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“ SHARING AND HEALING ”
NOVEMBER  2018
A NEWSLETTER FOR SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS
Written & Edited by Linda & Al Vigil
     
    
 IN THIS ISSUE
Pg  1  : Grieving Notes by Linda Vigil
Pg  2  : Holidays, Suicide, Myths, and
                 Truths
Pg  4  : How Suicide Quickly Morphed Into
                 A Public Health Issue
Pg  6  : Suicide Grief and Healing
Pg  9  : White-Middle Age Suicides Spike
Pg 10 : Boy Driven to Suicide By Bullies
Pg 12 : About SOSL - NM
 
Grieving Notes
By  Linda Vigil
 
My grieving notes seems different at this time in my life, with the Holidays just around the corner. We have all dreaded the Holidays in those early days!
 
How should we have fun for Thanksgiving?
How can we even celebrate with that empty chair?
Should we even celebrate at all?
 
Then Christmas is just around the corner. Again we ask ourselves.
Should we put up decorations? Should we put up our beautiful Christmas tree, with the decorations celebrating our children and our grand-children’s lives?
 
I can say one thing for sure ...thank God for children —our grown ones and the many other children in our lives. They give us the hope of life for the future.
Yes, in those early years of our loss to suicide, the pain felt like it would never go away.  We have been writing “Sharing and Healing” for 34 years.
 
We can assure you
when we say, the pain does not last as long as it used to.
Of course there will always be that empty chair —and you will feel the pain of the loss of your loved one for the rest of your life. Eventually you find yourself celebrating
your loved ones life —not their death.
 
We find ourselves buying angels for our tree, to sit between the Santas already there. I find myself measuring my healing with my grief work. Maybe one of the most positive steps I have taken was when I was diagnosed with acute aphasia —when your words  are held hostage in your brain —making my words difficult at times. I received my Christmas gift early. I released Mia’s Journal to the internet! With much prayer and with much thought,
I released the video based on Mia’s Journal, so Mia could have her own voice,
since I cannot depend on Al and I speaking!
 
The video dialogue and its presentation come from the personal, hand-written journal, that our Mia wrote during the four months before her suicide.
 
 I pray that Mia’s words help those who need help. I know for a fact that many counselors and clinicians have used the video as a teaching and discussion guide, to help those dealing with suicide risk. I pray that Mia’s words will help someone to Choose Life.
 
Currently, November 10, 2018 the Mia video has been seen 3,660 times.
Collin Leslie, it’s producer, named it  “Letters From Mia”.

In can be seen on the Vimeo Web-Site. Click on the code below to view. 
 
https://vimeo.com/227815365?utm_source=email&;utm_medium=vimeo-
cliptranscode-201504&utm_campaign=28749
 
Or open thru  www.sharingnhealing.org
 
  In Sharing and Healing, Linda V.
 



Holidays, Suicide, Myths, and Truths
During the Holiday Season, Make a Wonderful Life
 
Since 2000, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania has been systematically tracking suicide data and coverage of suicide during the winter holiday season. In the past year, the study shows, there was an increase in stories implying that suicide increases during the winter months.
 
The problem with these types of stories? Well, they’re just not true.
 
Why does the holiday suicide myth persist in the face of evidence to the contrary?
 
It would be hard to miss how much suicide has been in the news over the past year —from celebrities, to people connected to celebrities, to generally greater, both more and better coverage of an often taboo subject. That increased coverage, and the increased awareness it may build, might be contributing to the persistence of the holiday-suicide myth.
 
Is there any truth to a seasonal suicide connection? Yes, and it might not be what you’re thinking. Suicide rates have been shown to be higher in the spring and summer months.
 
But, there is something related to suicide that’s true during the winter season: When you’ve lost a loved one, no matter how recently or how long ago, holidays can be a particularly difficult time.
 
Just as the anniversary of a death can blind-side survivors with emotions, holidays can bring up emotions that might otherwise be kept under wraps at other times of the year.
 
