Crisistextline.org is a relatively new online service in the US that makes it possible for distressed people to seek help via chat, 24/7. Data aggregated from its more than 18,000 conversations per day — more than 141 million messages total since the service opened in August 2013 — also provide a staggering picture of how and when people experience such profound emotional distress that they will make contact with a stranger for support.
For those of us who believe that God and God’s church can be a source of great comfort and support, the data picture is, in itself, a source of emotional distress. It turns out that Sunday, our primary day of community celebration, is a very tough day in the world of crisis counselors. Sunday is the day of the week that the largest number of help-seekers to Crisistextline.org …
Every September, we mark Suicide Loss Survivor Day, which makes it a great time to learn from all three kinds of people who live beyond suicide.
Most of the people we call “suicide survivors” are people who lost loved ones to suicide deaths. These are the people who will be gathering this weekend. A suicide death often leaves relatives and friends not just grief-stricken but guilt-plagued. They fear they should have recognized signs and prevented the death. After my friend “Katie” hung herself, my other roommate and I weren’t even able to talk about her for maybe a decade. It was just too hard.
A second kind of “suicide survivor” is the person who manages to live beyond a suicide attempt. Kevin Hines, who survived his jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in the year 2000, is one of the better known of these. He’s focused his life since then on encouraging others to #BeHereTomorrow.
Add a Third Kind of Suicide Survivor to the Rally
A third kind of “suicide survivor” doesn’t quite fit the mix, yet has reason to be counted in this difficult company. The third kind of survivor are people who survive chronic suicidal thinking. We are the people who survive our suicidal thoughts many times a year, many times a week … some of us many times a day. And still we choose to keep moving forward.
Actor Wentworth Miller, who you may know from Prison Break or Legends of Tomorrow, self-comforted with food during a bleak period of suicidality … and people made fun of his weight gain. Read about his survivor mindset on CNN.
Ironically, you can read in Maxim that many men mimic Wentworth Miller’s lean on-screen look by using a new category of unapproved drugs with unknown long-term effects … suggesting that we may be risking a new way to “die young and beautiful.”
This post deals with topics that some may find triggering. If you are currently struggling with the desire to end your life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741 (US). Compassionate people will help you rediscover your possibilities. Hugs and God’s love to you!
As I write, “the winter that wasn’t” has slapped coastal Maine with what we hope is its last dose of ice and hazardous travel. Good Friday’s freezing morning mist coated even sand particles, making my unpaved driveway a slippery, treacherous mess. In the afternoon, a freezing rain frosted the pine needles and slicked roads. By Saturday, it had bent trees and broken branches.
Still, this ice landed on New England streets and yards almost entirely clear of snow after the extraordinarily warm “winter that wasn’t.” A thicket of crocuses is already blooming in my front yard. Budding daffodils are 4 inches high. Tightly furled tulip leaves have begun to push through the soil.
Most of the spring bulbs in this yard were planted more than three decades ago, when I began to create my little legacy in flowers.
Until then, I had spent dark years through my teens and early adulthood. I cried so much of my adolescence that I propped a favorite stuffed toy at one end of my bed and designated that area “my crying corner.” Throughout my days and nights, I heard a voice tell me over and over, “You shit. You schmuck. You fuck up. You fuck everything up. You can’t do anything right.”
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide … by Kate Bornstein
… is the subtitle of my so-far favorite book on suicide prevention.
Author Kate Bornstein, a transgender performance artist, has assembled largely from personal experience an entertaining and fundamentally useful collection of “things to do today instead of killing myself.”
Bornstein invests the first 80 pages of the book in gender identity politics, which may or may not interest a particular reader. The remaining 160 pages are a brilliant compendium of 101 things a person could do today instead of dying. Continue reading →