National Suicide Prevention Month: Thoughts from Ann Jacobus

Ann Jacobus posted on her blog about National Suicide Prevention Month. I’m reposting because there are a lot of important facts on thoughts here that directly relate to this month’s discussion. Thanks Ann! Also, stay tuned for an interview with Rachel Wilson about Anxiety, OCD, and her debut novel Don’t Touch on wednesday.

Granted, it’s not a cheerful subject, but what we should be upbeat about is that suicide is slowly emerging into the light to be discussed, and understood and diminished.

In the U.S. death by suicide is the third largest killer of young adults, the second of college age kids. It’s the single biggest cause of death of men under 50 in the UK. Yikes. #mandown 

Some 40,000 people kill themselves in the US each year. As many as ten times that number make an attempt. And yet for so long almost no one has wanted to talk about it, at all.

Suicide has been a problem for humanity since recorded history. In the west, during Roman times it was considered tragic, but sometimes noble. By the Middle Ages however, a suicide’s corpse was desecrated, their estates were stripped of property and their families ostracized.


Even though that was many hundreds of years ago, maybe that’s why the stigma is still hard to shake. And families of suicide victims can still feel like that.

The recent death by suicide of actor Robin Williams brought the subject into the limelight once again.

A person who is having suicidal thoughts or worse, more actively planning it, is suffering under tremendous pressure with inadequate resources to cope.  It can happen to almost anyone.

Think of it like a balance.

Stressors versus ability to cope

On the “coping” side is that which gets us through hard times: our attachments and relationships–both intimate and with our community(s); our fundamental feelings of worth as humans; physical and mental health; and our abilities and habits to process stress.

If this coping “side” is lacking, then it takes less on the other side to push us into crisis.

On the other side is the tough stuff: familial and societal pressures, past trauma or abuse. Personality factors, such as sensitivity, and impulsiveness, can play into the equation as well.

Substance abuse magnifies anything on this heavy “side” significantly.

If we get out of balance during a normal developmentally stressful time, such as puberty, when leaving home, marriage, birth of children, or retirement, the “scales” are further tipped against us.

Then, a precipitating event such as recent trauma, death of a loved one, a break-up, lost job, health set back, etc. sometimes even seemingly positive changes such as a move, or a new job happens, and wham. We’re fully overwhelmed.

We can support the mental and physical strain of being overwhelmed–in crisis–only so long (not very).

When a person feels isolated and alone with their pain, or it’s simply too much to bear even WITH support, a person starts to consider the only thing that can put an end to their suffering. Death at their own hand.

No one really wants to die. They want the pain to lessen.

Fortunately, there are more and more resources available in most communities to help those in crisis.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call a local crisis line.

In the U.S. and Canada, it’s 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

In the U.K., contact the Samaritans at +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate).  And from 5pm – midnight, GMT call the CALM Helpline at 0800-58 58 58

It’s 13 11 14 within Australia.

If you know someone who might be feeling desperate or suicidal, talking about suicide with themDOES NOT put the idea in a person’s head.

It’s already there.

Talking about it with someone (and listening) can begin to relieve the unendurable pressure and may make a lifesaving difference.


Please talk about it…

And have a balanced, happy week.




About pamwatts

Writer, Reader, and Children's advocate
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6 Responses to National Suicide Prevention Month: Thoughts from Ann Jacobus

  1. Thank you for running this excellent piece. Ann also contacted me about sending the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Canada one of my LEGO photos to help them with a program for teens on becoming connected.

  2. This is a great post by Ann. 🙂 It’s true, no one really wants to die. They want the pain to go away and sometimes it seems the only way it ever will is if they die. It’s a sad thought that so many people have, especially young adults. It’s tragic. It seems the only time people talk about suicide (generally) is when it’s happened to a celebrity such as Robin Williams (R.I.P.). It’s sad that enough isn’t done about it.

    • pamwatts says:

      My cousin lived with us through my teen years, and he wasn’t always a good guy. He was very violent owing to a few stints in Juvie and he was a drug dealer. But he was also a ridiculously sweet and charming little boy and you could still see that side of him occasionally when he lived with us. I am haunted by his suicide to this day. The summer before he killed himself, I was working with kids just like him, but I wasn’t there for him. Apparently the night he killed himself, he called all of his friends and all of my sister’s friends (she still lived at home, whereas I lived 2000 miles away at school), but no one had time to see him. I just think about that. A lot.

      • Wow, I’m so sorry for your loss. Yeah, there are good and bad sides to everyone. It’s so upsetting to hear that no one would see him. That’s terrible. I would be thinking about it a lot. It sucks when someone’s going through something and you can’t be there for them, if they even let you know what they’re dealing with.

  3. Pingback: Suicide & Mental Illness Theme Read at Resistance is Futile | Strong in the Broken Places

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