 What are some ideas for how survivors of suicide can make life easier during the holidays?
     
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers some good suggestions
for taking care of yourself at this time.
 
 I’ve  listed a few of the ideas below and you can find more there :
 
If you find it comforting to talk about your loved one, let your family and friends
 know that; tell them not to be afraid to mention your loved one's name.
 
Think about your family's holiday traditions. Consider whether you want to
continue them or create some new ones.
 
Above all, bear in mind that there is no "right" way to handle holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays.

You and your family may decide to try several different approaches before finding one that feels the best for you.
 
AFSP also offers stories from survivors sharing what’s worked for them to help with emotions and memories. If you are missing a loved one this holiday season, may you find comfort in your memories.

  Copyright 2012 Elana Premack Sandler, L.C.S.W., M.P.H.  She is a public social worker whose personal experience      with suicide loss adds to her professional expertise on suicide prevention and intervention.
 


 

No one ever told me that grief  felt so much like fear. - C.S. Lewis
    
   


 
How Suicide Quietly Morphed Into a Public Health Crisis
                        Ashley Smith / Statesman Journal, via Associated Press, 2018
 
The deaths of the designer Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both of whom committed suicide this week, were not simply pop culture tragedies. They were the latest markers of an intractable public health crisis that has been unfolding in slow motion for a generation.
 
Treatment for chronic depression and anxiety —often the precursors to suicide —has never been more available and more widespread. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week reported a steady, stubborn rise in the national suicide rate, up 25 percent since 1999.
 
The rates have been climbing each year across most age and ethnic groups. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 45,000 Americans killed themselves in 2016, twice the number who died by homicide.
 
After decades of research, effective prevention strategies are lacking. It remains difficult, perhaps impossible, to predict who will commit suicide, and the phenomenon is extremely difficult for researchers to study.
 
One of the few proven interventions is unacceptable to wide swaths of the American public: reduced access to guns. The CDC report found that the states where rates rose most sharply were those, like Montana and Oklahoma, where gun ownership is more common. It is predominantly men who use guns to commit suicide, and men are much less likely to seek help than women.
 
The escalating suicide rate is a profound indictment of the country’s mental health system. Most people who kill themselves have identifiable psychiatric symptoms, even if they never get an official diagnosis.
 
The rise in suicide rates has coincided over the past two decades with a vast    increase in the number of Americans given a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, and    treated with medication. The number of people taking an open-ended prescription for    an antidepressant is at a historic high. More than 15 million Americans have been on the drugs for more than five years, a rate that has more than tripled since 2000.
 
But if treatment is so helpful, why hasn’t its expansion halted or reversed suicide trends?
 
“This is the question I’ve been wrestling with: Are we somehow causing increased morbidity and mortality with our interventions?” said Dr. Thomas Inset, former director of the National Institute of  Mental Health and now president of Minestrone Health, which makes technology to monitor people with mental health problems.
 
“I don’t think so,” Dr. Inset continued. “I think the increase in demand for the services is so huge that the expansion of treatment thus far is simply insufficient to make a dent in what is a huge social change.”
 
Drug trials and other randomized studies are virtually useless for capturing measurable effects on suicide. Most drug trials explicitly exclude subjects deemed a suicide risk; even when they don’t, the studies don’t last long enough to say anything definitive about who commits suicide. But one recent study, by Danish researchers, supported the benefits of therapeutic intervention. Using detailed medical records, the investigators studied more than 5,500 people who had been treated for deliberate self-harm, including cutting and clear suicide attempts.
 
Over decades, the portion of those people who got psychotherapy at suicide clinics were about 30 percent less likely to die or commit further self-harm than those who did not.
 
“I personally think that it’s the quality of mental care that matters, not the quantity,” Dr. Inset said. “We need more access, better measures and better quality of care.”
 
But in this country, many of those who commit suicide have received little or no professional help. Indeed, they rarely tell anyone beforehand of their plan — when there is one. Often the act is impulsive.
 
