True Words From A Suicide Survivor

"She who leaves a trail of glitter is never forgotten"—Kate Spade.

Posted Jun 08, 2018

“In order to lead a fascinating life, one brimming with art, music, intrigue, and romance, you must surround yourself with precisely those things”

—Kate Spade

June 5, 2018, Kate Spade was found dead in her New York City Apartment after committing suicide. Survived by her 13-year-old daughter and husband, Kate Spade was a world famous fashion designer and icon; most commonly known for her color-pop handbags. Mental illness affects males and females of all ages, races, and socioeconomic classes. Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder followed closely by depression, two disorders that can be treated with medication and psychotherapy. Without treatment, mental health illnesses and substance abuse can lead to many complications, including suicide. Suicide takes thousands of lives each year and many individuals who commit suicide live with their mental health disorder in silence for a long period of time. Individuals like Kate Spade may appear happy, successful and brilliant on the outside but may be extremely broken on the inside. Living in silent torture can drive any individual to suicidal ideations, regardless of their skin color, age or financial status. 

My dear friend, Tina Cruikshank, shares her story on mental health and her personal experience as a suicide survivor:

Tina Marie, used with permission
Source: Tina Marie, used with permission

The Semicolon has come to take on special meaning in the dialogue on #suicideawareness. It is “used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life,” as explained by #ProjectSemicolon, an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide. [Art from @WeRise_LA, open through June 10.]

It is easy to feel helpless when someone you care about is in pain. I am a #suicidesurvivor who has bipolar disorder. I share the following from my experiences on both sides of the equation, as the one providing support and the one needing it.

Let me add the caveat that these are not in lieu of sharing crisis hotline info or encouraging one to get professional help. They are steps you can take alongside those efforts.

1. Learn more about the “Five Signs of Emotional Suffering” and other helpful resources at the Campaign to Change Direction

2. Do not have weighty conversations via written forms of communication. Someone having suicidal thoughts is already ruminating, so time spent over-analyzing each word isn’t healthy. Save these convos for the phone or even better, in-person if possible.

3. If someone does confide in you, listen with compassion, not judgment. Choose your words carefully. Write down conversational points in advance if that helps you feel less anxious. (I’ve been on both sides so I feel ya.)

4. Offer to go along for a walk. Invite the person over for a meal, picking him/her up if possible. Getting out of one’s normal element can offer respite from the intense swirl of negative thoughts.

5. Discuss other options to channel one’s pain when experiencing suicidal ideations. A doctor suggested that I wear a rubber band around my wrist, snapping it any time such thoughts feel overwhelming. Yep I’ve snapped my wrist raw on occasion but it’s much better than alternative methods.

Amidst all of this, first and foremost PLEASE be sure to take care of your own mental well-being. It’s easy to forget yourself in such situations. Let your support network be there for you.

Written in collaboration with Tina Cruikshank.