Suicide Prevention – Constant Vigilance and Ongoing Education
Please note: before publishing this I discussed the post with my husband to make sure he was okay/comfortable with me talking about his struggle with suicidal thinking. His response was positive.
As the constant advocate, he feels it will be therapeutic for me as well helpful to others to talk about this difficult topic. The issues of suicide and caregiving, and loving and living with a suicidal partner can be very distressing to say the least. Together, caregivers, partners, family and friends can help each other press on…choose life!
Suicidal Behavior Watch Signs
My heart and thoughts go out to all the people who have lost a loved one to suicide! Whenever someone in the public eye dies unexpectedly of apparent suicide (like O. J. Murdock and others), it opens up difficult dialogue. As a Caregiver and partner, this is one aspect of my husband’s illness that is very scarey! It just reminds me of the need for constant vigilance and on-going education.
My husband has been a mental health advocate for many years now. His advocacy started in Sarasota, Florida after suffering a major Bipolar episode leading to a suicide attempt and then hospitalization. He has talked about it many times, yet it still scares me.
I love my husband, but only recently — in the past few years — have I started to better understand his suicide attempts and the suicide ideation as symptoms of his illness. It’s not some personal weakness or lack of courage in dealing with life. The fact is that during our 20 years of marriage, he has been one the most courageous men I know! He has faced many adversities; far more than he has ever written about.
If you follow his blog, Mentalhealthumor.com, you can pick up on some of his trials in many of the cartoons he draws. Despite it all, Chato Stewart always tries to look for humor to cope with his issues!
How does your loved one cope with his/her issues?! Does humor, art, journaling, or support groups help your loved one? Do you find certain symptoms like suicide ideation scarey? Do you talk in-depth with your partner about suicide symptoms? Keeping communication open is critical to preserving life!
When my hubby is Depressed or Manic, his low self-esteem and self-loathing, negative talk escalates and his favorite topic becomes death or even suicide. Its cause is due to a chemical imbalance, and what’s happening inside his head is what’s driving the suicidal behavior and self-destructive state of mind.
There’s usually a trigger that sets him down a negative path of self-loathing. Because I have more experience now, I’m much better at recognizing some triggers and the difference between a passing death fantasy / dangerous suicidal ideation and when it’s time to get him help ASAP! I’m no expert, but I try to stay alert and aware and educated as best I can. Knowing him and his various moods helps.
But when I read or hear about others…young men or women, famous or not, committing suicide in the news, it scares me. That is why the NFL’s O.J. Murdock’s apparent suicide triggers me as a Caregiver.
Moods can change very rapidly. You may think your loved one is fine one minute, but they may not be the next! My hubby presents pretty well and is high-functioning, and I feel he tries to shield me from the dark side as much as possible. However, suicidal partners don’t fully realize all the anxiety, distress, worry and fear they may cause us healthy partners because of this terrible symptom.
Sadly, in their mind, they may think they are trying to do us a favor by releasing us from caring for them by committing suicide. (That’s how my husband views it.) It’s totally absurd, twisted thinking; distorted by their illnesses. In other words, IT’S NOT THEM, the “real” person thinking/speaking! It is the symptoms/illness of their unbalanced mind, thinking, talking, or acting…
To you partners living with mental disorders and suicidal ideations: PLEASE know: “WE” (your caregivers, family and friends) LOVE YOU and NEED YOU! Our lives will NOT be better off without you! PLEASE, please, PLEASE don’t leave us, we can and will find the light at the end of the tunnel together.
I found the following wise verse uplifting (hope you do too), because it highlights the good results of a team working together and avoiding isolation. We all need support when we fall:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their hard work. For if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just the one who falls when there is not another to raise him up?”
To anyone reading this who is facing a dark, long night, or who feels like they have tripped or fallen…We won’t give up on you, ever!! The sun always comes up. We will stay up all night and wait for the sun to rise…Keep Watching!The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” Song: http://youtu.be/zVxq8KM-0-A
If your partner is like my husband, who has dealt with daily and sometimes hourly suicidal ideation with multiple suicide attempts, it can be difficult to distinguish between the ideation (“blowing off steam”) and the need for immediate action or intervention. Please learn and study these important signs and don’t be afraid to ask your loved one if they are suicidal…Please, be vigilant as Caregiver: you can save a precious life!!
- Withdrawal and isolation from family and peers
- Use of alcohol and drugs
- Decline in school/work performance
- Increased irritability
- Dramatic change in dress, activities or friends
- Giving away of possessions
- Discussion of suicide
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Chronic medical illness
- Loss of physical function
Please click here: “The Warning Signs of Partner Suicide“.photo credits: Photo1: Stuck in Customs
Photo2: Monja · con · patines
Winifred, J. (2012). Suicide Prevention – Constant Vigilance and Ongoing Education. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 8, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/wellness/2012/08/suicide-prevention-constant-vigilance-and-on-going-education/