According to Matthew Nock, a professor of psychology at Harvard, the wide majority of people who die by suicide “explicitly deny suicidal thoughts or intentions in their last communications before dying.”
 
Andrew Spade, Ms. Spade’s husband, said she had seemed fine when he’d talked to her just before her suicide. Mr. Bourdain was filming one of his clever, humorous shows in Strasbourg, France, when his body was discovered.
 
The rise of suicide turns a dark mirror on modern American society: its racing, fractured culture; its flimsy mental health system; and the desperation of so many individual souls, hidden behind the waves of smiling social media photos and cute emoticons. Some experts fear that suicide is simply becoming more acceptable. “It’s a hard idea to test, but it’s possible that a cultural script may be developing among some segments of our population,” said Julie Phillips, a sociologist at Rutgers.
 Prohibitions are apparently loosening in some quarters, she said. Particularly among younger people, Dr. Phillips said, “We are seeing somewhat more tolerant attitudes toward suicide.”
 
 In surveys, younger respondents are more likely than older ones “to believe we have the right to die under certain circumstances, like incurable disease, bankruptcy, or being tired of living,” she said.
 
The cultural currents that deepen despair and increase the chances of suicide have long been staples of sociological debate. The social scientists Christopher Larch and Robert Putnam identified postwar influences that have corroded the fabric of local everyday life —the block parties, church meetings, family barbecues and civic groups that once bound people against solitude and abandonment.
 
More recently, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton of Princeton have argued that the hollowing out of the economy and loss of middle and working class supports, like unions, have contributed to a broad increase in self-reported pain in those groups, both mental and physical.
 
The aggressive marketing of opioids by Purdue Pharma and others eased some of that pain —and helped create a generation of addicts, tens of thousands of whom die each year. Opioids are the third most common drugs found in the systems of suicides, after alcohol and anti-anxiety medications like Xanax, the CDC. reported.
 
A decline in marriage rates has likely played a role, as well. In her research, Dr. Phillips has found that in 2005 single middle-aged women were as much as 2.8 times more likely to kill themselves than married women, and their single male peers 3.5 times more likely than married men to do the same.
 
“In contrast to homicide, traffic safety and other public health issues, there’s no one accountable, no one whose job it is to prevent these deaths —no one who gets fired if these numbers go from 45,000 to 50,000,” Dr. Inset said.  “It’s shameful. We would never tolerate that in other areas of public health and medicine.”
 


 
 SUICIDE GRIEF & HEALING
Healing after a Loved One's Suicide
By Mayo Clinic Staff
 
A loved one's suicide can be emotionally devastating. Use healthy coping strategies —such as seeking support —to begin the journey to healing and acceptance.
 
When a loved one dies by suicide, overwhelming emotions can leave you reeling. Your grief might be heart wrenching. At the same time, you might be consumed by guilt —wondering if you could have done something to prevent your loved one's death. As you face life after a loved one's suicide, remember that you don't have to go through it alone.
 
 BRACE FOR POWERFUL EMOTIONS
 A loved one's suicide can trigger intense emotions. For example:
 
 Shock. Disbelief and emotional numbness might set in. You might think that your loved one's suicide couldn't possibly be real.

 Anger. You might be angry with your loved one for abandoning you or leaving you with a legacy of grief —or angry with yourself or others for missing clues about suicidal intentions.

 Guilt. You might replay "what if" and "if only" scenarios in your mind, blaming yourself for your loved one's death.

 Despair. You might be gripped by sadness, loneliness or helplessness. You might have a physical collapse or even consider suicide yourself.

 Confusion. Many people try to make some sense out of the death, or try to understand why their loved one took his or her life. But, you'll likely always have some unanswered questions.

 Feelings of Rejection. You might wonder why your relationship wasn't enough to keep your loved one from dying by suicide. You might continue to experience intense reactions during the weeks and months after your loved one's suicide —including nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal and loss of interest in usual activities —especially if you witnessed or discovered the suicide.
 
