Living on the Edge

We’re starting the week with something heavy, but heavy often equates to important and that’s the case for today, September 10. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. We talk about mental health and specifically suicide much more openly than ever before. Companies have programs in place for people to reach out for help. We’re more likely to notice certain behaviors in family and friends and consider whether there might be an issue there. So why are so many people still committing suicide? 

It’s because they’re not reaching out for help. The nature of their illness or condition prevents it, especially in men, who are three times more likely to complete the act than than women.  Men are also much more likely to feel there’s a stigma that prevents them from talking about their mental health. (Statistics Canada data)

In the US, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death. And if you think about the recent, high-profile takers of their own lives, they’ve mostly been American: Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain. How, we wonder, could somebody who seemingly had it all going for them, DO this?

Having it all doesn’t eliminate mental illness. And some personality types are proven to be more likely to lean toward the dark side. Risk factors include:

Mental disorders, especially mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder
Family history of suicide
Co-occurring mental disorder and alcohol/substance abuse
Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
Physical illness
Isolation (Read a more comprehensive list at Hogan Injury HERE)

The big question is, how do we identify people who are thinking about suicide before it’s too late? We’ve come a long way in breaking down stigmas, although there’s much work still to do. But those who are hiding such a giant secret get very good at it. We can’t tell because they don’t want us to know. Personalities and circumstances can only reveal so much.

And we need to take it seriously when someone brings up the topic. No more, “Oh that’s just Ralph, he’s a bummer”. Healthy, happy people don’t talk about ending their own lives. Never think, oh I’m sure it’s nothing. I know him/her/them and they’d never do that. Sometimes those who seem the sunniest on the outside are the darkest on the inside. Picking up on those fleeting moments might mean the difference between life and death.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Eric Marks. I’ll remember the fun times.

My buddy Eric and I posing in front of a Christmas tree, nighttime, Victoria Park, London



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