Joy | Grief | Action | Change

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1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds

1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds

1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds

1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds

1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds

Suicide claims more lives per year than War, murder, and natural disasters combined.

September is Suicide Prevention Month. Yesterday, September 10th was National Suicide Prevention Day. So, I decided to give you my take on that.

The US suicide rate is up 33% since 1999, from 10.5 to 14 suicides per 100,000 people. Making it the 10th leading cause of death overall. Still trying to pinpoint trends or clues that link to suicide.

According to Christine Moutier, M.D. Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There are no obvious reasons for the rise of suicide. However, by looking at other countries suicide rate trends, socioeconomic change may be a part of the problem. Along with,

Health Factors:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Serious mental health conditions
  • Serious physical health condition

Environmental Factors:

  • Stressful life events
  • Divorce
  • Unemployment
  • Lethal means
  • Financial crisis
  • Relationship crisis

Historical Factors:

  • Past attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family history of trauma

Yet, there are no “obvious” reasons for the rise. Nor, are we changing how we access and administrate information. For a long time we were taught suicide “looked a certain way”. It was the depressed person in the corner, who isolates. It’s the person who withdrawals from family and friends. It’s the one who talks about killing themselves and their depression.….not always.

Therapists, like myself, who assess for suicide have no full proof that when our clients go home, they won’t complete. We ask the questions we’ve been taught from books written years back. We check for a plan, we combine knowledge and experience, but basically go off instinct. There is no guarantee. Because suicide doesn’t look the same for everyone.

I’ve read that Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell didn’t “seem” suicidal before they passed away. Chester Bennington’s wife posted a picture of him smiling and laughing with his family hours before he took his own life.

It was a shock to Kate Spades family when she completed. She told her dad on the phone she was planning a trip an hour before she completed. Anthony Bourdain, no one saw it coming.

And Robin Williams…..the man that brought so much light and laughter into our homes while growing up. That shocked the world!

Aria’s phone had a reminder for “Neha’s biiiirrrfffdayyyy” on February 7th. Aria passed the day before, February 6th.

How could we see that these people were going to complete?

How can we prevent suicide when there seems to be no “symptoms?”

I tell people now, to check in. You can never be too sure. Check in with your sad friends, busy friends, successful friends, funny friends, happy friends, and check in with your children, constantly. We don’t know when someone will be triggered.

But what is prevention?

Really? Truly? What is it that we are doing to actually prevent suicide?

Myself and others are walking on behalf of Aria for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Twin Cities Out of Darkness Walk on Sunday September 15th. Yesterday, I got an email from Cassandra Linkenmeyer, the Minnesota Area Director thanking our team (not by name) for being one of the top fundraising teams.

I emailed Ms. Linkenmeyer 3 months ago separate from the walk and never heard a thing. I guess when people bring money to your chapter, THEN there is worth to the individual we are walking in remembrance of. She couldn’t even escape from her template to write Aria’s name.

Looking forward to speaking with her on Sunday!!

Then there was the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, who sent a letter showing donations by family and friends in honor of “Caroline.” They got the names of the donators right, but not the person who died. I’m still waiting for my new letter with Aria’s name actually on it. I got the wrong letter on July 7th.

I don’t trust those big “prevention” companies; they are so impersonal. Actual prevention is a dream of mine. Where we start when children are young. Implement coping skills with the same importance as math class.

I can’t help but be mind blown that God put me in this position. I busted my ass and finished my Undergrad in Social Work in 3 years. Then finished my Masters in Clinical Social Work in 1 year. All so I could provide for Aria and give her a better life. Only to lose her a year and a half later to the ONE FUCKING thing I learned in college. An undergrad degree in social work is basically a degree to be an advocate and create awareness for the underserved. We learn how to come together to make systematic change for the well being of others. Then my Master’s degree was all therapy, all clinical therapy. You got the CBT, DBT, psychoeducation, and all the shit you need to know to assess for suicide. I have NO IDEA what God has planned for me but it doesn’t feel like a coincidence.

I think about it constantly and the weight and grief of it all feels so heavy. But, prevention is an action word and I don’t see enough action. Walking the lake in honor of Aria with the people who love her, is great. I’m so grateful for the donations that people made in her honor. But how does that implement change?

Shout Out Loud and their mission has been the only Suicide Prevention initiative that is actually making a tangible difference with the PrairieCare Child and Family fund. I will talk about them soon.

Today, we also remember the people who lost their lives on 9/11. We will never forget. Here is Aria at the 9/11 Tribute at the Lake Harriet Bandshell 6 years ago.

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