Suicide Survivor Awareness Month

Suicide Survivor Day: Increasing Awareness of Suicide’s Impact on Those Left Behind

Suicide Survivor Day: Increasing Awareness of Suicide’s Impact on Those Left Behind

Losing a loved one to suicide is one of the hardest losses to bear. In addition to missing someone you loved, many survivors are left with intense feelings of guilt and may wonder, “How did I miss the signs? I should have known. I should have been able to prevent this.” On top of that, misinformed people may tell you that your loved one’s act of taking his or her own life was selfish, weak, or a misguided bid for attention. While none of that is true, unfeeling comments like that can add a huge weight of guilt to the psychological burden you are already carrying.

History of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

In 1999, Senator Harry Reid (now retired) introduced a resolution on the Senate Floor which led to the creation of the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, held each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Reid’s father shot himself in 1972 when Reid himself was 32. Reid didn’t speak much about his father’s suicide and its impact on him. When he did, he received an abundance of correspondence. He realized that suicide happens to many people, and devoted part of his career to raising awareness of suicide and improving prevention through legislation.

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, also called Survivor Day, is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). According to the AFSP’s website, survivors of suicide loss “come together to find connection, understanding, and hope through their shared experience.” The organization sponsors events and provides resources to those who have experienced a suicide loss. In 2019, the AFSP sponsored 417 events in more than 20 countries. The timing of the day, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, is intentional. Holidays can be especially difficult for those who have experienced the death of a loved one, particularly to suicide.

Magnitude of Suicide

According to the AFSP, in 2018, 132 people died by suicide each day in America or 48,344 in that year. In addition, 1.4 million Americans attempted suicide that year but survived, which means that over 4 million people each year experience the loss of a loved one or an attempt.  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the country and the second leading cause of death among Americans aged 10 through 34. Suicide also has a ripple effect; one of the risk factors for suicide is having someone close to you die by suicide or make an attempt.

How to Support a Suicide Survivor

Don’t let “not knowing what to say” stop you from reaching out to a friend who has lost a loved one to suicide. The truth is, no one knows what to say, and there really is nothing that anyone can say to make it better. It’s perfectly fine to tell the person that you don’t know what to say but that you are there for them. There are, however, there are some dos and don’ts when talking to someone who has lost somebody to suicide. 

Do not tell your friend that you know what they are going through--you probably don’t. Don’t ask detailed questions about the person’s death, but do listen to what your friend has to say. Take your cues from him or her. And don’t feel like you have to avoid talking about death. Your friend will need people willing to listen.

Refrain from offering advice or platitudes. Don’t tell the survivor that the loved one “is in a better place,” that “everything happens for a reason,” or that “God never gives you more than you can handle.” While these sentiments may be honest expressions of your beliefs or the survivor’s beliefs, they may not want to hear them. Just listen.

Do not make judgments about suicide. Do not tell the survivor that their loved one was weak, cowardly, or looking for attention. Do not blame anyone else for suicide. Ultimately, the person who took the action is responsible for his or her death. The reasons behind the action may never be fully known or understood.

Do offer help specifically. Offer to bring dinner on a certain evening, or to go to the grocery store for them or take the kids to school. If you say, “let me know if you need anything,” you are putting the burden to reach out on them. The survivor may have trouble reaching out, not wanting to be a burden, or they may honestly not know what they need.

Do be willing to talk about the person who died. You will not be reminding the survivor of what happened--the suicide and loss of their loved ones are likely all that they can think about, and they will need to talk about it. The survivor may appreciate hearing your memories of the person who died. Take your conversational cues from them.

Respect the survivor’s healing process, which will take time. It is not helpful to tell them that they need to “get over it,” or that it’s “time to move on.” There is no schedule for grief, and the survivor will never completely “get over” the loss. With time, however, the grief will lessen.

Be a support system for the long haul. The suicide survivor will need support for a long, long time. The days following a death are very busy making arrangements. Many people will call, come by, or send flowers or food. Then after the memorial service, it can get very, very quiet, and lonely. Immediately after the death, the survivor may be in shock, or emotionally numb. In a few months following the death, the full impact of the loss will begin to be felt.


