TWDS: Demystifying Suicide
By Jacqueline Carmody, LCPC, ATR Licensed Professional Counselor & Registered Art Therapist
<Heading> Suicidal thoughts are not something you are born with. They don’t just pop up one day, as though, suddenly, you’ve been dealt a terminal disease that must be kept a secret. Fear and confusion prevent people from bringing the topic of suicide into their conversations. The subject is treated as if it were contagious or a responsibility, when in reality it is a discussion about an idea or a thought. <Heading>
So why does the topic of suicide intimidate people? If you tell someone that you have had these thoughts, are you asking them to save you? Are you expecting a response? Alternatively, can suicide become an everyday open conversation, in which people are willing to engage and share their experiences and perspectives?
Too often, we avoid the conversation about suicidal thoughts because they are typically tied to emotional and personal experiences, highly private topics in daily society. Stigma plays a huge role in the dialogue on suicide, a mental health crisis, and mental health in general.
We can start this dialogue and shake off some of the stigma, if we focus on the thought process of suicidal ideation itself.
We can take the fear out of this dialogue by understanding the formation of these ruminating ideas. Suicidal ideations are a series of maladaptive thought processes that progress in stages, and can be addressed at any stage before the point of crisis.
Suicidal ideations are thoughts about death and dying. They can vary in their severity. It is important to understand how they form and how they develop. Just like any other thought, one with suicidal content comes into your mind and it either goes away, or it continues to grow.
So when do we start this conversation? We can begin normalizing this topic at any age. We can effectively approach the topic with adolescents as young as 10 years old, through education on mental health.
We will never be able to read someone’s mind, or adequately gauge his or her severity in suicidal thoughts. However, if we constantly equipped others and ourselves with knowledge and understanding of the topic, we could then prevent escalation of these thoughts.
<By being proactive on conversations about mental health, we create a safe environment, providing the tools to work through suicidal thoughts.>
De-mystifying suicide and approaching it in a stigma-free manner is as beneficial as discussing other mental health topics, such as body image, sexual health, and self-esteem. The key to managing your suicidal ideations is to build insight into the cause, and how it affects your personal well-being.