Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Hope, Reasons to Live, and Suicide Prevention

on June 11, 2007

A friend of mine that I grew up with recently died by suicide. JC felt he had been in too much emotional pain for too long and he didn’t see it getting any better. This was so crushing that I want to share hope with others. I want you to know there is help, there are people who love you and care for you, there are ways to cope with and lessen emotional pain and grief, and that your life, however painful at the moment, is a gift and you can use it to bring help and joy to others and to yourself. These are some things that have given me hope, and I want them to give you hope, too.

Flight of Hope #1 – My favorite movie is “It’s a Wonderful Life,” wherein George Bailey realizes at the end just how much of a difference he has made in the lives of others, and how many people love and care for him. That lesson has always had a profound effect on me because I believe that much of the good we do and love we engender is unknown to us. Frederick Buechner said, “The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” We are all here together. Separateness is an illusion, for we all touch each other in ways we cannot fathom.

Flight of Hope #2 -I also believe that when we are sad and can’t find a good reason to live, we can focus on helping others. Turning compassion outward sometimes helps us have it for ourselves. If you can find the sacred part of yourself and live from there, you’ll touch people in positive ways. One little flicker of light is all it takes to light a dark room – find that light within yourself and share it.

Emily Dickinson wrote,

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Flight of Hope #3 – When I saw Under the Tuscan Sun, I had just gone through a terrible divorce and was reeling emotionally and financially. My life had been overturned and I lost my love and my home. I had thoughts myself that it would be easier not to go on. But after seeing that movie, I realized that many lives are available to us. It is possible, for instance, to sell off everything I own, move to Italy and work as a waitress!! I didn’t do that – what I did was move far away, and in with some friends, and worked in a flower shop. I healed through the support of my friends and the willingness to change my life. It is possible to get a new job, a new home, move to a different part of the town/state/country/world, cut your hair, get a makeover, meet new friends, get a pet, go to social events, learn new skills, read new books, etc. In other words, when your current life is unbearable, death is not the next step. The next step is to reinvent yourself, and reinvent your life. You are not stuck. You are not trapped. Another lesson from that movie is that the future is built by what you do now – Martini tells Francis, “Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.” Believe that your train is coming! Build the tracks…

Flight of Hope #4 – Many people are on anti-depressants, and when properly diagnosed, that’s a good thing. But another part of emotional health is recognizing your feelings and being able to cope with them. Expressing our feelings is what keeps them from exploding. What if, when we feel sad, we could validate and express our feelings in these ways? I think we’d find that the sadness dissipates.

  • Vocalize sad feelings – cry, yell, wail, sob, moan
  • Draw yourself in a sad situation that you remember
  • Find music that reflects your sadness
  • Express your sadness through dance if you feel like it
  • Write about your sadness – keep a sadness diary
  • Watch a movie that you know will allow your tears to flow
  • Think about who you wish you could share your sadness with and picture yourself talking to this person
  • Share your sad feelings with someone

Flight of Hope #5 – Perspective is also important to think about when you are very sad. Everyone experiences suffering and pain. Every single person in the world will experience loss and grief. You are not alone in feeling the way you do. It is our courage in these circumstances – to remain free inside our hearts and not to let suffering smother our spirit – that makes us the hero of our own journey.

Norbert Capek composed this poem in Dresden Prison in 1941, shortly before he was transferred to Dachau concentration camp, where he died in October, 1942 ~

It is worthwhile to live
and fight courageously
for sacred ideals.

O blow ye evil winds
into my body’s fire
my soul you’ll never unravel.

Even though disappointed a thousand times
or fallen in the fight
and everything would worthless seem,

I have lived amidst eternity —
Be grateful, my soul —
My life was worth living.

He who was pressed from all sides
but remained victorious in spirit
is welcomed into the choir of heroes.

He who overcame the fetters
giving wings to his mind
is entering into the golden age of
the victorious.

In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond tells his son, Albert, “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, ‘Do your worst, for I will do mine!’ Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the man!” It is the courage you muster, and the courage you have in the worst moments that make you a mature human being. If you look for that courage, you’ll find it. Don’t give up!

Flight of Hope #6 – Start simple. There are many things to open your senses to that may bring you back into an appreciation of life. Go outside and let your senses awaken. Walk on the beach – feel the sand, smell and taste the salt-air, hear the waves and the gulls, watch the sunset. Walk down the street or walk in the woods, drive to the desert or sit on a park bench, and pay attention to each one of your senses. Close your eyes and experience. Anne Frank wote, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”

Flight of Hope #7 – There is someone available right now to listen and help.

The most important step is to talk to someone. People who feel suicidal should not try to cope alone. They should seek help NOW.

  • Talk to family or friends. Just talking to a family member or a friend or a colleague can bring huge relief.
  • Talk to a befriender. Some people cannot talk to family or friends. Some find it easier to talk to a stranger. There are befriending centers all over the world, with volunteers who have been trained to listen. If calling is too difficult, the person can send an email.
  • Talk to a doctor. If someone is going through a longer period of feeling low or suicidal, he or she may be suffering from clinical depression. This is a medical condition caused by a chemical imbalance, and can usually be treated by a doctor through the prescription of drugs and/or a referral to therapy.

Call the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-784-2433 (TOLL FREE Nation Wide)
Website: www.timesunion.com/communities/samaritans/
Website: www.suicidepreventioncenter.org

The experts say suicide is rarely a spur of the moment decision and is not so much about wanting to die, but about a powerful need for pain to end. All types of people die by suicide: men and women, rich and poor, old and young, straight and gay, rural and urban. What suicidal people share are feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and isolation, a desire for a solution to their problems, and deep uncertainties about living and dying. The more you know about suicide, the better you will be able to help someone struggling with these issues.

In the days and hours before people take their own lives, there are usually

Warning Signs:

The strongest warning signs are verbal: “I can’t go on,” “Nothing matters any more,” “I’m thinking of ending it all.” Such remarks should always be taken seriously.

Other warning signs include:
Becoming depressed or withdrawn for > 2 weeks
Behaving recklessly
Getting affairs in order and giving away valued possessions
Showing a marked change in behavior, attitudes or appearance
Abusing drugs or alcohol

What do people who feel suicidal want?

Someone who will take time to really listen.

Someone who won’t judge, or give advice or opinions, but will give their undivided attention.

Someone to trust.

Someone who will respect them.

Someone who will say, “I care.”

Someone who will make him/herself available; put the person at ease and speak calmly.

Someone who will reassure, accept and believe.

What do people who feel suicidal not want?

To be alone. Rejection can make the problem seem ten times worse. Having someone to turn to makes all the difference. Just listen.

To be advised. Lectures don’t help. Nor does a suggestion to “cheer up”, or an easy assurance that “everything will be okay.” Don’t analyze, compare, categorize or criticize.

To be interrogated. Don’t change the subject, don’t pity or patronize. Talking about feelings is difficult. People who feel suicidal don’t want to be rushed or put on the defensive.

Have hope – we are all children of God, we are all made of stars.

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One response to “Hope, Reasons to Live, and Suicide Prevention

  1. Jagadish says:

    Really nice piece of blog. I am sure a lot of people will find hope through this.

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