Since September is Suicide Awareness Month, Amy Brown and her ex-therapist Kathryn DeFatta spend this episode of 4 Things With Amy Brown focusing primarily on the issue of suicide and what resources we can turn to for help. They also discuss how helpful something as simple as a stress ball can be, and pretending to be fine when we really aren’t. Usually, when we’re asked how we are, we don’t get into the real answer; we simply say, “I’m fine!” and move on. Of course this is okay if it’s a throwaway pleasantry between coworkers in the hallway, but it’s a different story when we’re talking to people who can help us feel better. Kathryn says the time, the place, and the phrasing of “how are you” can welcome a whole different conversation. And it’s just as important to ask ourselves that question, too, really checking in at least once a day to determine how we’re feeling, what’s bothering us, to notice if something’s a little off. If we’re too caught up in our moment-to-moment schedules, we can miss bright red flags that could spell trouble down the road.
While there’s an incredible social stigma attached to suicide, it’s important to talk about it, because it’s the leading cause of death for people ages 15-29 in the U.S. Globally, someone dies from suicide every 40 seconds; in America, it’s every 11 minutes. And for every successful suicide, Kathryn says, there are 25 attempts. So there are a lot of people out there hurting. One important thing to look out for, in ourselves and others, is suicidal ideation. Ideation means we’re thinking things like, “I wish I just wouldn’t wake up tomorrow morning,” or imagining something happening that kills us so we don’t have to deal with whatever is bothering us anymore. If you do have ideation, it can be a good sign to check in with yourself and find out why death seems like such a welcome reprieve.
We used to call death by suicide “committing suicide,” but now, we’re treating it more like what it is: An illness. “Nobody says somebody ‘committed cancer’ because people don’t choose cancer,” Kathryn points out, but suicide isn’t really a choice, either. It simply feels like the only option for someone who is in pain. Fortunately, there are lots of resources to turn to for help. They share hotlines, texting lines, and websites, of course, but Kathryn also urges us to seek therapy. Even if our insurance doesn’t cover it, nearly every therapist has time on their calendar for people who can’t afford their normal rate, so they can see you for free or for a steep discount. The vast majority of people who get help get healthy, she says. And you’re worth it. Hear more of this important mental health conversation on 4 Things With Amy Brown.
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