Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
I find it stunning now that even after her previous attempts, I never sat down with her and went over the risk factors and discussed how some of the behavior I would see in her could indicate that she was highly at risk for attempting suicide again.
I never discussed a plan that could help her, me, or the rest of her family and friends during a time when she might be in crisis.
We didn't have a plan in place.
I don't think we would have had the tools to develop such a plan.
I assumed Julie would always call me, or she would call her sister Amy if she were in crisis.
I assumed we would get her help right away.
I had never even heard the term "completed suicide" before Julie took her life.
That term alone would have terrified me because that would have meant that any attempt had the potential to be
That would have meant that my worst fear could have actually happened.
I thought I could deal with her attempts and threats.
I thought I would always have a way to reach her.
I never thought she wouldn't give me the opportunity to reach her.
I never believed that my worst fear would actually happen.
A lifetime ago,
a decade plus one year ago,
during September of 2005,
my daughters Amy and Julie ran a marathon.
Julie was the driving force when it came to running.
She plotted out the training schedule.
She had more experience in running a race.
She knew how to pace herself.
She and Amy called this experience, the plan for, the preparation for, and the running of the race,
"Oxygen Depravation and Other Fun Times with My Sister."
That was actually the title of the book they wanted write about the fun times they had as sisters.
As they ran, they wrote chapters in their minds and shared how the chapter would read.
Oh how I wish they would have written down those stories.
Amy and Julie were born just twenty-three months apart.
They were as close as any two sister could ever be from their earliest days.
It now belongs to Amy.
I just wish that the story of the sisterhood would never have to include a chapter on suicide.
To say our hearts and lives were shattered when Julie took her life would never fully convey how suicide robbed our family not only of time with our Jules, our lynchpin, our dearly treasured family member, but saying these words could also never convey how suicide robbed us of
our dreams for a future that had Julie in it,
Suicide robbed us from
a legacy that did not include a family history of suicide.
On that day in 2010 when Julie took her life, a dark black line was drawn down the middle of the timeline of my life.
A lifetime ago,
Team 808 for Jules was formed in 2010.
Julie's friend Leanna, a dear friend from high school, was the one who organized Team 808 and got us all involved in taking part in this important walk that raises money to go towards suicide prevention.
To this day, I am blessed to know that each year at least one member from this original team will participate in a Suicide Prevention Run/Walk.
This year, my daughter Keicha raised nearly $1000 for the walk held in Salt Lake City.
She does this walk each year in memory of her sister.
She didn't want to be different from others. She didn't what this diagnosis attached to her. I'm not sure she ever fully accepted her illness. I don't know if she ever fully accepted that her illness was just that: an illness.
- Removing the means of taking one's life is the most reasonable approach to take when a loved one is aware of another's struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Remove the access to guns. Please do that. A person struggling with these thoughts should not have access to guns. Period. It is not possible to removed all those items that one could use to end a life, but at least be aware of what means that person might use. Ask them if they have a plan. Act accordingly.
- Asking if you can help call a therapist rather than asking if you can call a therapist is a good plan. In my opinion, this helps the loved one think of a different plan or approach they can take rather than you taking the approach for them. You might not be given this chance, but if you are, I like this approach.
- Ask those hard questions. I have had to do this. It is not easy to do, but the questions must be asked. "Are you thinking of hurting yourself or taking your life?" "How will you take your life? Do you have a plan? What is it?" Believe me. You would rather hear the answers to these questions so you can act accordingly, than to not ask the questions and find that your loved one has taken his or her life.
- One person speaking at a time with a loved one in distress is best. It is calming. There are not contradictory statements being made. The loved one can focus better.
- Ask what you can do to help.
- Stay calm. The world may be threatening to crumble, you may want to vomit or pass out, your blood pressure may soar, and your heart is probably racing, but try to stay calm or at least appear calm. Don't argue. Don't threaten. Don't pace.
- Provide safety and support.
- Reach out for others to help.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Step 1 - Warning Signs
- Step 2 - Internal Coping Strategies
- Step 3 - Social Supports and Social Settings
- Step 4 - Family and Friends for Crisis Help
- Step 5 - Professionals and Agencies
- Step 6 - Making the Environment Safe
You might wish to ask your loved one if you can have the names and number of those they are seeing for treatment of mental illness. If they wish for you to have these numbers, you can list them on this app.
|Julie passes her sister Amy at the finish line.|