With two high profile deaths from suicide this week, I thought I should take a few minutes to reach out to anyone who may be reading. The deaths of celebrities aren’t uncommon (everyone dies) and many are often tragic (drug overdoes, cancer, suicide). The world is sad for a little while, but life keeps moving. This is how things will always be. To the loved ones of those celebrities, it’s not just another celebrity death, and their lives will forever be changed by drug overdoses, cancer, and especially suicide.
First, a few words about Anthony Bourdain. For the most part a celebrity death is usually a blip on the radar for me, a moment where I think “Oh, so sad”, “They had so much talent”, or “I’m not sure who that is”. This was not how I reacted yesterday afternoon when I got on Facebook for the first time. My thought process went a little like this “What?!, no, no no no. Suicide. Fuck!”
I became of aware of Anthony Bourdain when his show No Reservations began to air on the Travel Channel in 2005. I devoured every episode, wishing to travel and eat like he did. His commentary was intriguing, and I enjoyed his swearing and drinking a little too much. I read Kitchen Confidential and learned more about the pre-TV star Anthony Bourdain. I also learned I could never work in a kitchen.
His relationships with people, both friends and strangers, shine on the screen through the preparation and eating of often outlandish (to the American viewer) food. Because of Anthony Bourdain, when I traveled to India in 2008 I vowed to try every food that was put in front of me whether it looked like something I would like or not. When I returned I couldn’t believe that I had shunned so many foods in the United States and began to have the same attitude at home. This has changed my relationship with food and opened up entirely new possibilities to me. Anthony Bourdain’s suicide is more than a blip on the radar for me, and I am sure to be influenced by his writing and his television shows for years to come.
Now, lets talk a little about suicide prevention. A little over 10 months ago I woke up one morning in the midst of an anxiety attack and a major migraine. For a brief moment I thought that driving my truck off the road or utilizing our vast array of kitchen knives would be a way to solve life’s problems. After this these contemplations my brain then said “That’s not OK!”
I had a similar experience 10 years ago and contacted a friend when things finally got to be too much. This resulted in a visit to the ER, a week of hospitalization and some intensive outpatient therapy. This time I knew what to do. I texted Ryan and we headed off to the emergency department at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center where I spent the night under observation at Harding Hospital. With this intervention I was able to come out on the other side with a plan for future intensive outpatient treatment, which was extremely successful in handling a six month major depressive episode.
Not everyone has had experience with mental health crisis, and they wouldn’t even know the first step in helping themselves or a loved one who may be considering suicide. In order to really help someone who is contemplating suicide we first have to know what to look for.
Know the signs– You may be depressed and not even realize that things are escalating. I had been in bed for months, had lost interest in all of my favorite things, and was hopeless about my chronic pain.
I really was not aware how bad things were for me. If I had realized, I would have been able to take some not so drastic steps and saved myself a trip to the emergency room.
If we keep ourselves aware of the signs, and attentive to others, hopefully we will notice them when they happen. I am linking you to some Fast Facts for you to review here.
#BeThe1To– The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is conducting a social media campaign called #BeThe1To This campaign is introducing 5 easy to remember steps to prevent suicide. Ask, Keep Them Safe, Be There, Help Them Connect, and Follow Up. Each of these steps are so important, but I think that having someone help me connect to resources and then following up are two of the most important things that have helped me recover.
Tell someone– If you are having thoughts about suicide, tell someone. This could be a loved one or it could be a professional. Often one of the biggest challenges of living with depression is we feel worthless, like no one is interested in our feelings or our dreams. We often also isolate ourselves so there feels like there is no one to tell if we are contemplating suicide. You may also tell a loved one and feel that they don’t care, and that is not the case. But they might not know what to do or how to respond. Which in turn can often make you feel even worse.
That is why there are organizations devoted to hotlines and text lines. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Copy and paste that somewhere so if you need it you can find it immediately. There are countless numbers, often for specific issues such as Veterans and LGBTQ, that will help and you can find with just a Google. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline has centers all over the country. You most often get connected to someone in you area who knows the resources that will be most available to you, and that is important in a crisis.
I’m not sure that in the midst of an already anxiety inducing crisis if I would be able to make a phone call. I truly dislike the phone already and it may be hard for others to pick up and dial as well. Fortunately there is also a Crisis Text Line that will respond 24/7. You can text HOME to 741741.
I’ve never made a phone call or sent a text to a crisis hotline and the idea might be daunting. BuzzFeed has provided an article that walks you through the steps of what will happen if you call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, it may help you feel a little more comfortable in making that call.
I hope that the information and links provided in this post give you a better understanding about what to do if you or someone you know is considering suicide. If there is real danger present and you are going to hurt yourself or someone else, or a loved one is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else head to the ER or call 911.