Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
- Joyce Meyer
please remember you are needed in this world.
If you have a plan and the means to carry it out, and feel that your life is in danger - call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room, immediately.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, there is help available, 24 hours a day, every single day. Reaching out is is the brave thing to do. Your voice matters and there are people waiting to talk to you.
Asking for help is an act of courage and it may be one of the most important things you will ever do for yourself, your friends, and your loved ones.
Thank you to the International Bipolar Foundation for their list of worldwide crisis/suicide prevention hotlines.
Monday, September 28, 2020
As we near the end of Suicide Prevention Month, I thought I would share again the welcome page for this blog. Lighting Up the Sky has had a lot of views and I know that this is not because of me or my personal essays. This blog has a lot to offer, my story is only one small part:
We share comprehensive suicide prevention and awareness resources. In addition, we have three regular features. Our Voices Matter, which shares the stories of others whose lives have also been touched by suicide. The Beauty of Grief, which shares the poignancy of loss and the many beautiful ways that people memorialize their loved ones. And Their Lives Mattered, which features the names, faces, and lives of the multitude of authors, artists, musicians, and celebrities, whose lives were lost to suicide. Finally, the blog shares the personal essays of Chelise Stroud, a two time survivor of suicide loss.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of being impacted by suicide, you are are welcome here. Whether you are a survivor of loss, someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts, or if you are just looking for information, we want you to know:
You are not alone.
There is always help.
There is always hope.
You can learn more and find links to our regular features, below.
These are the words of storytellers, activists, advocates, law makers, and loved ones.
Survivors of suicide loss are often made to feel as if they should not talk about their grief. Some feel pressured to not bring up their loved one anymore. And because suicide loss is particularly traumatic, it often carries with it a prolonged and complicated grieving.
In order for healing to occur and for stigma to be addressed, survivors need to be able to talk about their feelings and they need to be able to keep the memory of their loved ones alive in whatever way feels important to them. Just as with anyone suffering from a loss, it is important that they be allowed to commemorate their loved ones both publicly and personally.
The Beauty of Grief celebrates the artwork, photographs, poems, quotes, and other creative expressions, of those who are grieving.
To see The Beauty of Grief posts, click on the image below:
The posts also feature individuals who were celebrities at the time of their death. Artists, writers, authors, actors, and musicians. Click on the image below to learn more:
One of the most important things you can do on this earth
Sunday, September 27, 2020
The fact that we can function, at great cost to ourselves, is used to beat up the people who cannot function.
I was also angry at the lack of resources and support available to those who love someone with a mental illness. I hated that much of the messaging for partners and loved ones is that they either leave, love perfectly, or assert boundaries that are nearly impossible to manage. All of these messages fell terribly short of respecting the imperfection of being human.
I have come to believe that the suggestions that are made to the loved ones are born of the fact that we don't have adequate treatment for mental illness itself, and we don't have adequate resources to foster universal suicide awareness.
These illnesses inflict pain and suffering on not just the person with the illness, but also on their loved ones. Trying to mitigate this suffering, loved ones often treat the person with the illness as if they are the enemy. Sadly, this dynamic exacerbates the shame and fear that mental illness already imposes.
And if we lose someone to suicide? We disect in excruciating detail the ways in which we'd been in conflict with the person we'd lost. We continue to confuse the illness with the person we loved. How could they have done this to me? But we must begin to replace the words 'him/her/they' with 'the illness,' in order to have an accurate reflection of what was going on.
Similarly, we ask ourselves: how could I have said this to him? How could I have done this to her? The answer is that we weren't fighting with the person we lost, we'd been engaged in an argument with an illness.
Still, whether we are loss survivors or we are attempt survivors - we agonize over what we could not do, what we did do, and what we believe we should have done. We blame ourselves for not having tools and resources, despite the fact that they do not yet exist. We blame ourselves for not knowing many things that are still unknown. We blame ourselves for not being the cure for mental illness - as if that were even possible.
It was exhausting. The grief was exhausting. My self flagellation was exhausting. I was tired of the confusion. And then one day I realized that I would never overcome the worst of my pain, if I didn't better understand what had happened to John, and myself, and my mother.
It is important for me to point out that amidst all of this emotional exhaustion, I remained motivated by wanting to defend John. Because he died by suicide, there was this constant inference that he was selfish. But I knew him well. He was human with many flaws, but selfishness was the least among them.
If nothing else, I understood that John had lost his life to a mental illness that was beyond his control, and yet he was being blamed for it. I knew that he'd fought extremely hard to rebound from the ways his illness impacted him. I knew this because he told me, I knew this because I saw it.
