If You’re Having Suicidal Thoughts, Please Read This

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Nikki Zarrella

I’ve now known, and I mean genuinely knew in person, spoke with, or was friends with, four people who have committed suicide. Attending those funerals, seeing all of the people who truly loved and cared for that person… How could they leave all of these people behind? I thought to myself. Even though, deep down, I knew how. Because I’ve been on both ends of this. I know how you can contemplate it, I know how the thought can cross your mind when you feel like you’ve been pushed so far, you’ve been hurt so much, suffered for so long. I have mourned for those individuals who have committed suicide, but I have also had dark moments when those thoughts have seeped into my mind too.

But why? Many people may wonder. Why would the thought of taking your own life ever cross your mind? Well, there are a million reasons why. And it could include anything from life trauma, to chemical imbalances in the brain, to overpowering stress, anxiety, or depression, or just trying to live in a world where you constantly feel like you don’t belong or like you’re always being knocked down. Or sometimes. We just don’t know why we feel the way we do, and we may never know.

In this life, people can be viciously cruel and extremely selfish. Even sometimes the people we love most can hurt us more than anything, or can let us down over and over again. People will hurt others without thinking about the repercussions of their actions, or even stopping to reflect on how they may have impacted another person in a negative, toxic way. Or sometimes, the pain is not caused by anyone else at all. Sometimes, we just feel alone. Like no one could ever possibly imagine or understand what’s going on inside our heads because we don’t even understand it. We feel crazy, dissociated from the world like a lost soul wandering deserted streets.

Suicide does not discriminate. Look at some of the most famous role models, the individuals who were idolized by millions of people, but it still wasn’t enough to keep them here. It wasn’t enough to fight off the demons or suppress the harmful thoughts. Kurt CobainChris CornellChester Bennington…the list goes on. I recently went to a Disturbed concert where lead singer David Draiman took the time to talk to us about suicide awareness and the “demons all of us are fighting,” each and every day. He told us that we must all be advocates not only for ourselves, but for those who are struggling mentally.

“Intervene. Be an advocate. Don’t wait until you’re at their funerals standing in front of their casket”

David urged. Friends, family, whomever that person is who is coming to you, reaching out to you at their darkest hour, be an advocate for them. Help them. In any way you possibly can. Suicide is never ever the answer, it is not a solution, eliminate it as an option. It is something that is permanent. There is no going back, no rewinding time. It is something that inflicts pain upon those who love you…even if you don’t always feel their love, it’s there. I promise. And you leaving this world will only hurt them, more than a thousand knives through the heart, more than you could ever imagine. You would leave a void in their lives that could never be filled. You will be gone, and you will be leaving them behind to hurt, to mourn, and to try and live an impossibly normal life afterwards.

The world we live in right now is all kinds of messed up. Men are taught to be strong, women are often seen as fragile, but everyone has demons, burdens to carry, weight on their shoulders. Everyone feels pain. We just all handle those demons and burdens in different ways. Distorted self-image, body shaming, bullying, traumatic events, the internal and external scars many of us carry with us…it is not an easy time to be navigating through this crazy world. But no matter what, you always have to remember that you are not alone. You have the power to change your life for the better. Regardless of how shitty other people can be or how heavy that weight on your shoulders may feel at times, the power is within you and the choices you make to change things, get the help you need and deserve, and to make a life for yourself.

It won’t be easy, and there will be days when it’s overwhelmingly difficult. There will be days much darker than others, but that means there will be brighter days too. I still have days where I feel like I’m drowning. Like every time I come up for air it is only to be knocked down again by a crashing wave. But in that darkness, in that web of anxiety, fear, and pain I often find myself tangled in, I remind myself of the people who love me. I remind myself of the years I have not yet lived. The places I want to travel to. The parts of the world I have not seen. My future filled with mystery, excitement, hopes, and dreams. The endless possibilities of where I could go, who I could meet, who I could become, what I could accomplish.

Life is a long and winding road, but you must stay strong. Don’t ever give up on yourself. There are millions of people out there who are struggling, who fight every single day to put on a brave face, even when deep down inside they feel broken, like they’re falling apart and are unable to keep picking up the pieces. But they keep on fighting because it’s worth it. Life is worth it. It will bring joyous moments, unforgettable memories…often at times when you least expect it. It is worth it to be here for the people you love, and who love you more than you know. You just need to hold on for the ride and stick around to witness all that will come, all that’s in store for you.