If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, help is available:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-(800) 273-TALK (8255)

TTY 1-(800) 799-4889

911 (emergency response)

Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741


Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center located on the coast in the southern part of New Jersey. We are also licensed to treat the co-occurring mental health disorders that frequently accompany substance abuse disorders. Mental health disorders, like depression, often accompanies or leads to substance abuse and can lead to suicide. We offer a range of treatment options, which are tailored to the needs of each individual client. These services range from traditional talk therapy, both one-on-one and in a group setting, within the framework of the 12-Step philosophy. We also offer a number of holistic treatment modalities including art and music therapy, yoga, and chiropractic treatment. We focus on treating the whole person. If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, please call one of the numbers listed above. If you or a loved one is struggling with addictive behaviors, please call (833) 801-5483.


How is Depression Different for Men?

How is Depression Different for Men?

According to the World Health Organization, depression affects more than 264 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability. Depression is a particular concern for people with substance use disorders. One study found that  among people with major depression, 16.5 percent had an alcohol use disorder and 18 percent had a drug use disorder--more than twice the rate of those issues in the general population. For a number of reasons, including biological and social factors, depression is more common in women than in men. Women, for example, are subjected to more extreme hormonal changes, especially around menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, and women are more likely to be victims of abuse and sexual assault. All of these have been shown to increase your risk of depression.


However, a lot of men are under the mistaken impression that depression is a female problem. In reality, the difference is not huge. About 8.7 percent of women had a depressive episode in 2017 compared to about 5.3 percent of men. What’s more, many experts believe that depression is generally underreported in men, suggesting those numbers might be even closer. Part of the problem is that depression symptoms look different in men and men behave differently when depressed. Here are some ways depression is different for men.


Men Have Different Symptoms

When most people think of depression, they typically imagine something like persistent sadness, hopelessness, or sleeping all day. While those symptoms are fairly common, they are not always present. What’s more, they tend to be more common in women. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to experience depression symptoms like irritability, anger, aggression, and disturbed sleep. While some studies suggest that men and women both report irritability at roughly equal rates, men often feel like irritability is a more socially acceptable emotion to express, whereas sadness is less acceptable. 


Men are also more likely to experience physical symptoms that most people would not recognize as depression. These might include headaches, body aches, digestive problems, racing heart, or tightness in the chest. Men are actually more likely to see their doctor about physical problems than emotional ones, so a diagnosis of depression in men often starts with physical complaints for which no physical cause can be found. 


In addition to these “male-typical” symptoms, men may experience other symptoms that are frequently not recognized as depressive symptoms. These may include losing interest in things you typically enjoy, inability to concentrate, emotional numbness, lack of motivation, slow movements, feeling helpless, and thoughts of suicide or death. 


Men Are Less Likely to Get Help

As noted above, men are more likely to seek help for physical problems than for emotional problems. Men are also much less likely than women to seek help for a mental health issue, even if they have noticed symptoms. In fact, studies show that men seek help for mental health issues at only about half the rate of women. Part of this is because men experience different symptoms and may not even identify them as related to a mental health issue, as discussed above. Part of it is also that men are less willing to acknowledge or discuss emotions like sadness, hopelessness, and other depression symptoms. Men have been taught from a young age not to cry, not to complain, to take care of their own problems, and so on. This discomfort makes men less likely to acknowledge that they need help and less likely to seek it out. 


It’s important for men to realize that depression is just as much a physical condition as an emotional one. While it may be common to experience depression primarily through emotional symptoms, recent research keeps finding more connections between mental and physical health. For example, depression has been connected to physical factors like diet, inflammation, obesity, and gut health. Mental and physical health are really just two sides to the same coin.


Men Are More Likely to Self-Medicate

Another depression symptom more common to men than women is drug and alcohol use.  As with irritability and aggression, many men feel like substance use is a safer way to express and deal with depression. Culturally, men are more likely to see a stiff drink as a reasonable way to cope with emotional turmoil or relax after a hard day. In reality, drugs and alcohol are, at best, temporary solutions, which only make the problem worse in the long run. Drug and alcohol use may also be a deliberate form of self-destruction because of their deleterious health effects, as well as their tendency to increase the likelihood of impulsive behavior and accidents. For many men, drug or alcohol use may be the biggest symptom of depression hiding in plain sight.