Dealing with Stigma. Many people have trouble discussing suicide, and might       not reach out to you. This could leave you feeling isolated or abandoned if the support you expected to receive just isn't there.
 Additionally, some religions limit the rituals available to people who've died by suicide, which could also leave you feeling alone. You might also feel deprived of some of the usual tools you depended on in the past to help you cope.
 
ADOPT HEALTHY COPING STRATEGIES
 The aftermath of a loved one's suicide can be physically and emotionally exhausting. As you work through your grief, be careful to protect your own well-being.
 
Keep in Touch. Reach out to loved ones, friends and spiritual leaders for
 comfort, understanding and healing. Surround yourself with people who are willing to listen when you need to talk, as well as those who'll simply offer a shoulder to lean on when you'd rather be silent.
 
Grieve in Your Own Way. Do what's right for you, not necessarily someone
 else. There is no single "right" way to grieve. If you find it too painful to visit your loved one's grave site or share the details of your loved one's death, wait until you're ready.
 
Be Prepared for Painful Reminders. Anniversaries, holidays and other special
 occasions can be painful reminders of your loved one's suicide. Don't chide yourself for being sad or mournful. Instead, consider changing or suspending family traditions that are too painful to continue.
 
Don't Rush Yourself. Losing someone to suicide is a tremendous blow, and
 healing must occur at its own pace. Don't be hurried by anyone else's expectations that it's been "long enough."
 
Expect Setbacks. Some days will be better than others, even years after
 the suicide —and that's OK. Healing doesn't happen in a straight line.
 
Consider a Support Group for families affected by suicide. Sharing your
 story with others who are experiencing the same type of grief might help you find a sense of purpose or strength. However, if you find going to these groups keeps you ruminating on your loved one's death, seek out other methods of support.
 
Know When to Seek Professional Help
 If you experience intense or unrelenting anguish or physical problems, ask your doctor or mental health provider for help. Seeking professional help is especially important if you think you might be depressed or you have recurring thoughts of suicide. Unresolved grief can turn into complicated grief, where painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble resuming your own life. Depending on the circumstances, you might benefit from individual or family therapy —either to get you through the worst of the crisis or to help you adjust to life after suicide. Short-term medication can be helpful in some cases, too.
 
Face the Future with a Sense of Peace
 In the aftermath of a loved one's suicide, you might feel like you can't go on or that you'll never enjoy life again. In truth, you might always wonder why it happened —and reminders might trigger painful feelings even years later. Eventually, however, the raw intensity of your
 griefmwill fade. The tragedy of the suicide won't dominate your days and nights.
 
Understanding the complicated legacy of suicide and how to cope
with palpable grief can help you find peace and healing,
while still honoring the memory of your loved one.
 


 

WHITE, MIDDLE-AGE SUICIDE IN AMERICA SKYROCKETS
          White, middle-age suicides spiked 40% in the last 10 years. WHY?

Suicide, once thought to be associated with troubled teens and the elderly, is quickly becoming an age-blind statistic. Middle aged Americans are turning to suicide in alarming numbers. The reasons include easily accessible prescription pain-killers, the mortgage crisis and most importantly the challenge of a troubled economy.
 
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims suicide rates now top the number of deaths due to automobile accidents. The suicide rate for both younger and older Americans remains virtually unchanged, however, the rate has spiked for those in middle age (35 to 64 years old) with a 28 percent increase from 1999 to 2010. The rate for whites in middle-age jumped an alarming 40 percent during the same time frame.

 According to the CDC, there were more than 38,000 suicides in 2010 making it the tenth leading cause of death in America overall (third leading cause from age 15-24).
 
 The US 2010 Final Data quantifies the US statistics for suicide by race, sex and age. Interestingly, African-American suicides have declined and are considerably lower than whites. Reasons are thought to include better coping skills when negative things occur as well as different cultural norms. With respect to taking your own life.
 
Also, Blacks, and Hispanics, tend to have stronger family support, community support and church support to carry them through these rough times.
 
