Grief and Suicide Prevention Month

"Take in the bad weather and the good weather. You are not the storm." Matt Haig

Posted Sep 29, 2020

Tim Green/Flickr
Grief and Suicide Prevention Month
Source: Tim Green/Flickr

There are a few days left in the month of September, a month known as Suicide Prevention Month. It is a month to speak about, learn about, and honor the pain of those who face the mental health dilemma of wanting to end the emotional pain. It's not a desire to end life, but rather a desire to end the incessant pain, the voices within the soul, crying to get relief. The pandemic has psychological effects that will be misunderstood and unknown until time passes for medicine and psychology to gather essential data. Suicide is hard enough to understand in the best of circumstances. With resources for mental health waning in this time of quarantine and isolation, mood and substance use are associated, now more than ever, with COVID-19. Grief and loss continue to go unseen and untreated. 

Social isolation,
fear of contagion,
chronic stress,
job loss. 

Grief is all over the place. It's showing up within intimate relationships, the loss of loved ones who you could not see or say bye to, and in the dark corners of emotions that rise and fall in unpredictable ways. Yes, it's grief. It feels like anxiety, like depression, like I have no one who cares, like I am alone—grief does not turn into suicidal thinking—yet once the thought is there, it feels like relief... like I've got an answer to end the pain.

NOTICE when someone close to you is more distant than usual.

LISTEN to their words, their lack of words, their silences, their hopelessness.

SEE if they are giving things away, losing weight, aren't sleeping, seem lethargic—different then the way they usually appear.

ASK to see them, go for a safe walk, masked, send them some food, be curious about their day. Keep in close touch with them. Even if they get annoyed.  

DON'T BE AFRAID to get help. Call hotlines, call their family members, or if you are family, discuss what you are all seeing and get professional intervention. They may be angry with you initially, but the help you get for them now can help them live a better life. You cannot be the savior, because the mind of someone suicidal is very powerful and stubborn. 

Marco Giumelli/Flikr
Source: Marco Giumelli/Flikr

Where is the Unexpected Ally here? Being present for someone when they are in pain. Having a voice even when told to ignore what you see and feel. And trusting what you notice, what you hear, what you see and what you fear.