Men Are More Likely to Die by Suicide 

One of the worst consequences of depression for men is death by suicide. Although women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and more likely to attempt suicide, men are about four times more likely to die by suicide. This is typically attributed to men’s greater impulsiveness and willingness to use more lethal means, such as a gun, as opposed to pills. 


Although men are less likely than women to suffer from major depression, men do get depressed and it’s something to take very seriously. If you’re a man struggling with drug or alcohol use, there’s a strong possibility that depression is at least part of the equation. It’s critical to find a treatment program that can treat depression concurrently with substance use issues. Without treating the depression, it’s very hard to stay sober. At Enlightened Solutions, we know that helping someone recover from a substance use disorder requires treating the whole person. Most importantly, we try to foster a sense of meaning and connection that will help our clients live joyful, sober lives. To learn more, call us at 833-801-LIVE.

MOMO Challenge Encouraging Suicide Being Exposed to Egg Harbor Schools

MOMO Challenge Encouraging Suicide Being Exposed to Egg Harbor Schools

The MOMO Challenge started in 2018 where a character named MOMO contacts you through WhatsApp and convinces you to contact that character with their cell phone. Once that happens, players are supposed to either commit self-harm or suicide or else they will be threatened with “an evil spell.” After the suicide of a 12 year-old in Indonesia, panic has struck and the challenge is said to continue spreading to the schools of more teens.

The MOMO Challenge Spreading to Schools

The MOMO Challenge that encourages teens to commit suicide is still spreading to campuses. It first started when first graders at Brick school were talking about the challenge as it was found on Facebook and WhatsApp. Children from Glassboro and Oaklyn schools have been exposed to this challenge. The South Brunswick Police Department has been warning parents about the dangers of this challenge as well as to monitor their children’s social media accounts in response to worldwide reports. The New Jersey Crisis Intervention Team is also doing their part to ask parents to read and speak to their children. School districts are saying that their students are scared at the reemergence that this game continues to have. Parents, educators, and board members need to not be afraid to talk to students about this challenge so that they are aware and informed of this game’s dangers.

What Happens in the MOMO Challenge

There are experts and charities that believe that the MOMO Challenge is nothing more than moral panic spread by adults. They believe that that there is no evidence that the game has caused harm. The way the challenge goes is that a scary doll figure with a sinister voice targets children’s websites like YouTube Kids and the figure comes on the screen during the video. The figure attempts to talk to children about committing dangerous acts including suicide. This challenge has been found on Facebook, WhatsApp, and other forms of media targeting children.

Actions Taken Against the MOMO Challenge

The South Brunswick School District will have a workshop for parents and students at the Social Media and Technology Symposium in March. This workshop will give parents and students the opportunity to learn about cyber safety and how to better navigate around social media.

Mental Health Effects of Nightmarish Media

Children can develop anxiety after watching a scary video. The part of the brain that stores emotions, the amygdala, will hold onto this memory and bring about feelings of being scared or anxious. One study, “Tales from the Screen: Enduring Fright Reactions to Scary Media,” said that one quarter of students who had fearful reactions to media in the past continued to have them years later. Children can also develop sleep disorders at the exposure of seeing scary footage as well as at night. They could be having terrifying nightmares of what they saw as well as having heart issues, weight problems, behavior problems, learning difficulties, and mental health issues.

It is also said that children that are constantly watching media violence will have a tendency to act out that violence. Their emotional response to violence or see someone hurt will decrease since these are images that they are used to seeing. They could just be seeing violence as a natural thing that happens all the time in a hostile world or are lacking empathy in victims of violence.

What Parents Should Do In Response to the MOMO Challenge

Parents should limit the screen time to about an hour a day. If there is too much freedom in what children sees, then that means there will be a chance that they can find footage on YouTube or other video streaming sites that will have disturbing footage. Find your children media that is appropriate to their age such as making sure they have children’s accounts to streaming sites like Netflix. Use parental ratings guides to teach your children what shows or movies are appropriate to their age and apply filters to their computers or televisions.

