I want to share my story and as the words of another survivor can best articulate,

“If telling my story can comfort another survivor, then I will continue to tell it. If I can get information into the hands of someone who can save a life, then I am doing something incredible. I may never know for sure that my work has saved a life. I can live with that; I don’t want to live with the ‘what if’ questions of never having tried.”

— Laurell Reussow, survivor

If you have had or are experiencing suicidal thoughts or know someone who is GET HELP NOW!

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

My brother completed suicide August 2, 2007 (see My Brother Chris page for more about him). The use of “completed” is intentional, as “committed” gives the connotation of a crime. And while it was actually outlawed in our country for many years, it is not a crime. It’s a devastating form of death that leaves the survivors (those left behind) with broken pieces to put back together. Surviving suicide is one of the hardest, if not the hardest death to survive.

Many people misunderstand the nature of suicide and it’s causes. There is much education needed on the matter in our country. The statics I share on this page, I have gathered from the Association for Suicide Prevention. I am limited in my space, so please visit their website for in depth help and information. They are an excellent resource.

General

  • Over 30,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. (Though this number is thought to be much higher due to the fact that many suicides are not reported or are reported as “accidental overdose”, a car crash into a tree, or an “accidental” firing of a weapon)
  • In 2004 (latest available date), there were 32,439 reported suicide deaths.
  • Suicide is fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the U.S., with approximately 26,500 suicides.
  • Currently, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States. An attempt is estimated to be made once every minute.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but twice as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • Every day, approximately 80 Americans take their own life, and 1,500 more attempt to do so.

Depression

  • Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression.
  • Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 19 million people.
  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (7 million), cancer (6 million) and AIDS (200,000) combined.
  • About 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some time during their lifetime. Thirty percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide; half of them ultimately die by suicide.
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be recognized.

Studies indicate that the best way to prevent suicide is through the early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses.

Help For Survivors

I can share from personal experience how hard it is to come to terms with the loss of someone by suicide. Studies suggest that for every suicide, at least 8 people are affected. If you are one of those affected, please seek help. Grief is a hard road to travel, but it is better than not traveling it at all. There are thousands if not millions of others in your same boat.

Visit www.afsp.org for information on support groups.
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/road2healing/ – offers online support for survivors

How Do I Help a Survivor

If you are one who finds out a friend, family member, co-worker, colleague has just lost someone to suicide, the best thing you can do is extend your love and support. The best thing to say in many cases is, “I’m so sorry. I love you and you are in prayers and thoughts.” From personal experience, this meant more than anything. Just your presence brings much comfort. You don’t even have to say anything. Avoid trite condolences such as, “It was his/her time to go” or “They are in a better place.” This does not aide the pain and grief a survivor feels. Sending flowers or donating to a cause requested by the survivor means the world to us. Although it may seem trite, I remember walking into the wake and seeing a room full of beautiful flowers. These flowers not only brought beauty in the midst of a horrifically, ugly situation, they also let me know that people cared. Survivors must know that someone cares.

Losing someone to suicide is harder than any other loss.

Survivors feel anger, shock, denial, pain and grief deeper than anyone who has not experienced a loss of a loved one by suicide, even if you have lost a loved one in some other manner. I remember someone saying to me, “I know exactly how you feel. My father died last year.” I had to keep myself from saying, “The hell you do!” While I do not diminish their loss, there is something inside us that tells us that our parents won’t outlive us. It’s easier to cope. But you’re not supposed to lose your brother at the age of 28. He’s supposed to be there when your kids are born, he’s supposed to be an uncle, he’s supposed to help you when your parents ail, he’s supposed to be there to laugh about old times, he’s supposed to be there (in my case) to debate political and military strategy. He’s not supposed to complete suicide and steal all those moments away from you. My parent’s aren’t supposed to outlive their child by his own hand. The feelings of guilt, of “what could I have done” “what if” are deafening cries in a survivors mind. While this may be a feeling that others have when there is a sudden death by some other means, suicide flies in the face of the innate human instinct for self-preservation. This is why losing someone to suicide is so different than any other manner.


Do not travel this road alone. Get help. Don’t hide. There is nothing shameful and nothing to hide.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Suicide Facts and Help”

  1. Milena Says:

    I am also an opera singer and was looking for answers to vocal technique and I just happened across your blog. I was struck by reading about the loss of your brother. I am so sorry.

    I recently lost my dearest father to cancer, October 29th, 2007. I started my own blog in response to his death. If it helps you in any way to know you are not alone in grief, I’ve talked about my experiences on my blog. Whatever. I’m so sorry. I don’t imagine to know how you feel, but I know grief is a scary and horrible thing. It comes when you least expect it, it changes you forever. All I’m saying is, I don’t know you, but if talking to a complete stranger would help, don’t hesitate.

  2. Grace Says:

    I completely agree with Milena. Death (of any kind) is a horrible thing to go through. I unexpectedly lost my father six years ago and I still struggle with the sadness that follows from losing a loved one.

    You’re right Sarah, if you are struggling with the death of a loved one PLEASE seek help. Just talking about it to someone can help. I promise. Don’t feel like you have to struggle through this alone, hurt and confused. Thank you for being a voice for those that are the survivors of a suicide or other form of death.

  3. kensajolaw Says:

    I had no idea, Grace. I’m really sorry for your loss. It’s so hard.

  4. Aunt Jeane Says:

    Sarah, I never told you how sorry I was to hear about Chris. This is long overdue and for that I apologize. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Love you.

  5. kensajolaw Says:

    Thanks, Aunt Jeane. I really appreciate it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s