Warning Signs You Need to Know – How to Predict a Suicide Attempt (2/2)

→ July 20, 2011 - 36 Comments

Warning Signs You Need to Know – How to Predict a Suicide Attempt (2/2)

In part one I discussed the details of a study about 100 people who attempted suicide in Florida. Part two outlines the predictive factors for suicide attempts identified in this study and how we can use this information to predict who will attempt suicide.

And perhaps more importantly, how you can prevent a suicide attempt in a loved one.

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Suicide Warning Signs You Need to Know – Who Attempts Suicide? (1/2)

→ July 18, 2011 - 14 Comments

Suicide Warning Signs You Need to Know – Who Attempts Suicide? (1/2)

Some of us in the mental health field have heard the suicide warning signs so often it’s practically tattooed on the back of our skull: suicide note, suicide plan persistent thoughts of suicide, previous suicide attempt and so on.

But if you think you know the warning signs for a suicide attempt you’re probably wrong, at least according to a study out of Florida. For example, fewer than 1-in-10 people leave suicide notes and fewer than one-third of people have persistent thoughts of suicide before their suicide attempt.

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No Hospitalization after a Suicide Attempt?

→ July 13, 2011 - 167 Comments

No Hospitalization after a Suicide Attempt?

As I mentioned, a friend of mine attempted suicide last Friday. His life was saved by his friends, the police and hospital staff. I’m grateful his suicide attempt was not successful.

But one of the oddest things about this scenario is after the suicide attempt he was not hospitalized. The hospital stabilized and released him. Just like that. No psychiatric hold. No psychiatric treatment. Nothing.

What the hell is up with that?

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To The Mentally Ill Who Attempt Suicide

→ July 10, 2011 - 50 Comments

It is a depressing reality most people with a serious mental illness will attempt suicide at some time. Yes, more than half will attempt suicide. That’s a very large number. More women will attempt suicide but more men will commit suicide. Women will overdose while men will use firearms. More than half of these people will not leave suicide notes.

We are lucky most suicide attempts fail. Most people who attempt suicide will be rescued by others.

A Suicide Attempt

Last Friday night a man I met online tried to kill himself. He posted his suicide note online. Thankfully, some friends of his called 9-1-1, the police entered his apartment and took him to the hospital.

I am very grateful he is still alive.

The Shame of Attempting Suicide

After a suicide attempt, many people are thankful they didn’t succeed. Most people who attempt suicide later realize the moment they attempted suicide was a particularly brutal part of the fight against their mental illness and death is not truly what they want. They end up feeling ashamed of their suicide attempt.

Suicide Attempt isn't ShamefulPlease Don’t Feel Ashamed of a Symptom of Your Illness

I understand the shame that goes with doing something you later regret. I understand the shame of realizing you did something because of your mental illness. I understand the shame of acknowledging you admitted defeat at the hands of pain and depression.

But a suicide attempt is not shameful.

A suicide attempt is a symptom of an illness. It is no more shameful than sneezing from a cold. Attempting suicide is brutal and hard and painful on you and those around you. No one wants to see you die, see you gone. But the fact for one moment you gave in to the pain isn’t shameful, it’s human.

Those who do not know the pain may not understand. But sometimes you hit a wall. A wall of pain. And sometimes that wall tries to kill you.

You Are Not Who People Say You Are

Some people try to hurt you because you have attempted suicide. Some people try to use this symptom as evidence you are, in some way, “bad.”

But you are not bad. You are sick. Anyone that would use an illness to hurt another person is an abuser. Anyone that would try to use a suicide attempt as a weapon does not deserve a second thought. Or a first one for that matter. You are better than that. They are not worthy of you.

Humans Make Mistakes

Every one of us has done things we later regret. Some of us (most of us) have been complete assholes at one time or another. Humans are selfish, crass, hurtful, awful people sometimes. We’re like that. We’re wildly imperfect beings.

But these mistakes make us human. Recognition of frailties is a strength. It’s only after realizing what we don’t like in ourselves that we can change it.

A Suicide Attempt Isn’t the End of the World

Yes, a suicide attempt is horrible; a suicide attempt may run roughshod over your life; a suicide attempt may hurt those around you. A suicide attempt is painful but it isn’t the end of your world.

Attempting suicide puts you in the company of many of your fellow crazies. If you look to the left and to the right of you, you will see thousands of people just like you. Who made the same choice. Who now live to tell the tale.

A suicide attempt is horrible, but it is part of mental illness and not the end of the world.

Save Yourself Now

If you feel unsafe, don’t wait, contact someone right now. Here is information on how to get help. Let these people help you. You need to fight your mental illness.

I am extremely grateful my friend is still here. The people in your life want you to be here too.


Know that there is zero latitude when commenting on this post. I will not tolerate negative, hurtful or sarcastic comments.

