The Uncomfortable Conversation

Please bear with me for a moment, this post is about the very difficult subject of Chronic Depression and Suicide. It’s like we don’t wish to read about these subjects, much less think we’re going to be impacted by it. I’m biased by my general academic background, by my specific college degree work, by my own personal experiences with K-T Syndrome, and by my life experiences with people directly engaged in their own mental healthcare. I’ll add an additional personal note that my mother raised 4 children while fighting through mental health demons. I see a huge need and benefit to bringing these subjects into the bright light if day.

One of my passions in support of a membership is the underpinnings and realities of living with a chronic illness or a congenital syndrome that seems to chase after us is to make psychological counseling a regular discipline on the multidisciplinary team’s I am so fond of recommending when it comes to our medical care and treatment. Another personal note, as pertains to me, I do struggle with keeping myself pointed in a constructive direction although to date I’ve not felt compelled to seek counseling. I came very close to doing so in these last months. Within reach of me, my mother benefited from it when she went through it. And, I have personally witnessed family and friends benefiting from counseling. Sadly, mental healthcare isn’t even on the radar for the overwhelming majority of healthcare insurance companies; arguably even healthcare providers themselves.

Here we go!

My son just lost a dear friend to suicide. To a person his friends said they knew he struggled and they gave him as much personal support as they could. Yet, they wished they could have done more.

Today, a dear friend of mine talked about desperation and a life wherein a lack of, not just genuine understanding, but compassionate support creates a very fragile environment wherein people literally go into dark places wondering if they will ever come out. That person’s post got taken down basically with the explanation that a private, members only Facebook support group for people with, or people helping with difficult medical problems isn’t the proper place to in effect cry, to reach out for compassionate personal support (my very gut wrenching take on what I read and internalized).

I simply don’t agree.

No, absolutely not! A person considering suicide or even remotely sounding like they are deeply in despair gets through the night and dark places so often by having personal, emotional support until they can hear or self discover the need for professional support. It’s simply not good enough to say hang up and call a Psychologist.

I cried. I then went back to my training and my memory of how we were instructed to respond as both lay persons and professionals when a contact of ours crosses that uncomfortable threshold I call unrelenting despair. The American Psychological Association many decades ago helped me with information and recommendations on how even the lay person has a legit role in the care and treatment of those in deep despair. Below is a current link that I found and read; once again I’m reassured from the APA that we can do something. It’s not a guarantee of success, nor is it a blanket approval for amateurs to practice medicine without a license. It is however a plea to never hang up the phone or express a mechanical reluctance to simply listen, encourage, and “guide” those in need into the capable hands if a waiting professional even if that professional is a phone call away at organizations that likewise are passionate about Suicide Prevention.

From the APA article:

“Five tips from CDC for what you can do if you’re concerned about a friend or loved one:

◦ Ask someone you are worried about if they’re thinking about suicide. (While people may be hesitant to ask, research shows this is helpful.)

◦ Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means for those at risk.

◦ Be there with them. Listen to what they need.

◦ Help them connect with ongoing support.

◦ Stay connected. Follow up to see how they’re doing

If you need help for yourself or someone else, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or chat online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.”

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X https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/suicide-prevention

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