Survivors

“Shame Festers in Dark Places”: Keeping Suicide Secret

“Shame Festers in Dark Places”: Keeping Suicide Secret

A friend recently sent me an anguished email about someone she knew whose teenage daughter died the week before. The mother was telling others that the death was an accident, when it was unquestionably a suicide. This saddened my friend greatly – not only the suicide itself, but also the family’s shame, so intense that […]

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What’s Your Pleasure?

What’s Your Pleasure?

If you are depressed, stressed, or grieving, the term “pleasurable activities” may seem oxymoronic – no activity possibly could bring pleasure. Maybe you cannot even remember what gives you pleasure – or what once gave you pleasure no longer does. You may also think that pleasure is simply petty. If you feel so bad that […]

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Is a Suicide Attempt a Cry for Help?

Is a Suicide Attempt a Cry for Help?

“She is not really suicidal. She just wants attention.” “He did not really attempt suicide. It was just a cry for help.” “If she had really wanted to die, she’d be dead.” These are often the reactions of friends and family to a suicidal person. Sometimes, it is true that a person who made what […]

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Shame, Stigma, and Suicidality

Shame, Stigma, and Suicidality

Many people feel ashamed of their suicidal thoughts. This shame can be about any number of things, often contradictory: thinking of suicide, being unable to stop thinking of suicide, not acting on suicidal thoughts, acting on suicidal thoughts, and so on. Shame especially can follow a suicide attempt. One small study found that most of the […]

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The People You Would Leave Behind

The People You Would Leave Behind

“I’m a burden. They’ll be better off without me.” “They’ll get over it.” “Nobody will care that I’m gone.” Do you tell yourself any of these things? Many people who think of suicide do. In fact, a leading expert in suicide research, Thomas Joiner Jr., PhD, writes that seeing yourself as a burden to others is a […]

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What are Your Reasons for Living?

What are Your Reasons for Living?

If you have suicidal thoughts, then you probably have clearly spelled out in your head your reasons for dying. These reasons may taunt you, incessantly reminding you of what is wrong with your life, perhaps even the world. Do you pay more attention to your reasons for dying than your reasons for living? People’s reasons […]

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Preventing Suicide Attempts in 4 Sessions: Is It Possible?

Preventing Suicide Attempts in 4 Sessions: Is It Possible?

In just four sessions, the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program aims to stop somebody who recently attempted suicide from making another attempt. This is quite an important goal, because a previous suicide attempt is the largest predictor of eventual suicide. Is it really possible to prevent another suicide attempt with just four sessions of therapy? […]

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The Most Dangerous Time: Suicide After Discharge from a Psychiatric Hospital

The Most Dangerous Time: Suicide After Discharge from a Psychiatric Hospital

There are many characteristics that place a person at higher risk for suicide – depression, substance use, a prior suicide attempt, as examples.  It is important for clinicians to know that an especially dangerous characteristic, one that exponentially increases the chances of suicide, is recent discharge from a psychiatric hospital. I am at the Aeschi West […]

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Coping with the Suicide of a Loved One

Coping with the Suicide of a Loved One

The grief, loss, and bewilderment following the suicide of a loved one can be overwhelming. Many reactions are common, ranging from everything from shock to anger to self blame to considering suicide for yourself.  There are questions, so many questions. “Why?” “What if…?” “What could I have done?” And there are few, if any answers. […]

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Why Prevent Suicide? Here Are My Reasons.

Why Prevent Suicide? Here Are My Reasons.

 “If someone’s life is so awful that they want to die by suicide, why stop them?” I am frequently asked some variation of this question, even by mental health professionals. Once, a therapist told me about a client of hers with schizophrenia. “He is miserable, and he will always have schizophrenia. I think letting him […]

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