Psych Meds Prevent Artistic and Creative Thought

→ May 27, 2011 - 54 Comments

Not infrequently, at the Bipolar Burble I get comments about how if famous artists with mental illnesses had of been medicated, we would have no art today. For some odd reason their go-to example is always Vincent Van Gogh. Without his untreated mental illness, they argue, Van Gogh wouldn’t have been the great artist we know him to be today.

Right then. Let’s all go off our meds and paint. And chop off our ears.

Creativity and Mental Illness

There is no doubt that being crazy makes you see things in a new way. I know I can see things in ways that others can’t. It’s both a benefit and a dramatic hindrance. I’m constantly dealing with people looking at me in odd ways as they try to wrap their head around whatever-the-heck logic my thoughts are trying to make. It’s no mean feat.

But that’s not necessarily all the bipolar. That’s creativity. I was creative before I was crazy, before I was medicated. And I’m creative now, on psych medication.

Creativity and Hypomania

I have had hypomanic times where I have written and written and written and written. Thousands and thousands of words pour out of my skull. And they are brilliant.

Or at least, so I think at the time.

Hypomanic (and manic) people think they are brilliant. Think they are unbelievably talented and creative. Think they are genius. It doesn’t mean they actually are.

Creativity and Psychiatric Medication

Since being on psych meds I have written thousands of pages. Thousands. Some professionally, some not, but many fairly laudable and creative. Believe it or not folks, I do have talent and that talent hasn’t magically been removed because of the medication.

Of course, if I’m too depressed because of the bipolar to get off the couch, that has a rather adverse effect on producing anything, talented or not.*

Van Gogh Committed Suicide

Van Gogh, Self-portrait with Straw Hat, 1887–8 (via Wikipedia)

Artists, Psychiatric Medication and Death

But so you don’t agree with me. You have personally found you’re brilliant off meds and not on. OK. Fine. And maybe you think you’d be willing to part with your ear to be Van Gogh. OK. Fine.

But you might want to keep in mind some truly brilliant people who killed themselves due to mental illness, including Van Gogh whose depression worsened over the course of his lifetime, making him unable to paint, leading to his suicide at the age of 37.

And then there are other famous artists dead from suicide:

  • Sylvia Plath, suicide at 30
  • Kurt Cobain, suicide at 27
  • Ernest Hemingway, suicide at 62 (and just in case you’re doubting genetics, his father, brother and sister also committed suicide)
  • Diane Arbus, suicide at 48 (both a drug overdose and slashed wrists)
  • Arshile Gorky, suicide at 44
  • Alexander McQueen, diagnosed anxiety and depressive disorders, suicide at 41
  • Virginia Woolf, suicide at 59, part of her suicide note to her husband:

I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. . . I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. . . I can’t read.

And a whole bunch of other talented people both known and unknown who had their lives cut short by suicide.

And my guess is the loved ones of every single one of those people wish treatment had of been available for /used by their loved ones.

Psych Medication Destroys Creativity and Art

So don’t give me the bullshit argument that medications are “bad” because they hamper creativity. Because you know what really kills your creativity?



A Little Bit More

* There’s a study showing this but I seem to have misplaced it.
I’m not saying it’s never the case that medication inhibits creativity, just that it’s a poor argument and misses some of the fundamental reasons why people get treatment in the first please.
Creative people who have publically stated they are in treatment for a mental illness. Including Patty Duke, “She says that she’s more creative now because she can organize a thought.”

Why Should I Continue to Fight the Pain of Depression for Another 40 Years?

→ March 3, 2011 - 170 Comments

A commenter, Jessica, left a comment yesterday that so succinctly expresses what so many of us feel about depression, bipolar and mental illness, and continue to feel. The following is her comment and my response.

“when I just feel so sick and tired of fighting for what seems like nothing…what seems like a never ending battle…what seems like someone hitting me over the head with a two-by-four every two minutes, telling me it will never stop until the day I die, and then they explaining to me why I should continue to fight to live for another 40 years.”

Yes. I know.

Fighting the Pain of Depression

We fight to the death for millimeters when we really need a mile. I know.

Fighting Suicide and Bipolar DisorderWhy should I continue to fight the pain of depression for another 40 years?

I have asked myself this question a thousand times. Why should I continue to fight the pain of depression?

I have pondered it. I have written about it. I have talked about it it. Believe me, I understand this question. Depression, suicide and I go way back.

I have no answer, no answer at all, but I can tell you this:

  • If, 12 years ago I had killed myself, I never would have experienced a skydive
  • If, 8 years ago I had killed myself, I would have never discovered I could write
  • If, 5 years ago I had killed myself, I never would have flown with the eagles in Venezuela
  • If, 2 years ago I had killed myself, I would never have helped all the people I have today

While sometimes I refuse to admit it, my work, my words, my effort matters.

