Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a day every year where I think about those who have died by suicide, those who have been affected by suicide, have suicidal ideations and reflect on my personal suicide attempts.
Suicide can be a very painful topic for people to talk about. I wanted to share with you the myths of suicide and what my experiences have taught me.
Myth: People who attempt or die by suicide are selfish.
I know for myself, when deciding to attempt suicide, I was extremely preoccupied with whether or not I would implicate anyone else in the process. I was so concerned about protecting my family, loved ones, innocent people and health workers that my options were extremely limited. It is important to know that suicide can be a way of relieving one’s pain and suffering and I had distorted beliefs that the people I loved would be better off without me.
Myth: Suicide was the person’s choice.
When someone is mentally ill and considering suicide, their perception of the world and their thoughts are often severely distorted. I know for myself, I was so tormented by my thoughts that I determined that suicide was the only way I would be free of them. At the time, I felt like I had no other option, however, I now know that suicide is not the only choice. Ultimately, suicide is a permanent decision to a temporary problem.
Myth: Suicide is a crime.
Suicide is NOT a crime in Canada, however it was written in the Canadian Criminal Code until 1972. The phrase “committed suicide” comes from a time where suicide was illegal and has a lot of negative connotations linked with it. Instead of saying “committed suicide”, terms like “died by suicide” or just “suicide” should be used to help reduce stigma.
For those of you who are suicide survivors, you are not alone. In 1994, my suicide attempt left me in a coma and on kidney dialysis. When I woke up, I was mad at the world, “Why am I still here?” and “Why did that attempt not work?”. What I know now is that I wasn’t done in this world, I had more left to carry out. As a suicide survivor myself, I can tell you it does get better. Recently, I was interviewed where I talked about my mental illness and my naturopathic approach to helping those dealing with depression and suicide ideation. Please watch until the end to hear what you can do for a loved one and what you can do to help yourself now if you are the one suffering.
Taking a preventative approach to suicide is more important than ever. During COVID-19, it is important to remember the importance of social connection and finding a support system. Remember, physical distancing does not mean we have to mentally or emotionally distance ourselves. Some of the other techniques to nurturing your mental health include keeping a regular sleep schedule, daily exercise, spending time in nature, practicing gratitude, eating a low sugar, high protein diet and seeking help when needed.
Today, I encourage you to reach out for support, check in with loves ones and to speak up about your struggles; you never know who may resonate with your story. If you are in immediate need, please reach out to the Distress Line in Edmonton 780-482-4357 (HELP).
Dr. Chris ND