Monday, January 30, 2006


A friend and I have had friends and acquaintances who have committed suicide or have been suicidal. After the latest suicide of an attorney near our age, we were discussing how it could have been prevented.

Debi Cole has been a friend for many years. She was one of the first women I met when I lived in Alaska. Most people who know her casually would not expect such pragmatic suggestions--she is an artist, always reaching for the stars, a dreamer. From our friendship, I know that when there are problems, she always is very practical and attacks a problem with determination to solve it in the most sensible manner. She sent me an email with what she thought were good points for those to remember or try to understand if thinking of suicide. With her permission, I am copying it here.

1. Re-access the situation. Write a list of all problems and include everyone with whom you have problems.

2. List everyone who would be hurt by your departure, however minor you believe the impact.

3. Call the people who are number one and two on the list.

4. Honestly and somewhat politely explain how bad you really feel. You have nothing to lose, right? If they reject you for now, just take notes.

5. Plan a huge dream vacation. Use credit cards or sell something if you must. Ask if anyone can join you. If they can, great. If not, you can meet folks on the road.

6. Take the vacation. Re-assess your life.

7. Discuss your life with strangers on the road. Find solace in the fact that you are similar and not so unusually challenged emotionally to consider ending it all.

8. While on vacation, discuss, read and write about ideas to re-do issues in your life.

9. If you are still considering suicide on this vacation, rent a room somewhere nice by the week and stay on the vacation longer.

10. Put off killing yourself one day at a time. However unusual to your norm, try really hard to have some fun activities.

11. Seek new friends and new people to talk with honestly.

12. Seek new ideas for your future. Adopt a new activity that you never thought you would do like water skiing or art, dancing, or karaoke. You are with strangers and no one knows. You can start fresh. Life---try it with a new perspective.

A bonus suggestion is
13. Eat lots of comfort foods. If chocolate is your thing, get the best and savour til you feel full. Forget the pounds. Remember you WERE considering checking out.

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At 7/11/2006 1:08 PM, Anonymous Someone looking for Answwers said...

I realise you and your friend mean well but all those ideas are really really bad, for the simple reason that someone suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts is not usually going to be so outgoing or organised or driven as to do most of that stuff.

I suffer from depression and ADD and I have had several bouts of suicidal thoughts. They occur like every couple years or so. This time is the worst they have ever been. I find myself seriously contemplating it nowadays. The desire to end my life is stronger than ever.

I've been scouring the internet trying to find advice and that's how I found your blog entry. After reading it I find myself mildly upset by your "advice". You sound like someone who'd instruct a depressed person to "snap out of it". What that tells me is that you truly have no idea what it's like to have suicidal thoughts or be clinically depressed.

It's not something you control, not the way you control normal emotions. It's a disease. A person with the flu can no sooner "get over it" than a person with depression/suicidal tendencies can "snap out of it".

In fact I am fucking tired of hearing things like that.

Once again, I believe you mean well, however even with your good intentions I believe such advice would cause a great deal more harm than good.

If you gave someone who's suffering advice like that, and they couldn't pull it off, (things like writing lists or calling people or planning a dream vacation (wtf????)) it would just put them in a worse state.

What I have read, and which I know works, is simply talking about what you're going through. I don't think it works all the time, and it can be no substitute for seeking professional help, but it goes a mighty long way.

The only trouble is that it's hard finding people who won't shove their own advice or solutions down your throat and after it say dumb shit like "C'mon man. You gotta get over it. It's not healthy being depressed all the time." DUH!! You think we don't know that.

You wanna know what's good for easing suicidal urges as well. Stuff like this. Saying our piece about how we feel and not having anybody disturb us or counter us. Because it 's not. about. you.

I will admit that when a person takes their own life it affects many others, but before that it is that person who is suffering. Suffering in a manner no one can see, understand or even empathise with. Friends and family of a suicide may find solace in each other. We have no one. We suffer alone. Or perhaps we only percieve that we're alone.

Then again...perception is everything.

At 7/11/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Jeanne Rhea said...

My friend and I in no way believe that we have the answer for those who are suicidal or depressed. We do believe that there are concrete steps that one may be able to take that could help. These were only suggestions that may help someone.

I am a very caring person and although I have never really been depressed in my life, I do empathize with those who may have to live with depression.

And I agree with you---there may very well be some chemical, physical imbalance that may cause depression and I suspect that one may have to at times tackle this area before actually taking active behavorial type steps such as my friend suggested to get over depression. I am just one of those people who feels that the only way to solve a problem is to attack it, work with it, strive to find solutions whether they are making changes in lifestyle, taking medicine, going through therapy or any of the other ways people use to get over depression.

I can tell from your post that you know what you are talking about--you have been there. I have not. Please feel free to email me personally if you wish.

Thank you for writing and I hope that others see your post and I wish you the very best.


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