Fighting Depression Matters

See, life is funny that way. You eke out a millimeter when you really need a mile, but sometimes that millimeter matters. To you. To others.

I despise being hit over the head with a 2 X 4 while downing pills, sticking to ridiculously strict schedules, seeing doctors and fighting to the death. Oh yes. I hate it.

And don’t get me wrong, I frequently want to give up. I frequently want to surrender to depression. I frequently want to end this fucking fight.

But all I can say is: your fight matters. Your millimeter matters.

Your comment here matters. To me. To others. That millimeter that you fought against depression for, mattered.

I do not know how to win the fight, but I do know, that for no reason I understand, the fight matters. It just does.

Suicide – Is This Depression The Last Depression?

→ February 4, 2011 - 5 Comments

One of the truly horrible things about a lifetime of bipolar, hypomania, depression and mental illness is that you’re always left wondering, is this depression the last depression? Is this my brain and my mind’s breaking point? Is this the depression I end with suicide?

Others Wonder if This is the Time You End Depression with Suicide

And worse, people around you, in idle moments, might wonder if this the last time they’ll have to hear you sobbing on the phone. Is this the last time they see your depression? Is this the last time they have to be scared for you?

Ah yes, a mental illness reality that is a treat for everyone.

this is the last depressionI Wonder About the Last Depression that Leads to Suicide

I do wonder about the depression that leads to suicide. I don’t tell anyone I wonder about this, and if they ask, I tell them not to worry (and they shouldn’t, there’s no point) and deftly assuage their concerns. I can do assuage fears; it’s one of my powers. If I did, in fact, kill myself tomorrow their worry today would have done nothing other than ruin their dinner. No need to do that.

The Idea of a Last Depression Troubles Me

And still, I find the idea of the last depression and the suicide troubling.[push]There is still some vague hope that refuses to die that I might actually do something useful with my existence. OK, I admit, it’s unlikely, like I said, it’s a vague hope. (Yes, I am aware that I’m useful here and there, but somehow between the crazy and the crazy meds, nothing feels meaningful.)[/push]

There really is no logical reason to stay alive, other than to say, perhaps, there will be plenty of time to be dead later, so there’s no point in speed up the process any.

There is a biological trait that all humans have, the desire to stay alive. Self-preservation, and then of course procreation, is the drive of all life. This is a biological necessity, obviously. Suicide is like a 12-car pile-up during the drive.

I mean if I plunked a bunch of life forms on a planet, I would make sure they had a vested interest in staying there too. After all, I did go to all the bother of putting them there in the first place.[pull]Yes, I’m aware people are built to prolong life, not to end life. It’s instinctual.[/pull]

Suicide is the opposite of this driving force, of our instincts.

(Of course, murder is pretty opposite too, and people do that all over the place.)

My Instincts Don’t Want Me To Die

This explains my illogical hesitation.

But people defy biological urges all the time. In fact, it’s pretty much what a society is designed to do. So even though surviving might be the most ingrained biological imperative, it certainly can be ignored. And no one ignores a biological imperative like me. I left my humanity in my other lifetime.

If you’re feeling like you might hurt yourself get help now. You are not alone. It gets better.

Author’s note: This is a piece of writing. Not to worry.

Suicide Self-Assessment Scale – How Suicidal Are You?

→ January 16, 2011 - 535 Comments

Suicide Self-Assessment Scale – How Suicidal Are You?

Just how suicidal are you? OK, admittedly, it’s probably not the best idea to fixate on this question, especially if you are depression or suicidal, but in point of fact “being suicidal” doesn’t mean just one thing. Being suicidal exists on a scale. But how does one quantify how suicidal you are?

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I Hate Everyone Who Isn’t Suicidal

→ June 21, 2010 - 5 Comments

Today I feel angry.

Really angry.

Today I feel that my mentally ill, depressed, bipolar life is inexorably unfair.

Today I hate everyone.

I Hate Everyone Who Isn’t Suicidal

Yes, I know, I’m supposed to be better than that. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to rise above that. Yes, I know that isn’t fair or particularly true. But I feel it anyway. You try being this depressed. You try being this suicidal. See how many people you hate.

You Want, You Desire, Something

What do you want? Chocolate cake? Sex? Sun? A promotion? A child? A new car? More friends? To lose weight? To not get a divorce? To nap? To write? To laugh? To watch the latest episode of Top Chef?

I hate you.

I Only Want to Die

I only want the one thing: to die. I only want the thing I can’t have. Or rather I can have it, any time, but others swear I shouldn’t have it, and if I have it, it’ll be the last thing I ever have.

I hate everyone else for getting to want something else. I hate everyone for not writing a suicide note. I hate everyone for not having to take 6 seemingly-ineffectual meds. I hate everyone who wants to live. You are all lucky. And blessed. And I hate you.