While money woes definitely contribute to stress and poor mental health, it can be devastating to those already prone to depression  —and depression is indeed still the number one risk factor for suicide. A person with no hope and nowhere to go, can now easily turn to their prescription painkiller and overdose, bringing the pain, stress and worry to an end. Prescription painkillers were the third leading cause of suicide, and rising rapidly, for middle aged Americans in 2010.  Guns are still number one for actual cause of suicide.
 
Because a person attempts suicide doesn't mean they want to die. Rather, often they have lost what I call the, “power of hope”.  When faced with a bad situation that has no end in sight, coupled with the helpless feeling that nothing you can do will make a difference it’s all too easy to lose hope. At that point suicide for some becomes a viable option rather than continuing to face the constant pain and suffering that life has become. If you can give someone who is contemplating suicide merely the glimmer of hope, that is often enough to get them through the rough patch to consider other options.
 
Another possibility and cause —suicide may inspire others to view it as a way out, as well. Suicide epidemics, copycat suicides and the Weather effect (suicides that spike after a highly publicized suicide) are all in play at this point. We thought until recently that this was primarily a problem affecting other countries with different social norms (Japan) or of economies that had collapsed (Greece), but statistics don’t lie —this is an American problem and it is now huge.
 
Suicide is not a hip topic. Suicide is not something that's discussed at the water cooler. BUT, suicide is something that needs to be acknowledged and discussed. We are constantly warned, “if you see something suspicious, say something” to prevent acts of terrorism. This should hold true as well for your friend, colleague, co-worker or family member who is having a tough time.
 
 

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
      
Sometimes just a short conversation can save a life.
 



 
 BOY 'DRIVEN TO SUICIDE BY BULLIES'
                              by JAMES TONER, Daily Mail
 
A distraught mother has claimed that her 11-year-old son was driven to suicide by bullies at his school.
Thomas Thompson took an overdose of painkillers after other pupils picked on him because he was clever and well-spoken, she said.4
 
Sandra Thompson found her son in his bedroom when she returned home from work in the evening. Her partner, Geoff Clarke, tried to resuscitate the youngster while paramedics were called, but he had suffered a fatal heart attack from the overdose.
 
At the age of eleven, Thomas is believed to be the youngest child to take his own life because of alleged bullying.
 
Coming so soon after similar cases, his death will add fuel to the debate over what to do about the bullying problem.
 
Miss Thompson, a shop assistant, said her son's ordeal began at Riverside Primary School near their home in Wallasey, Warhol, Mersey side. It was thought the situation might have eased last September when he started his secondary education at Wallasey School in nearby Moreton, but the bullying continued.
 
His 33-year-old mother, who also has an eight-year-old daughter, Alexandra, said: "He told me how they got at him every day  —trying to strangle him with his tie, and poking him.
 
"It was like torture. They'd call him names like 'gay boy' and 'fatso'. He didn't really fit in with other boys his age. "He was extremely clever and loved reading and doing his schoolwork. So they teased and tormented him relentlessly  —just because he was a bit different. These bullies killed my son."
 
Thomas frequently missed classes. On the day of his death, he had got off the school bus to escape the bullies. Miss Thompson said she had spoken to Thomas's teachers, but the school claimed the only reported incident had been at a bus stop and involved children from another school.
 
Wallasey School headmaster Martin Pope said: "There is absolutely no record of the child reporting bullying within the school. We saw no evidence of Thomas being treated differently by other pupils." Describing him as an "extremely intelligent boy," he added: "The whole school has been deeply shocked and saddened by Thomas's death."
 
Warhol Council said the school's commitment to eradicating bullying is widely admired and this made Thomas's death particularly sad. But Dr Michele Elliott, director of child protection group Kidscape, said: "Thomas's death is a terrible waste of a life. At 11 years old, he should have been living a carefree life and looking forward to the summer holidays.
 
"The bullies apparently responsible for his death, and anyone who stood by and watched it happen passively, should be punished."
 
Last month 16-year-old Karl Peart took an overdose of painkillers after suffering what his family called a lifetime of bullying.
 