You should also let your children know about how important it is that they look at the title and description of a video before you watch it. If you know that a video has a warning about graphic and disturbing content, it is best to stay away from those. In order to have more knowledge about what your children are watching, tell your child to only use their computer in family spaces where you can see them. If your child do happen to see any violent or disturbing images, do not try to change the subject with them or tell them that they are not old enough to know. Let them know what they are seeing and why it is not for children’s eyes. Help them work through any fears and worries they may have.

What to Do If Your Child Sees Scary Images

If your child is having feelings of distress because they saw something violent or scary that they should not have seen, empathize with them. Let them know that what they saw is very scary and perfectly understandable to feel this way. Teach them to take deep breaths before they go to bed to prevent nightmares occurring and to fall asleep faster. Rationalize that what they are seeing is make believe. By being aware of the MOMO Challenge and monitoring your child’s screen time will prevent this dangerous challenge from having an effect.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Suicide is Not Life or Death; Sometimes its Just Living

Until we learn about death, we are only keen to the idea of life. At whatever age our first experience with death comes, we are usually shocked and saddened by the knowledge that eventually life will end. Different denominations of different religions around the world have specific beliefs about death and the potential for life after it. Whatever lies beyond, there is a time when our physical form and participation here on earth expires.

For some, this becomes something that cannot be unknown or forgotten. It becomes a constant reminder that there is an off-switch and a way to end what can be a painful experience of living. Suicidal (fact check the disorder and include a description) is a diagnosable condition in which one perpetually contemplates the idea of suicide. Simultaneously this does and does not make someone “suicidal”. While one might think about suicide all the time, this does not necessarily make them suicidal. At the same time, their preoccupation with the voluntary ending of their life does constitute them as suicidal.

Often when we think about someone being “suicidal” we concur up dark images of pain, depression, and desperation. As The Mighty contributor Taylor Jones points out, “I could be having the best day of my life. still, suicidal thoughts will linger. I don’t have to be in a bad mood to be suicidal. I will still have those thoughts if I’m surrounded by the people I love, or if I’m doing something I’m passionate about.” She adds, “I wake up most mornings thinking I’d be better off dead.

“People with mental illness live in dark places and gray areas. It’s not something that shuts off and on- it comes in waves, it peaks and it fades.”, Taylor describes.

Terms of Suicide

Suicidal Action

Sucidial Thought

Sucidial Ideation

Suicide Prevention Hotline

You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Myths About Suicide You Need To Understand

Suicide is a prevailing cause of death in the United States and a symptom of untreated mental illness. Detecting the threat and severity of suicide is not as easy as seeing someone crawling out of a window. Signs of suicide are being displayed by our family members, spouses, loved ones, coworkers, and people on the street everyday. The stigmatization of mental illness combined with myths about suicide cause people to be lacking in knowledge. That knowledge could help save a life. Here are some myths about suicide to consider and get informed about:

Suicide can happen at any age

Existential breakdowns are not reserved to any age group. Contemplating the end of one’s own life can happen very early. It can also happen later in life. Children as young as five years old commit intentional suicide. Elderly populations also see a striking percentage of suicides per year. What is the cause? Aside from mental illness, it is the stress of living. A child with additional outside issues to mental illness, such as trauma from abuse, might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of an entire life lying ahead of them. In contrast, an elderly person who has seen life go by might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of living life any longer.

Suicide is impulsive

Suicide is not an overreaction or a moment of awakening as can often be portrayed in film. Most of the time, suicide is carefully planned out. People who are considering suicide will tend to leave obvious hints, as well as less obvious ones. Of the obvious signs includes talking about death or openly asking others about their thoughts on suicide. When you are suspicious of suicidal ideation or intention, it is critical to ask: do you have a plan? Having a detailed plan is a sign that suicide has been thought about for many weeks.

Suicide cannot be prevented or intervened with

Suicide is not inevitable. It is, however, preventable. By learning the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation, you have the ability to confront a loved one and ask how they are doing. Asking someone about suicide will not cause someone to impulsively kill themselves. Instead, it might help them realize they need to seek professional help because their life's worth living.

If you or a loved one are struggling with Suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

For more information on the programs of treatment for addiction and mental illness at Enlightened Solutions, call 833-801-5483 today.