Suffering in Silence

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5 ways to discuss suicide, recognize the signs of suicide & cope with the loss of someone to suicide

“When those you love die, the best you can do is honor their spirit for as long as you live. You make a commitment that you’re going to take whatever lesson that person was trying to teach you, and you make it true in your own life. It’s a positive way to keep their spirit alive in the world, by keeping it alive in yourself.” ~Patrick Swayze

It is unfortunate and mind boggling that anyone has to die, but there is a mysterious void surrounding suicide-for both the person and their loved ones (or fans). So when learning of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I decided to speak about the dreaded topic: suicide.

As a crisis therapist, I pre-screen suicidal adult patients prior to the psychiatrist’s evaluation and I provide 24/7 crisis assessments and diagnoses for suicidal youth to determine their need for psychiatric hospitalization. However, the topic of suicidality is not easily understood nor is it comfortable to discuss with clients and their families. The conversation on suicidality is often steeped in long-held beliefs about death and dying including death-related fears, avoidance of conversations on death and/or spiritual beliefs regarding suicidality and what happens after death (post-death).  

Although this is not my first experience with suicidality, two friends committed suicide in my adulthood. I too wondered why this occurred and what if anything I (or anyone) could have done to prevent it. I am still exploring this-and still have not arrived at a reasonable response. Some phenomena such as death and suicidality will never be fully understood.

Here are 5 ways to discuss suicide, recognize the signs of suicide & cope with the loss of someone to suicide:

  1. Visit https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/riding-the-waves-of-the-teen-years/discussing-suicide/ to discover “8 Ways to Discuss Suicide with your Teen” orwww.wellandgood.com/good-advice/how-talk-about-suicide/ “A Psychiatrist Shares How to Talk About Suicide”.   
  2.  Visit https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/how-to-recognize-when-someone-is-at-risk-for-suicide/ar-AAyoxfk “How to Recognize When Someone is At-Risk for Suicide” or www.nami.org/crisisguide “Navigating A Mental Health Crisis”
  1. Create mementos or keepsakes to keep your loved one’s memory alive (picture book, journal, trinkets/heirlooms, voice/video recordings, etc.).
  1. Consult your primary care doctor. Meet with a mental health therapist or join a grief support group.
  1. Bibliotherapy– Read books on grief and coping such as : Grief One Day at a Time:365 Meditations to help you heal after loss by Alan D. Wolfet, Ph.D.

 *Call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1800-273 -TALK or in Spanish 1888-628-9454

Dr. Ngonzi Truth Crushshon, Psy.D. is a license-eligible clinical psychologist, professor, and best-selling author. She has written for the Huffington Post and various local magazines on mental health and self-care. www.faithhopelovecommunity.com