Two weeks later, Gemma Dimmick, a 15-year-old at the same school —Hirst High, in Ashington, Northumberland  —also committed suicide. Relatives claimed she too had been bullied.
 
Also last month, nine-year-old Jessica O'Connell's parents revealed the diary she kept of her suffering at St. Wilfred Roman Catholic School in Ripon, North Yorkshire, as she was driven to the brink of suicide by bullies.
      
   


Grief never ends ...but it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith.
It’s the price of love !
   

 

"SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS - NM"
Two (2) Meetings each Month at:
 Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church
1801 Montano Rd NW, Albuquerque
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1st & 3rd Monday of Every Month
More information at :  505 - 400 - 9942
 
Open  “Sharing and Healing Newsletter” on line at  :  www.sharingnhealing.org 
 
 

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"WHAT HAPPENED TO ITALY ?"

Adapted by Al & Linda Vigil     (from an Essay by Emily P. Kingsley)
 

We are often asked to describe the experience of having lost a loved one to suicide, by people who have not had the loss happen to them, so that they can imagine and try to understand how we feel and thus maybe help us and others.

"You are going to feel," we tell them, "that what has happened to you has never happened to anyone else like you before. The belief that these things happen to other people, certainly not people like us, will be shattered forever."

We compare it to planning a trip,  -this being the trip through life ...but you're going to Italy. You have bought and studied all of the guidebooks. You know that you will visit Rome. The Coliseum. You will see the works of Michelangelo. You will ride the gondolas in Venice. You will even take the time to learn some handy phrases in Italian. Italy is going to fill a lifelong dream.

After months of eager anticipation the travel day finally arrives. You pack your bags, check your passports, and you get on that airplane. Off you fly into blue skies. Several hours later the plane lands. The stewardess comes down the aisle and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland," you scream. "What happened to Italy? I signed up for Italy. I planned for Italy. All my life I've dreamed of Italy."

"But," she tells you, "there has been a change in plans. You have now landed in Holland and so ...here we are."

We must now convince ourselves that we haven't really been taken to a horrible, disgusting filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. A place that wasn't in our plans to ever travel to. So now you must go out and get new maps and new guidebooks. You must learn a whole new language. After some time you will meet a new group of people you would have never met before.

You will find that when you catch your breath, and you look around, you will begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has Rembrandts. Hollad has tulips. Yes, you can learn to live with the un-expected Holland.

But, you will meet people who have been to Italy.  You will probably say to yourself, for the rest of your life,  "...yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned for myself."

For you  ...things will be different. And the pain of that loss will never, ever go away, because the loss of that dream will always be a very significant loss in your life. After the suicide of a loved one ...you are Forever Changed.

The HOLIDAYS - SUICIDE MYTH By: Dan Romer (Dec. 2008)

One of the more persistent myths about the end-of-year holidays is that suicides rise during this period. According to a recently completed analysis of news reporting during last year's holiday period, there was renewed repetition of this myth in the newspaper reporting. Despite the sizeable drop that occurred during the preceding holiday period in 2006, newspapers displayed a surge in both the number and proportion of stories that supported the myth.

The analysis today by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) shows that about half of the articles written during last year's holiday season that made a direct connection to the season perpetuated the myth. That represents a statistically significant increase from previous holiday period when less than 10 percent supported the myth.

Read more...

SO WHY ASK WHY By : Tim Jackson

Survivors can't stop asking why-at least for a while. Margaret Atwood describes a survivor's incessant search for answers:

Curiosity is not our only motive: Love or grief or despair or hatred is what drives us on. We'll spy relentlessly on the dead. We'll open their letters. We'll read their journals. We'll go through their trash, hoping for a hint, a final word, and explanation, for those who have deserted us -who've left us holding the bag, which is often a good deal emptier than we'd supposed. The search for clues to help them understand propels survivors to ask, "What could they possibly have been feeling or thinking that made dying seem like the only opinion they had left?"

What Caused Them To Choose suicide?

Read more...