But in the meantime, go to therapy – any kind, don’t stop looking until you find one that works for you. There are endless amounts of options out there today. There are so many ways to find guidance, support, and someone who will truly listen and want to help you. Talk about your feelings, find a support group, look into appropriate medicines if you need to, confide in friends and family, begin a healthy hobby, adopt a pet, join a club, listen to music that soothes your soul, start traveling the world, focus on yourself. Do whatever it takes. Just don’t leave this earth. Do not shatter someone else’s world by leaving your own behind. Someone out there needs you, someone out there loves you. Live your life and stay alive to see your future come to fruition. And remember, there’s always a reason to keep on fighting for your life. Just don’t ever give up on yourself. Keep fighting. Keep staying strong. And keep living.

India’s Suicide Capital: Sikkim

See Author Article Here
By Diwash Gahatraj

Despite a booming economy, Sikkim has the highest suicide rate among all Indian states, second only to the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Gangtok: For Sukhrani Limbu of Sordung village, about 120 km from Gangtok, 29 May 2016, was just another usual day at work. But upon her return home, she found her eldest son, 30-year-old Aitey Singh Limbu, hanging from the ventilation shaft in his room.

Life somehow went on for the grieving mother. But then came 29 May 2018, when her third son, 27-year-old Aitey Hang Limbu, hanged himself from the same ventilation shaft in the same room.

“There was no suicide note, no signs of sickness… I am still clueless about what triggered their suicides,” Sukhrani says, fighting back the tears.

Sukhrani is not the only mother or family member in Sikkim who’s searching for answers. A National Crime Records Bureau study reported that the landlocked Himalayan state witnessed 241 suicides in 2015, 2.1 per cent of all the suicides in India that year.

But in terms of suicide rate in the last decade, Sikkim has the highest (37.5) among all states, and the second highest in the country after the Union Territory of Puducherry (43.2). Suicide rate is the number of suicides per one lakh population. According to the 2011 Census, Sikkim’s population was 610,577.

The West district, where Sukhrani lives, is Sikkim’s worst-affected region. Between 2008 and 2018, 278 cases of suicide were reported here.

Underbelly of the ‘golden state’

Sikkim joined the Indian republic in 1975, and has gradually become the poster child for development and a booming economy. Between 2004-05 and 2011-12, the state witnessed the highest net state domestic product in the country, and was the third richest state in India according to the 2015-16 Economic Survey.

In September 2018, Sikkim got its first airport at Pakyong near Gangtok, and in October, it was awarded by the United Nations for becoming the first state in the world to become 100 per cent organic. Literacy and cleanliness are high, and it’s often referred to as a ‘golden state’.

Yet, it has a sordid underbelly, which is manifesting itself in suicides and the questionable mental health condition of its residents. Regardless of age, gender, rural-urban divide, economic or health status, suicide looms everywhere.


Also read: What the history of foreign invasions tell us about suicides across India


A number of factors

“It would be very difficult, and even unfair, to pinpoint a particular reason for why Sikkimese people are turning suicidal. There are several factors: A long history of alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, high aspirations, ignorance of mental health illnesses and changing family structures,” said Yumnam Suryajeevan, assistant professor of sociology at the Sikkim Manipal University.

Social worker Dr Satyadeep Chhetri adds three more factors — lack of socialisation, loneliness and high rates of adultery.

“Around 70 per cent of people who have committed suicide were loners — either they were separated couples, aged people living away from their children, or kids from broken families. There is no study to connect suicide with adultery or other factors, but many people have committed suicide due to marital discord,” Chettri said.

A case in point is that of a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide on 26 June 2017 because she longed for parental love.

The seventh grader from Timberbung village in West Sikkim used to live with her old grandparents after her parents drifted apart and started living with their respective lovers, said an investigating officer from Soreng police station.

Drugs and alcohol

Many Sikkimese youth are high on pharmaceutical drugs like Nitrosun 10mg, Spasmo Proxyvon (SP) and cough syrups like Corex and Phensedyl, which are smuggled into the state from the neighbouring Siliguri in West Bengal.

“Drug users are very vulnerable to suicide,” said Prashant Sharma, member of the Sikkim Drug User Forum.

Former drug user Robin Rai recalls trying to kill himself during one of his weak moments nine years ago. Rai, who works as a counsellor at a suicide helpline centre in Gangtok, said he gets numerous calls from drug users with suicidal tendencies.

