Friday, November 18, 2011

National Survivors of Suicide Day

By Diane Forrest, RN,

Growing up in Sunday school we learned that Judas, one of Jesus's disciples, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  Jesus was then arrested by the soldiers and eventually crucified.  Judas was so distraught by the actions he had done and hung himself.  

There are many reasons why people choose to end their lives.  The number one reason is depression.  Other mental conditions such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, personality disorders and bipolar disorders also play a part in the decision. Other factors include medical conditions, drug addiction, gambling and economic factors. The stock market crash of 1929 saw many committing suicide by jumping out of window, gun shot and even turning on gas ovens.

There have been several occasions where mass suicide has occurred.  Most recently a cult called Heaven's Gate claimed the lives of 39 people in San Diego California in 1997.  Prior to that 909 people lead by Jim Jones committed suicide widely known as Jonestown in Guyana.

I have read about and known so many people who have chosen to take their own lives who, from the outside, seem to have everything.  They come from good homes, smart, plenty of friends, everything a person could hope for.  Yet for some reason they no longer want to exist on this earth.  The people they leave behind are the ones who are left to suffer, wonder and grieve.  They are left with a stigma surrounding them, people avoiding them, not knowing what to do or say. They blame themselves for the loss of their loved one.

Today is National Survivors of Suicide Day.  The National Survivors of Suicide Day is designated by the United States Congress as a day when the friends and family of those who have committed suicide can join together for healing and consolation. This day always falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  The day is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Survivors need to know that they could grieve but they should not blame themselves for the deaths of those who committed suicide.  Suicides occur due to sickness or depression; there is little a survivor could have done to prevent the suicide.  If you know of a family where a person has committed suicide, today would be a great time to let them know you are thinking of them. And if you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). ( .National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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