Saturday, December 19, 2020

Is Suicide Preventable? (Short Answer: YES)

As I wind up my latest book project, I thought it might be a good time to share an interview of sorts I did a few months ago. I was asked to answer the question “Is suicide preventable?” in three sentences. Can such a question be answered in three sentences‽ Actually, it can be answered with one word: Yes. I elaborated on that word with three sentences that I hope are helpful to somebody.

Fortunately, the rest of the article was a bit longer, so there is plenty for you to read. Kate Haldeman tackled some of the typical stigmas of which depressives encounter. People mean well, but sometimes their advice does more harm than good. Ms. Haldeman addressed every negative word of “encouragement” you could imagine, from telling people to “get over it” to telling depressives to work harder at being happy. I liked her alternative questions. I hope that people who need to learn these tips find her article.

There is no perfect way to respond to everybody’s depression. Each response needs to be tailored to the individual. For example, I don’t mind the concept that we have to work hard to be happy, but words have nuances. Telling somebody they have to work hardER at being happy is a judgement on their efforts. You can commiserate that it is hard work being happy, or that we must work hard to be happy because depression robs us of our quality of life, but to command a depressive to work harder at being happy, even in jest, is to dismiss their struggle offhandedly. Would you tell somebody with a broken ankle to try harder to run? No, of course not. You would find a way to assist them. Mental health is no different.

I know a former bishop of mine who will ask me how I’m doing when we bump into each other around town, and when I tell him about my blog or book successes, he’ll either change the subject or tell me I need to stop letting my disability define me. I’m sure he means well, but since I don’t recall him ever taking time to find out how my disability affected me in the first place, his advice is useless to me. Ms. Haldeman’s article tackles this kind of misfire in her article, “7 Things People Don’t Understand About Depression”. I invite you to give it a read.