Self-Harm: Stabbing Yourself is Bad

→ May 28, 2010 - 13 Comments

Stabbing is bad. It just is. If you have to pick self-harm options between cutting, hitting, and stabbing, don’t pick stabbing.

Unless you’re trying to kill someone, in which case I think stabbing would be pretty good. And satisfying. I’m surprised more murderers don’t pick stabbing.

Anxiety, Impulse Control Self-Harm and Stabbing

I’m having anxiety issues. And impulse control issues. And stabbing issues. Well, that last one is really a function of the other two, but it’s an issue nonetheless.

I’ve always been attracted to stabbing. I think that’s because when you start wielding a blade with force, you can’t change your mind. And it’s so easy to did deep. And draw a lot of blood.

Stabbing and Scars

And as I considered stabbing, I also thought it had the advantage of leaving a minimal scar. You cut down, not across.

This turns out not to be the case. Stabbing doesn’t produce a large incision, but the one it does produce tends to gape and cause more scarring than you think. Just trust me. Don’t try it.

And so, as much as I like the force, and blood, and bruising associated with stabbing, I’ve really written it off as a self-harm method. Death method, probably decent, self-harm, not so much.

Anxiety and Self-Harm

Self-Harm, Stabbing is Bad

But as I’ve said, I’ve been having issues.

For whatever reason, for whatever cocktail, for whatever brain misfire, I seem to be turning in super-anxious-suicide-girl at night. Like, way more than usual. And on top of that there seems to be a real lack of impulse control on my part, last notably seen with the cutting of my wrist with broken glass.

Hitting is Bad Too

And so I had been hitting myself with a blunt object, went into the kitchen to cut up a yellow pepper, and then as I was removing the core I thought to myself, I wonder what it would be like if I hit myself with this knife. And then I just did. And then there was a lot of blood. I was standing next to the sink so I just tried to keep standing while the blood went down the drain.

It just kind of, happened. Like stubbing your toe. An accident.

And it’s fine. My arm is fine. There does seem to be some nerve damage going into my thumb, but it seems minor and may get better, I don’t know. This isn’t really my area of expertise.

Self-Harm Without Control is Really Bad

And I don’t know. It’s a scary thing. To do something, without intention. One of the problems is I really don’t care if I die. I mean, like, really don’t care. I’m so over it’s unbelievable. So when something pops into my head, whatever filter I did have doesn’t exist. So I just do it.

And then there’s the drinking. Crazy people shouldn’t drink. Crazy people on meds really shouldn’t drink. Crazy people on meds and tranquilizers really, really shouldn’t drink. But I feel so irreparably horrifically self-loathing and suicidal that I couldn’t care less that it’s a bad idea. I’ll take any idea at all that would mask the pain. Even a little.

Sigh. All roads lead to scar tissue.

Again, try not to worry, OK? You’re scared, I know. I am too. But there’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing I can do. I’m suppose to see my GP on Monday and maybe she’ll be able to get me in to see a psychiatrist. Of course the psychiatrist won’t have any answers so it’s a bit moot. More moot than usual. Ultra-moot. Now with more brightening power.

Depression: Silence of Being Ignored Feels Like Loss

→ May 14, 2010 - 6 Comments

This silence feels familiar. I despise the deafening, familiar sounds of silence. They terrify me. I suppose the silence strangles me. Strangled, alone, screaming.

I Hate Being Ignored

People who know me, know this about me. They know how much I hate being ignored. They know that when they don’t return my calls or my emails my mind riles in negative and catastrophic scenarios. People who actually like me don’t want to do that to me. It’s the depression. It turns the pain of being ignored up to unmanageable levels.

Of course, there aren’t many people left who actually like me. Or at the very least, they don’t treat me like they do. I don’t know what it takes to be treated with care and respect. Most people just don’t treat me that way. (And yes, there are exceptions.)

Being Ignored Feels Like Loss

To lose another person I love. To lose another person I thought loved me. Not only does it prove to me that no one really does love me, but it also proves that no one ever will. That I can never trust that anyone actually does. Even the people who say they do, can watch me slip, screaming into the worst deadly mire without even blinking.

And here’s the question I leave to you: how many emails from a suicidal girl would you ignore? Even if you didn’t like her. I mean, really.

(Upon pushing the publish button I actually did receive a 1-word email. Perhaps I’m not being ignored, I’m simply immensely unimportant. Sort of not news.)

People Who Attempt Suicide Don’t Want To Die

→ May 7, 2010 - 276 Comments

There are frequent reports that of the people who survive suicide attempts, they realized sometime after the pills, or the gun, or the jump, they didn’t want to die. This is obvious. No one wants to die. People who attempt suicide don’t want to die.  They want to be out of pain.

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