The state’s climate, geographical location, and the easy availability of alcohol has made it vulnerable to alcohol abuse as well.

Sikkim’s history with alcohol dates back to 1954, when Sikkim Distilleries was set up in Rangpo to ensure quality liquor for its citizens at a reasonable price. The then Chogyal (king) agreed to give the company absolute monopoly for the manufacture of alcohol, on the condition that the government was given 47 per cent of its shares. The state earns considerable revenue every year from alcohol sales — in 2013-14, the figure stood at Rs 120.64 crore.

K.C. Nima, a public health activist, shared the story of Suresh (name changed), a 40-year-old chronic alcoholic who had attempted suicide twice.

“The Sikkim High Court had to order the state to provide rehabilitation for him. There are many such cases,” Nima said.

Charvi Jain, a Kolkata-based psychotherapist, said that dysfunctional families, loneliness and drug and alcohol abuse are all interconnected. “It can be a deadly cocktail for suicide,” she said.


Also read: Suicides high among married women: Crisis in Indian marriages or mental health stigma?


Unemployment

According to a report by the Labour Bureau of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, Sikkim has the second highest unemployment rate in India.

Prawesh Lama, guitarist for the popular local band Tribal Rain, said the rush for government jobs had something to do with it.

“The problem of educated unemployed youth is high here. Sikkimese youth focus only on government jobs. But such jobs are for just a few who have the ‘right’ contacts,” Lama said.

“People are not willing to compete in the private sector. In this struggle to grab a government job, many youth get frustrated-some fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse, while a few even lose the urge to live.”

Cultural stigma of mental illness

Historically, the rulers of Sikkim have had no record of suicidal deaths. However, according to local tribal myth, adultery in a past life could lead to unnatural deaths, said L. Khamdak, professor of Limbu cultural studies at Namchi Government College in South Sikkim.

Tshering Tamang, a shaman based in Pelling, West Sikkim, added: “Every person has a predestined time to live. If someone kills themselves before time, their soul turns into Sian (evil spirit).This Sian can take lives of other people known to him or her in the similar way. More suicides will take place till the spirit completes its life-circle.”

In Sikkimese religious practices, mental health is often misunderstood. People with serious mental health illness approach religious gurus and shamans rather than coming to a doctor, said a psychiatrist based in Geyzing, West Sikkim, who did not wish to be named.

What has the administration done?

Other than an unpublished study conducted by Sikkim University, the state government has done very little research on the issue. ThePrint repeatedly tried to contact state health minister Arjun Ghatani, health secretary Vishal Chauhan and other senior officials, and emailed them questionnaires on the issue. But the only official response was an email from the health department, acknowledging receipt and saying it would take time to reply to the questions, “as this is a government procedure”.

However, that’s not to say there haven’t been efforts to curb suicides. A senior health department officer said on the condition of anonymity that the state was trying its best to combat the growing problem.

“The Sikkim Mental Health programme is operational since 2011, and we are conducting many awareness campaigns across the state,” the officer said.

In 2015, a state-funded 24×7 suicide helpline centre (03592-2021111, 18003453225) equipped with trained counsellors was started from the psychiatric department of the Sir Thodup Namgyal Memorial Hospital in Gangtok. However, the centre has received just 182 genuine calls so far, because hardly anyone seems aware of it. There were no advertisements for this number in Gangtok or West Sikkim, and helpline head Dr Jigmee K. Topgay said the reason was a lack of funding for promotion.

Hardly any local psychiatrists or health department officials were willing to speak on record when contacted for this report, because when a few of them spoke to a national daily on this issue, they were transferred from Gangtok to far-flung regions of the state.

One exception was Dr Satish Rasaily, a psychiatrist who has worked closely in the past with the government on suicide awareness programmes.

“The state has done several suicide prevention campaigns in Gangtok,” he said.

But outside the state capital, the track record of awareness programmes gets a bit murky. On the one hand, health department officials claim they conduct regular camps, as do local government officials like Hemant Limbu, vice-president of the Darap village near Pelling.

“We have a conducted a community level awareness programme where doctors, psychiatrists and suicide counsellors from Gangtok visited our area on the occasion of World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2018,” Limbu said.

But on the other hand, people in many other villages in West Sikkim said such camps were a rarity.


