Although September was the official “Suicide Prevention Month”, I want to pass along some information I feel both compelled to share and do so in part as it relates to both survivors of childhood sexual abuse and any others who have been through trauma that has left them feeling as if there’s no hope.
At Together We Heal, one of our primary functions is to let fellow survivors know they are NOT ALONE. And since one of the many reasons leading to suicide is this feeling of hopelessness and/or abandonment, please read, take it to heart and share with others.
Let your friends, family and loved ones TRULY KNOW they are loved, appreciated and above all…they are NOT alone and help IS available.
Need help? In the U.S., call 800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
I read an article the other day from Ross Szaba, CEO of the Human Power Project. In it, he made some articulate points on this issue:
“Yesterday, the White House had a briefing on mental health and suicide prevention in honor of Suicide Prevention month. Advocates, professionals and organizations often use the words, “mental health,” in a way that assumes everyone knows what mental health is. Unfortunately, that’s not true. If we’re going to decrease stigma and have an honest conversation about mental health, then we need to take a step back and make sure all of us are on the same page.
Here are three things to clear up the confusion.
1. Mental Health is not having a mental illness.
Oftentimes when people hear the words mental health they only think of mental illnesses, celebrity breakdowns or worst-case scenarios. They do not think of healthy images. The word mental has a stigma attached to it that can immediately trigger scenes from horror movies, school shootings and epic celebrity breakdowns like Charlie Sheen, Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes or Lindsey Lohan.
However, mental health is not having a problem. It’s how you address all of the challenges in your life. It’s how you handle stress, break-ups, rejection, lack of sleep, loss and everything else. We need a clear definition of mental health as a baseline. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
2. Mental health is as important as physical health.
Teaching people solely about mental illnesses isn’t the best way to be preventative or proactive in preparing them for their lives. We need to teach mental health the same way we teach physical health. The education needs to start at the youngest age possible and carry through all levels of school.
When people are asked to describe physical health they use words like diet, exercise, muscles, CrossFit, yoga, Pilates, gluten-free, the Bar Method etc., (I live in LA) or any other description that implies taking care of yourself. Again, when people are asked to describe mental health they rarely use words that have a positive connotation.
Your brain is one of the most important parts of your body. You can exercise, develop and strengthen your brain as much as you do your body. There are obvious exercises like memory, crosswords and puzzles. Another thing you can do is to evaluate your coping mechanisms. People strengthen their muscles with exercise and stretching. You can strengthen your mental health by creating effective coping mechanisms.
3. Mental health is for everyone.
I give a lot of presentations about mental health. Not surprisingly, most of the presentations I give are mandatory, because what college student is sitting in his dorm room thinking, “I wish there were more mental health speakers coming to campus. I’m tired of going to parties and having fun.”
My favorite person in my audiences is the person who upon learning he is at a mental health presentation rationalizes it by thinking, “I’ll listen to this, so I know what to do for other people.” Balanced mental health is something all of us should have. I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with anger control problems and psychotic features. Someone else may only experience small levels of stress. In both of these cases our goal should be to have balanced mental health.
So in the immortal words of Oprah. You get mental health. You get mental health. You get mental health…”
Additionally, a colleague of ours, Claire Quiney, forwarded the following showing the warning signs, impact of, and putting in an easily understandable graphic why it’s so important for us to pay attention to this challenge faced by so many.
The graphic can be seen at its original location here:
But above and beyond all we’ve covered today, take home this point made by all the previous authors and contributors…If we will take just a moment to talk WITH those around us, we might be the one who stands between them and making this fateful decision. Please reach out to those you know and love! And as I say all the time…Together We Can Truly Heal!
Copyright © 2014 Together We Heal, Inc.
October 7, 2014 at 7:19 pm
Nice article! I agree suicide prevention does not end in September. Suicide prevention needs to be emphasized year round, especially in abuse victims. With the holidays approaching when many with depression get more depressed for whatever reason (missing deceased relatives, feeling lonely, etc.), those who know victims of abuse need to be more aware to look and listen for any indicators of suicidal ideation in these individuals. For those in recovery looking for a Christian perspective, I would like to add Scriptures that promote positive mental health:
Ephesians 4:23 encourages Christians to be “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (NKJV). How does one renew their mind? Consider the following Scripture:
Philippians 4:8 NKJV
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.”
Before closing I also want to comment on Philippians 3:13 NKJV “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”. This verse in not meant to imply a quick “forgive and forget” approach to past abuse. “A quick ‘forgive and forget’ mode encouraged by some does not lead to ultimate peace. The injury and its consequences must be acknowledged.”
“Recovery from any type of past abuse is similar to the grieving process depicted by Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 1:4, Nehemiah began his journey with weeping, mourning, fasting, and prayer, all key elements in the recovery process. Nehemiah 1:6 reveals how Nehemiah continued his journey with repentance for his sins and those of his people. Repentance involves breaking through denial, which many individuals prefer to live in after being abused.”
“Offering forgiveness does not condone the actions of the offender. Forgiveness acknowledges the complete work of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
I (Pam) have been in recovery for about 25 years for past abuse. God brought me from being an insecure, anxious victim to become a survivor, a mature child of King Jesus. I am now a Board Certified Christian Counselor. All of the above quotes are taken from my testimony available at the following link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140711175558-160061996–removing-the-debris-depression-to-deliverance?trk=prof-post. For more of my journey to wholeness, please feel free to read the linked article.