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07/01/2014

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Susan Auerbach

So grateful for the message of this article and I wish this could be more widely disseminated. The "100% preventable" line was on a billboard somewhere in L.A. and I heard a survivor talk about seeing it on her way to a support group - shaking her up. It's not just that it's hurtful to survivors but that it misrepresents the issue. My sense is that many suicides are preventable up to a point -- but that too many people in despair get beyond that point where they are no longer able to think clearly, to feel, or to care about their connection to others - and at that point, they may be beyond help. That at least was what seemed to happen with my 21-year-old son. How many people who kill themselves ever sought help when they were in crisis or even called a crisis line? Do we have research on that? We must always put effort and resources into suicide prevention, into research, into improving the primitive field of psychiatry, with the faith that over time, those steps will help more people avoid suicide and heal. But we must have a realistic sense of the limitations of suicide prevention measures, as well. Otherwise the field has no credibility and is too close to propaganda.

Amy Jones

I absolutely believe that suicide is 100% preventable. The difficulty is that this statement is read as an external statement... It is only 100% preventable by the person who ultimately takes their life. If we didn't believe this, at least at some level, the pain would be less for us survivors. We wouldn't have separation with "suicide" being different than any other grief. With all the loss I have experienced, suicide is always the hardest to heal from. Mostly because it is chosen, usually not communicated, leaving the survivor with guilt, shame, grief, and responsibility... None of which are really ours. Do I believe my mom could have chosen another path? YES. I did. Many of us have. She didn't. Not 100% preventable from me, her medication, her doctors... No, only preventable by her, that moment, that choice, that day. Only she could have made it different.

Gail

I have discussed with my local AFSP contacts the need for more sensitivity to the impact that any discussions about suicide being preventable may have on survivors of suicide loss.

If they mean that theoretically, suicide is 100% preventable, then they should always preface it that way. I would like to see more discussion on how to engage people in activities that can help prevent suicide, while also helping people understand that they are not responsible when someone else ends their life.

Debra Stang

Great article, Ronnie. I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, I would argue that not only was my friend Julia's suicide not 100% preventable, it was probably 100% inevitable. She never responded to any kind of treatment for her depression and made so many attempts that I'm surprised she lived as long as she did.

Thank you for calling attention to this very sensitive topic for survivors!

Debra (Hestia)

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