When John died, I knew he deserved far better than the fallacy that he'd been weak or selfish.
I thought about when my mother had died by suicide 15 years earlier. When she died, I was beside myself with grief and guilt. My lack of understanding set me up for years of feeling responsible and years of feeling as if the similarities between her illness and my own meant that I would lose my life to suicide too.
And then I thought about my own suicide attempt, which had happened less than five years prior to John's death. In the weeks following my attempt, family members stopped speaking to me. People unfriended me on Facebook. I received one anonymous text: "Don't do this to your son." To this day, I don't know if that was supposed to be instructive or accusatory.
I changed my phone number and stopped replying to messages.
The truth is, I hadn't known the answers to the questions people were asking. I agreed with the premises though. There was something terribly selfish/bad/wrong with me. I was not worthy of friendships or forgiving. I couldn't understand how I had 'let' this happen either. I, like John, had tried desperately to stay alive, for years. What went wrong and how could I have failed so terribly? The accusations from others and the self blame on my end was agonizing.
I had bursts of blaming others for my despair, and bursts of feeling defensive of myself. Mostly though, I agreed with what the world at large says about those who are suicidal: I was selfish. All I cared about were my feelings and I was incapable of thinking about the feelings of others. I was rash and weak and not to be trusted. I was not worthy.
When my mother died, initially I was convinced that I should have 'done something different' to save her. Fifteen years later when John died, I believed that I should have 'loved him better' in order to save him. With my own attempts, I just knew I'd failed everyone who loved me. In all three, I still struggle with guilt some days. This is common for people whose lives have been touched by suicide. Guilt offers very few people mercy.
Our culture tells us that death by suicide is driven by choice. This belief creates an agonizing contemplation on the part of the loss survivor. 'Why didn't the person I lost choose me over death?' And for the attempt survivor, the stigma driven suggestion that they made a selfish choice only serves to add a layer of shame on top of what is likely already profound self hatred.
After John died, I realized that my voice was important. I am the voice of someone who has experienced all these facets of suicide and stigma. I am a multiple loss survivor. I am a suicide attempt survivor. And I am a person who, at times, still struggles with suicidality.
I have experienced first hand the misunderstanding, the accusations, and the insensitivity. But I have also experienced the support, the understanding, and the love that carries people like me from one day to the next.
This is why I use my voice. Because it is those who speak up who are making a difference. If those who read learn something, that can potentially lead to life saving advocacy and action. And for others, knowing that they not alone and that they are understood can save a life too.
There is an African Proverb: Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse. If suicide has touched your life, I encourage you to reach out, ask questions, and learn more. Educating yourself is the first step toward compassion.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Terry Newton was an English professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1990s and 2000s. He played at representative level for Great Britain, England and Lancashire, and at club level for the Leeds Rhinos, the Wigan Warriors, the Bradford Bulls, and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats. Newton was one of a handful of players to feature in each of the first 15 seasons of Super League.
In February 2010, Newton was given a two-year ban after being one of the first sportsmen to have tested positive for human growth hormone. Seven months later, he died by suicide. Terry Newton was 31 years old when he died.
November 7, 1978 – September 26, 2010
Friday, September 25, 2020
Alejandra Pizarnik was an Argentinian poet. She was born in Avellaneda, a city within the Greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area. Her imigrant Jewish parents were from Rowno (now Ukraine).
Pizamik was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968, and in 1971 a Fulbright Scholarship. Her best-known books of poetry were: Los trabajos y las noches (1965), Extracción de la piedra de la locura (1968) and El infierno musical (1971).
Pizamik had a difficult childhood, struggling with self-esteem issues, as well as having a stutter. Due to weight gain that upset her, she began to take amphetamines. She became strongly addicted and struggled with long periods of sleep disorders that caused insomnia.
Despite her writing and academic successes, Pizamik lost her life to suicide just one year after receiving her Fulbright Scholarship. She was 36 years old when she died.
April 29, 1936 – September 25, 1972
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Monday, September 21, 2020
Charles Reginald Jackson was an American author widely known for his 1944 novel The Lost Weekend.
As a young teen, Jackson experienced a significant trauma. When he was thirteen years old, his older sister Thelma and younger brother Richard were killed while riding in a car that was struck by an express train.
As an adult Jackson struggled with alcoholism and addiction. He suffered from mental illness and in the years prior to his death, he was repeatedly suicidal and hospitalized more than once.
Jackson did have years of sobriety, but at the end of his life he suffered a relapse. Charles Jackson died by suicide on September 21, 1968. He was sixty five years old.