It’s Suicide Prevention Week, here’s what you should know…

Growing up I was always told the best thing you can do with your life is to help to make someone else’s better. I’m happy to say I’ve found my purpose where that’s concerned. For those of you who don’t know, it’s Suicide Prevention Week in America (World Suicide Prevention Day is this Thursday, September 10), and this is the time of year when we should all try to be supportive of and strong for those who cannot be for themselves. In case you’re new here, this (mental health matters) is a topic that’s dear to my heart as I have struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for several years. (You can read more about that here). I’ve now made it my mission to spread the word in the hopes of ending the stigma and edifying the populace for the greater good. I know how much having a support system helps, especially because the one common thread for people struggling with this problem is the need to put an end to their pain. My beautiful best friend Simca (Simone Ebanks) is a mental health nurse who shares a similar vision to spread the word, so I spoke with her for insight on mental illness and suicide. Read on…

Suicide-Jamaica

How to spot when someone is suicidal…

“Persons who often sound hopeless or explicitly say they don’t feel like living any more are usually having suicidal thoughts, while for others the biggest warning sign may be withdrawal from everything they would normally be into. There are those who hide their depression behind the mask of a smile and have mastered the art of hiding their pain and problems. For those individuals, the best help is be direct – stop and ask them about their day, for example. One conversation can save a life, and laughter is the best medicine.”

The best thing I would suggest for helping someone with suicidal thoughts is…

“To take them to a hospital or a doctor. You may try to assist and it helps for a while, then instead of going to a doctor for help, they do something harmful to themselves.” More about suicide risk here on Tech Times.

What do people most need to know about mental illnesses?

“Mental Illness does not discriminate. It cares not for colour, class or gender. My job has allowed me the opportunity to work daily with persons living with mental illnesses and it is no easy task, but it is truly amazing and I am really passionate about it.

For some people, mental Illness just means “he/she has lost their mind” but it is so much deeper… it causes a complete change in the person’s life — how they are able to deal with day-to-day activities, work, social life and family life. There may be a need for hospitalisation or medication and also to gain insight into the changes that have occurred, as when persons have no insight, it seems impossible to understand why they need treatment.”

 We have a problem here in Jamaica where persons who struggle with maintaining their mental health are pretty much falling by the wayside. What do you think we can do about it?

“There are several factors that are of key importance and in Jamaica especially, a number of issues regarding the way we handle mental illnesses and the persons affected need urgent addressing. These include compliance to medication regime, education and family support, all of which can be helped by public awareness campaigns.”

On medication…

“Both the families and affected individuals need to understand that medication must be taken in order to maintain a balance and remain well, or in the case of counselling, there needs to be someone for them to talk to about their thoughts and feelings.”

On education…

“Proper education regarding mental illness is lacking and not widespread. There’s also not enough emphasis being placed on educating persons re: the issues surrounding mental illnesses. We must understand that the affected individuals have lost touch with reality and we as the people around them need to open our minds to dealing with them and understanding how they are, as their behaviours are usually entirely out of their control.”

On having a support system…

“It is important to be there for someone who is affected by mental illness. Take the time to understand how he/she feels. They are human beings too, and once properly cared for they are capable of so much. This is why family support is another essential factor. To know that you have your family or even good friends as your support system makes a huge difference. This means you’ll have assistance with medication compliance, a friend to talk to, someone to care. There is a stigma surrounding mental illness because the bottom-line is most of us just don’t understand it, so we tend to write affected persons off as crazy, violent and disruptive or incapable of living normally, when that is often not the case. Someone who is being treated and monitored can function normally in society, excel at what they do and have a good life.

Don’t be afraid to share a kind word, a hug, or a smile with someone who is affected by mental illness, it may not seem like much, but trust me, it will make all the difference.”

Sources: The Jamaica Observer & Pubmed.gov

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9 thoughts on “It’s Suicide Prevention Week, here’s what you should know…

  1. nickyann says:

    Reblogged this on nickyann's Blog and commented:
    Spread the word! #mentalhealthawareness
    “Don’t be afraid to share a kind word, a hug, or a smile with someone who is affected by mental illness, it may not seem like much, but trust me, it will make all the difference.”

    Like

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