My heart hurts after learning of a fellow firefighter who died by suicide yesterday. This one is especially painful to me because Ron Gebhart didn't want to die by suicide. He recognized the progressive illness that is suicide, and he aggressively sought help, and tried to battle it's relentless power. He attended classes to understand mental health and suicide. He reached out to others for help.
But, sadly, preventing suicide is not as easy as sharing lifeline numbers. Once one has traveled the deep dark path towards suicide, it tends to constantly rear her head in moments of stress. Each time, a little louder. Each time, it comes off the shelf a little quicker. Each time, its a little more scary.
The more suicide comes after it's victim, the more shameful those feelings become for that person, the harder it is to confront those feelings. The more humiliating/bothersome it feels to reach out for help. Nobody wants to feel like they're crying wolf.
But people shouldn't have to feel this way. We all must become more educated on this progressive illness, and on the fact that for some, it never goes away for good. To those who live with the constant struggle; they need to know that they're not a burden, that they're not damaged, that they can continue to cope, and hopefully can continue to share their struggle with others that truly care about them.
To anybody who has ever struggled with thoughts of suicide. Take a moment and think of three people you can call, and write those names and numbers down. Call those people! Try to seek them out in advance. S***, call me. I promise I get, it and ill listen to you.
And if you think you're alone in this struggle, you're not. 33% of people will have suicidal ideations in their life and 50% of people will suffer from some sort of mental health disorder in their lifetime. If you're a firefighter and you experience sleep disruptions or sleep disorders, your percentages are going to be higher.
I've looked, and I don't know how, but we've got to figure out how to combat suicide.
"Suicide stems from mental disorders, mental disorders are treatable, and suicide is preventable. Like natural disasters and cancer, mental disorders are forces of nature, and mental disorders are particularly insidious ones in that they can be invisible to others. That forces of nature like this sometimes kill people should come as no surprise, and to in any way blame family members for a suicide, or for family members to blame themselves, makes as much sense as blaming them for deaths stemming from earthquakes or from pancreatic cancer. Finally, to intimate that one should be open about suicidality but not about its connection to mental disorders is not just ironic but also misinformed and is further unfair to nonsuicidal people with mental disorders (Joiner, 2017)." I would add to this quote, and to blame the person, makes just as much sense as blaming them for dying of CHF, Cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.