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Yes, suicide can be stopped
Bucks County Courier Times - 7/5/2018
The deaths by suicide of two celebrities has once again brought mental illness into the national conversation. In two more weeks, the topic will be forgotten, except for grieving families who will carry their losses forever.
Suicides have soared nationwide over the last two decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Would you believe 25 percent? That's 21 per day.
The statistics are shocking.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds, according to The Suicide Prevention Lifeline. More than 9 million adults had serious thoughts of suicide within the past 12 months.
Ever heard of Rhett Miller II, lead singer of Old 97's? He attempted the deed when he was only 14 years old but reports that therapy, which he continues to this day, has saved his life. He also journals.
On Sunday, June 10, "This is My Brave" premiered at the Painted Bride Art Center in Center City.
Fourteen performers told their stories in front of a sold-out audience. Attending were members of New Directions Support Group, which I founded in 1986 when I had my first bipolar episode. We thrilled to the stories of real people who had the courage to stand up and tell their real horror stories, R-rated.
With passion, they told about the onslaughts of incest, rapes, beatings, drug and alcohol abuse.
Ed Quinn, 57, long-time member of New Directions, suffered from a lack of self-esteem ever since he was a child. Despite his outward success in many fields ? he married and raised four children - he hid his shame inside, as did most of the other survivors.
The audience cheered Quinn when he said he hasn't had a drink in two years.
"One day at a time," is the motto of Alcoholics Anonymous, which Ed attends regularly.
Angela, a member of New Directions, worried about her son Greg for years. A brilliant young man with a good job, he had made one suicide attempt and was lax about taking his medication.
As suicide experts like Tony Salvatore of Montgomery County Emergency Service know, once a person attempts suicide, the odds are high they will try again.
Sadly, Angela's 30-year-old son did take his own life. She finds comfort in attending church, taking medication herself, meeting with a psychotherapist, and going for bike rides with her partner George.
"A suicidal act is the result of a temporary state of the mind," wrote a mental health specialist in Denmark. When queried, most people who made an attempt would not have done it had they had time to reflect. Even "jumpers" who survived from plunging off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco agreed.
"It's alarming," continued the Denmark doctor, "that over half the suicides are done with guns." Families should be aware of this and not allow firearms in the homes of people with mental health problems.
Scott Sherman was riding a SEPTA train to work. "I sat next to a guy who told me he got drunk and jumped in front of a train." He asked Sherman to feel his leg. "It was plastic. A prosthetic leg."
Alcohol lowers inhibitions to kill yourself, says Tony Salvatore.
Often there are signs that a person is contemplating suicide. These include hopelessness, giving away belongings, isolation, and talking about suicide.
Yes, suicide can be stopped. People with mental health problems should be on medication and receive counseling. These are the people who have climbed through the wall of "stigma" so they can live one more day to celebrate the joys of life.
Resources include: The Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255; "This is My Brave" on YouTube and New Directions Support Group at www.newdirectionssupport.org.
Ruth Z. Deming founded New Directions in 1986, after her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She is a psychotherapist in private practice at her home in Willow Grove.Contact her at ruthdeming at comcast.net.