Suicide Prevention Month: A Handful

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

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“In the past, have you ever attempted to seriously hurt yourself?”

She means have I ever attempted suicide.

I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.

“Um, yeah. I’ve attempted,” I counted with my fingers in my lap. “…about, a handful of times.”

A handful. A neat five little fingers. I summed it all up to that.

What couldn’t fit into a handful was the nights on the cold linoleum tiles of my dorm room floor sobbing, imploding, tucking all my body parts into each other in hopes that if I became small enough, I could cease to exist.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Love Letters to Myself

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

love-letter-e1393478060868Walking back to my apartment one night, I passed by the fluorescent lighting of the local hospital. The combination of the sight of the emergency room and the sour, medicinal smell made me remember my suicide attempt in a way that was so visceral, I started shaking, feeling my lungs tighten around my ribcage and wondering when the tears would start.

I will spare the details of my attempt because for some time I hated anyone who knew what happened that night. I hated my friends for calling the EMTs. I hated my college’s crisis counselor for holding my hand in the ambulance. I hated the nurse who gave me crackers when I woke up the next morning in a hospital bed, embarrassed and terrified they would force me to leave school for the rest of the semester.

I wanted to hate myself, too, but they told me not to do that anymore.

I was able to leave the hospital the next morning and go back to school, but not without the pain of being abandoned by friends who believed I was too dramatic. This resulted in my habit of pretending nothing happened at all. The rest of the semester was shaky, filled with constant uncertainty and regular reminders that the word “survivor” now applied to my life.

But I slowly started to learn what it meant to be a person, to be alive. I began to journal. “Dear Self,” the first entry started. “You have been pissing me off a lot lately. No, really. I try to coddle you and make you feel comfortable, and you repay me in panic attacks, suicide attempts, and an inability to leave bed. This letter is your final written warning that I will not put up with your bullshit anymore.”

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Suicide Prevention Month: Reasons to Stay

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

IMG_1297I am alive.

Some days, this surprises me. I think of all that has happened in the 20.5 years of my life and am shocked to find myself still standing, still breathing, heart still beating. If you asked me a couple years ago if I would live to see 21, I would have laughed in your face. I would have said that my illnesses would probably take me before I even reached 18.

My illnesses are not physical; they are mental. That does not mean that they are any less serious, life-threatening, or difficult. It means that everyday I was fighting a battle against myself. I was at war with my own being and that was difficult on its own.

At age 17, after spending three years trying to balance my eating disorder, depression, borderline personality, anxiety, and self injury alongside of high school and being a “normal” teenager, I decided it was time to give up. I was tired of trying medication after medication. I was tired of going through so many different therapists. I was tired of fighting. I thought that it was never going to get better and that treatment was failing me. I felt hopeless. Continue Reading

Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Why Empathetic Responses are So Important

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Phew! The last 2 months finishing up my Emerging Scholars Fellowship project was a whirlwind, but I’m extremely excited by the findings.  When analyzing the interviews for my project, it was a big challenge to make sense of all the different factors related to disclosure: how many people were told, how much information was disclosed, and how disclosure changed when multiple attempts had occurred. To better understand the sequence of events, I started drawing timelines of the events.

The example below highlights one individual who experienced negative reactions from family members following an attempt; yet, her sister responded in a helpful manner. From that point forward, she felt comfortable talking about current suicidal thoughts with her sister. In other words, her sister became a confidant, and her sister helped navigate treatment when needed.

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5 Reasons You Should Know DeQuincy Lezine

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downloadDeQuincy Lezine, or “Quix” as he is often called, is one awesome human being.

There’s no other way to say it. When conducting research on suicide, his name pops up quite often, but it wasn’t until the past couple months that I’ve really learned about the great work he’s doing. Lucky for me, he agreed to be the mentor for my Emerging Scholars Fellowship project. Overall, I could list several reasons why you should know who he is, but I’ll be brief and stick with only 50. . . I’m kidding, I’ll only cover five.

(1) His book is the perfect mix of credible and personal.

DeQuincy’s book, Eight Stories Up, tells his personal story with suicide and also reviews the risk factors and treatment options for suicidal behavior. He has a talent for writing about research findings while simultaneously throwing in personal anecdotes. The result is that you feel as though you’re chatting with an old friend who cares deeply about your own experiences and well-being.

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