27 Sep Suicide Prevention
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
When I think about suicide, I think of the mothers I know who have lost children to suicide. They never stop grieving. They grieve for the child they lost. They grieve for the life unfinished. They grieve for the possibility that they missed a sign and could have stopped it. And they fight. They fight to ensure others are aware of the dangers of suicide, they speak out in the hope that other mothers don’t experience the grief they live with, and they talk about suicide even if it makes others uncomfortable.
Tonight, I have one such mother on my heart – Dena Daniel. She passed away this weekend and I am grieving her loss. I met Dena when she trained to become a CASA Advocate. She was fierce. She was powerful. She was the voice for multiple children in foster care. Even though she was a tiny thing, she made sure the voice of the children were heard. She fought for their best interests and made sure they received everything they needed. She loved the children she advocated for. She was amazing. And she was my friend.
Last summer, her daughter Audra committed suicide. It was a blow that could topple any mother. It made her stronger. Don’t get me wrong, I know it broke her, too. But like I mentioned earlier, Dena was fierce. So, she took up the fight to make sure others were aware of the danger of suicide.
Dena recently shared these powerful words by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross on her Facebook: The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.
I learned a lot of things from Dena, one of those being that suicide needs to be addressed, not shoved in the closet. Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are considering suicide. Look for the warning signs. So in loving memory of Dena and her Audra, let’s talk about suicide.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. By being willing to talk openly and look for warning signs, you can help someone with suicidal thoughts or intentions connect with resources.
What signs do you look for? Signs can be many and varied – someone threatening to hurt themselves, seeking access to weapons, posting on social media about committing suicide, talking about feeling hopeless or depressed, increased use of alcohol or drugs, acting reckless, changes in sleeping habits, self-isolation, withdrawing from normal activities, extreme mood swings.
There are also risk factors that increase the probability of suicide. According to Youth.gov, children in foster care were almost three times more likely to have considered suicide and almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who have never been in foster care. Other risk factors include but aren’t limited to – mental disorders, alcohol and substance use disorders, history of trauma, major physical illness, loss of job or relationship, previous suicide attempts.
What can you do? Reach out and check on someone you are concerned about. Ask about suicide. Listen and offer hope. Help make a safety plan. Help navigate mental health care.
What if you are considering suicide? Reach out to someone. Help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.