This week’s post is by Sue Martin, whose story illustrates two ideas we ought to run with. First, there’s no need to confine our stories to the world of mental health or suicide prevention. Sue’s an author and an emerging public speaker, and so far her audiences have been blind rehabilitation professionals who see her attempt as just one part of her life experience. The response, she says, has been wonderful.
Second, dismissing someone’s story of recovery just because they mention how they tried to kill themself really risks missing the point. As you’ll see, Sue mentions up front what she did because it’s crucial to everything that follows.
This week’s post comes to you from prison.
I recently met Manny Bermudez in the visiting room of Great Meadow Correctional Facility in upstate New York, a few hours’ drive from New York City. It’s a stark place. Prisoners and visitors are separated by a low metal counter. Around us, inmates and family members handed little children back and forth while catching up on their lives. Outside, a massive white wall blocked the view of the nearby Adirondack Mountains.
Manny is slight, with glasses and dark hair cut so short that the scars on his scalp are visible. As we talked, he pulled back the long sleeves of his dark-green cotton shirt and showed off extensive tattoos.
A closer look showed the scars across his wrists.
Before moving on to this week’s guest post, here’s some good news: The Huffington Post has published our blog post from last week on its site as part of a special feature on suicide attempt survivors.
Separately, also worth a look are these video interviews with three pioneering attempt survivors who talked openly about their experience back in the day, not long ago, when no one dared to mention it.
The trend toward a more public discussion of suicide attempts continues, and here’s the latest example: The Huffington Post has teamed with TED for a weekend series on “ideas worth spreading,” and this weekend featured the well-known TEDTalk by JD Schramm about his suicide attempt and his wish that we all speak more openly.
“My TEDTalk may have begun a conversation, but the challenge now is how to continue that dialogue,” Schramm writes. The hundreds of comments are worth reading.
It’s been a welcome surprise that most contributors to this blog have been able to write openly, including their names, but this is a good time to remind everyone that people who need to remain anonymous are just as welcome to write something for us.
This week’s post is by Heather, who asks that we use her first name only. “You can put that I’m a psychiatric nurse and a mother to an awesome little boy,” she says in an e-mail.
Before regular contributor GC takes over today’s post, here’s an important development for anyone who’s had thoughts or actions of suicide.
The American Association of Suicidology, which launched this blog, has been around for decades and has divisions for research, clinicians, prevention, crisis centers and the bereaved. People with lived experience have had to slot themselves into one of these groups or float freely.
But last month at its national conference, the association agreed to create a special interest group for attempt survivors _ essentially giving us an organized voice there for the first time.
This week’s post is by Jennifer Garing, an epidemiologist in Texas who works closely with the state suicide prevention coordinator and surveys youth on a variety of risk factors in their lives, including suicide attempts. “I collect the only statewide data on adolescent suicide attempts and suicidal ideation,” she says.
As you’ll see here, she comes at the topic with some personal experience.
Today’s post is by Sandra Kiume, a writer and activist who has turned years of personal experience into a spirited understanding of the ways peers can help one another.
This week’s post is by Craig A. Miller, who contributed a strong post earlier about the difference between not wanting to die and wanting to live. Here, he talks about moving forward. Visit Craig’s website at Thisishowitfeels.com.
“Why?” As a suicide attempt survivor I can’t tell you how many times I have sat with people and tried to give them an answer to that question. When doctors would ask I would become frustrated, because they should be the ones with the answers. When family would ask I would feel guilty, because anything I said was misinterpreted as blame. And when friends would ask I would just become quiet, because no one could ever really understand what I was going through.
This week’s post is by Karen Neumair, a literary agent and mom who describes herself as “a lover of God and a lover of words, especially when those two things come together.”
“You need to recognize that depression comes as the result of a failure in self-control and self-discipline. … Depression comes when we fail to handle the blues, the disappointment, the perplexity, the guilt, or the physical affliction God’s way.”
I read the ancient 1970s pamphlet over and over as I sat across from a lay Christian counselor I had met just a few minutes earlier. I was speechless.
Welcome to a new group of readers who found this blog after The Associated Press published a long story over the weekend on attempt survivors and the trend in speaking out. “We’re not that fragile,” one woman told the reporter. “We have to figure out how to talk about it, rather than avoiding it.”
The story has gone all over. It showed up on the sites of The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, and elsewhere. Responses so far have been wonderful and strong. “One myth that needs to be laid to rest: People do not attempt or commit suicide because they are cowards. They do it because they are hurting,” one woman commented on the AP’s Facebook page.
A note to the media: Interested in pursuing your own story on this, or including those with thoughts or actions of suicide when reporting on suicide? Let us know. We can talk about what is, as the AP story notes, a serious public health issue _ and we want to.