Also read: One in every 3 women who commit suicide globally is an Indian


How to fix this problem

Parul Agarwal, a Siliguri-based counsellor and psychotherapist suggested that the Sikkim government should work on spreading awareness about mental health.

“Forming a team of well-trained counsellors and psychiatrists who can work at the grassroots level can be a good start. Regular workshops, seminars in schools and colleges and a compulsory HR policy on mental health awareness at workplaces can be helpful,” she said.

Among all the religious groups in the state, incidents of suicide are least among the Christian community, and that’s because of a conscious effort that others could emulate, said Father Moni Clement Lepcha of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Geyzing.

“We regularly hold conversation with our parish members. When we talk about our problems, it helps a lot in venting out,” he said.

Social worker Chhetri added: “We have to tap the emotional quotient of Sikkim’s citizens. We have to tackle this situation as a society. We need to be more open to talk to each other, create occasions to meet and socialise.”

How To Help A Friend Who’s Suicidal Without Sacrificing Your Own Mental Health

See Author Link Here

As of 2017, the United States alone saw an estimated 1.3 million suicide attempts. Needless to say, suicide, often misunderstood and stigmatized, is a desperately urgent issue in America—and not solely for the people battling it firsthand. Supporting a suicidal friend can be a taxing, often frightening, stressful, and heartbreaking experience. But, being the best support system possible requires you to put yourself and your own needs first.

Easier said than done, though. As any caring and thoughtful friend would be, you’re likely worried about the wellness and safety of the person who you suspect to be in crisis. This situation can lead to bouts of self-doubt (“Am I doing and saying the right things?” or “Am I making things worse somehow?”), but Christine Moutier, MD, chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says to trust your instincts. “Asking about suicide will not make someone suicidal if they do not already have those thoughts. Usually people feel relieved to share, especially if you are respectful and compassionate,” she says.

While you should open the lines of communication by asking your friend what they need, know what your own boundaries are, says Dese’Rae L. Stage, suicide awareness activist and creator of Live Through This. “If you’re not in a position where you can help, be honest. Say, ‘I’m not doing too well myself, but here’s a way we can find you help.” Going this route is not only best for you and your own sense of wellness, but it can also make you more approachable to your friend. “It shows how much you truly care about your friend and also allows you to be human and acknowledge you don’t have all the answers either,” says therapist Amanda E. White, MA, LPC, adding that this dialogue can come as a relief to someone who is suicidal, because so many people tend to walk on eggshells around them.

“If you’re not in a position where you can help, be honest. Say, ‘I’m not doing too well myself, but here’s a way we can find you help.” —Dese’Rae L. Stage, suicide awareness activist

Another option for helping your friend without sacrificing yourself is to call in additional support. Stage suggests tapping other friends, especially if you are in a tight-knit group, to make it a team effort of sorts. “Take shifts if you can,” Stage says. “See what [your friend] needs. Are they having trouble in their living space? Do they need help with laundry or dishes? Do they need someone to sit there and watch TV with them and order a pizza? Do they need to get out? [Helping with] things like that are good starters.”

If that arrangement—or any other, for that matter—doesn’t work for you, one thing that certainly can is honesty. Tell your friend you are there in the capacity you can be, whatever that may be, and that you love them. “Let them know they’re supported, even if you can’t necessarily be the one to do it,” Stage says. When you’re having this chat, or any conversation around suicide, it’s best to be direct, open, and a good listener. “People who are suicidal just need to be heard and validated. Even if you don’t agree with them, just say, ‘I hear you, and that sounds really hard.’”

“Focusing on your own health and wellness is important when you are trying to support someone in your life. If you are not well, you won’t be able to be a support to someone else who is struggling.” —Christine Moutier, MD

Dr. Moutier echoes that your time and attention alone can be a huge help. “Know that by simply caring and offering a listening ear and a feeling of support, you are providing them with everything a friend should.”

That said, you yourself may benefit from talking through this ordeal with someone who can guide, support, listen to you. “You are not alone—whether you’re the one struggling or the friend supporting them.” says Dr. Moutier, who says seeking therapy or support groups could be a smart avenue to explore for self-preservation. “Focusing on your own health and wellness is important when you are trying to support someone in your life. If you are not well, you won’t be able to be a support to someone else who is struggling.” In addition to seeking counseling for yourself, she recommends getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods, “and doing whatever you can do reduce your own stress.”

