last 10 years. Here are some of the things that make me glad, and some thoughts about where we should head next.
This week’s post is a conversation with Tim Brown. We were introduced to him by Sally Spencer-Thomas of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, who has always been thoughtful about pointing out people who speak openly about this. Tim, an entrepreneur and former CEO, spoke at a recent event that Sally organized _ the video is above _ and he’s now releasing a book about his experience:
In my book, I write about the difference between cracked glass and shattered glass and the way they leak at different rates. You think about professional jobs out there and everything tied up in it. There’s the false perception out there that if you’re a doctor, lawyer, etc., they’re not affected by things in their life. But we’re all human, we all have emotions, different perspectives depending on where we are in life’s journey. My goal with my story was never about my story, it was about their story, giving people the perspective that they’re not on an island. They’re worthwhile, worthy, not as hopeless or helpless as they might have thought. At least for me, as my depression got worse, I was isolating myself more. Everyone has a story, and we can all learn from one anther’s perspectives and life experiences.
This week’s post comes from the UK. Rhiannon Stuart is 28 and describes herself as follows: “Oldest child of four girls, happily engaged to the girl of my dreams. We have two cats & cannot wait until we have a family of our own.” Her past no longer defines her, she says. She’s come too far to go back:
I remember waking up, not knowing where I was. I saw a clock on the wall. It was about 12:30. That’s all I remember before I fell asleep once again. The next time I awoke, the clock said 2:45. I have no idea if only two hours had passed, or 14. I couldn’t move my hands, and something was irritating my nose. I still had no idea where I was. The next time I woke up, I couldn’t see the clock.
This week’s post features excerpts from an interview with Kimberly O’Brien, a professor at Simmons School of Social Work and Harvard Medical School who is using her personal experience to inform her work. The SocialWork@Simmons blog published the full interview last month and invited us to share it, “to help contextualize how talking about suicide and sharing stories makes a significant impact.” Kimberly also uses the chance to promote the recently released report “The Way Forward,” a federally funded project by a national attempt survivor task force that demands sweeping change. (She even made a video to support it.)
Here are excerpts from her interview:
This week’s post comes from the UK, by Kit Johnson, author of the memoir “Dodging Suicide.” His website lays it out well: “I’d been fired more times than a cannon, and with 15 houses, three wives, umpteen messed-up relationships, 37 cars and Lord knows what other ‘if only I had this’ purchases, I came to the conclusion my life was bizarre! – and that the best thing for me was to step back, stop worrying and laugh at its absurdity.”
This week’s post is by Rafeal Newport, a counselor with the recently launched peer-run warmline of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco. It’s available weekdays from noon to 8 p.m. at 855-845-7415 and online for chat. A directory of warmlines and an introduction to what they do can be found here.
Before I talk about my story of being a suicide attempt survivor, I want to talk a little about who I am. I am a proud Bay Area native, a loud and proud queer and a fierce woman of color. I love to read, hike, hang out at the beach, nerd out on foodie activities and laugh — oh, how I love to laugh. I have been an LGBTQI and women’s activist since I was 16 years old and have worked as a doula, non-profit worker and health educator.
This week’s post is by Julie Hersh, the president of the Texas-based Hersh Foundation. Her memoir about her experience is being published this month in Spanish as “Decidi Vivir.” She shares her personal top 10 list of ways to stay well here.
One rarely hears “mental illness” without the word “stigma” in close proximity. We read about tragic stories of lives lost because people failed to seek treatment because of fears they might be ostracized, lose jobs or friends. Although the possibility of rejection does lurk with each naked statement about mental illness, my experience has been that my openness has accumulated a handful of bad encounters and thousands of good ones.
On Wednesday, a spirited project called Now Matters Now launches with tools designed to help people work through suicidal thinking. It stands out because the team behind it, including the young researcher leading it, knows what suicidal thinking feels like.
This week’s post is by Daryl Brown, who writes from South Africa. Early next year, he will begin his studies to become a psychologist, and he’s a member of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, which runs depression education programs in underprivileged schools across the country. “There is much ignorance about suicide and depression in South Africa, which has caused a perception that one should not talk openly about it,” he says.
Also, some news: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website in the U.S. should be launching a page today for attempt survivors and others who’ve been suicidal. Here’s Daryl:
I did not admit that I suffered from depression until after my suicide attempt. Depression seemed like an excuse other people made for getting attention or not being able to solve their own problems. I did not associate that with what I had. What I had was just a restless, uneasy, niggling sadness that I kept to myself. So last year, when that niggling sadness grew into a gaping black hole that swallowed my joy and enthusiasm and hope for the future, I quietly put my affairs in order and opted out of life. But life was not ready to let me go.
In July, this video launched to raise international awareness about suicide and suicidal thinking in law enforcement. It features Det. Jode Sprague of the Denver Police Department talking openly about his own suicidal thinking. We spoke with him soon afterward about “coming out,” what crisis response looks like from his point of view, and more.