To be your best self—for the sake of your own well-being and ability to be source of support for a friend in crisis—you must always take care of yourself. And doing so, White says, is anything but selfish. “The most important thing is to make sure you are spending time with people who empower you and provide you with energy and love.”

If you or someone you love is suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8755 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

05 Snowboarding & Suicide Series: Coming Back From The Dead

So.. you’re ALIVE. CONGRATULATIONS. MUCH JOY. What now?

Basically what I anticipated for the rest of my life.

This will be the last post in the Snowboarding & Suicide Series and I am so happy and appreciate anyone who even took a second to glance at it.

All I had to do was make it to the first week of December. I finally had my psychiatry appointment almost an entire month after I tried to kill myself. My boyfriend came for support and I was scared as HELL to bring it up to my doctor. Even in the past when I had felt suicidal I had maybe expressed the wish after the ideations had passed because I was always scared of being committed to a psych ward. The appointment went fine and we created a plan.

I agreed to start an antidepressant “Escitalopram” – also known as Lexapro. While I already knew that the majority of antidepressants take 6-8 weeks to fully kick in, it seemed like a fucked up amount of time for someone who is severely at risk for just …well, you know. But, for the first time in a while I felt an extremely pale shade of what I can only describe as hopefulness. & This is where it started.

Christmas came & went. I enjoyed it for sure, but I did not feel the typical Christmas euphoria that often accompanied the season, and I am like Buddy the fricken Elf at Christmas time. But I only saw a colorblind version of how I usually felt. After two weeks, I went back to see my psychiatrist to discuss how I was reacting to the medication. Nothing notable had changed and I begged to go up in dosage, but I couldn’t at that time and had to wait a bit longer.

The only bad side effect of the antidepressant that I experienced about 2 and a half weeks in were some pretty gnarly night sweats. They are sort of subsiding after being awful for a while, but we are still less than two months in.

Different Types of Antidepressants & Their Common Side Effects:
SSRI’s tend to be most popular.

This is when snowboarding finally becomes relevant to this story. For the past three years, my boyfriend & I have gone snowboarding around my birthday time and this year, we did the same as last & went up for a few nights with our pup. I have been snowboarding since I was 9, and we maintained our new little tradition this year. This was the first time that life had a full blown COLOR.

I am not sure how to really describe what happened on this trip that won’t sound like a load of crap but for the first time in..I can’t say how long.. I felt HAPPY, ALIVE, FREE without trying. Any time before this, if I wondered whether or not the antidepressants were kicking in, I had to consider the situation and DECIDE whether I was happy or not. On the mountain that day, it was just the most surreal experience.

FOR ONCE my brain turned ofF
FOR ONCE I just was in the zone; in the moment
FOR ONCE I was happy without any substances involved

FOR ONCE I felt like I was excited to be alive for the first time in so long I don’t even  have an estimate.

I knew that I had found my “thing” that thing that just makes you feel high when you really aren’t. This isn’t easy for me to find.

Somehow an activity I had engaged in for years became a completely different factor in my life, & made my enjoy and appreciate life genuinely.

That is what will be explored in the next series.

Thanks for tagging along with me for this first series!

So, these days of snowboarding: 1/8/19 & 1/9/19 gave me hope for the future, and was the catalyst for starting a blog and trying to be real about my own issues with mental health to try to help others.

Now, a segue into the next series: “Snowboarding & Self-Care”

Suicide Attempt Survivors Speak: On Trying Again.

New Posts To Come! Preview For Tomorrow’s Post.

Tomorrow’s Snowboarding & Suicide Series will focus on what sort of internal conflicts or just what it is like for different people and their different failed suicide attempts. In this instance, it happens to be mine. I was sort of blasé about then situation (hence the featured image). I do not want my own experiences, perceptions, and general emotional opinion on the situation to overshadow those of other.

There is no black & white when it comes to depression & suicide. These things can appear different to everyone. Before publishing my own take on what it is like to have survived a suicide attempt, I wanted to share some resources that provide different points of view around the situation & some extra resources.

No one’s experience is “right” or “wrong” when it comes to any aspect of mental illness. This is no exception.

41 Secrets Of Suicide Attempt Survivors

7 Things I Learned After My Failed Suicide Attempt

After A Suicide Attempt, The Risk Of Another Try
*This one is pretty important, about 2 weeks after the first attempt. I was extremely close to trying again. Dangerously close. Don’t make the mistake I almost did.