"Survivors Of Suicide Loss" Meetings
♦ Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church
1801 Montano Rd NW, Albuquerque ♦
1st Monday September 5th and 3rd Monday September 19th
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♦ Rust / Presbyterian Medical Center
2400 Unser Blvd SE, Rio Rancho ♦
2nd Monday September 12th and 4th Monday September 26th
" SHARING AND HEALING "
A NEWSLETTER FOR SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS
Written & Edited by : Al & Linda Vigil
Over the years I have watched broken people come through the doors of our Survivors of Suicide Loss support group, (SOSL.) Al and I try to welcome each and everyone, giving them a ‘New-Comer' folder and reaching out, trying to connect with them on personal level. The folder has so much literature, that they look at us like "...do you really expect me to read all this? Does this really matter?"
We explain to them what information we need and why. They are so truly broken. They are looking for answers —their biggest question is ...WHY? And they question how they can go on? They believe that they will never be happy or normal again. Then the tears flow from newly broken people.
They never realized how many tears a person could cry in a twenty-four hour period.
The all consuming anguish we survivors experience in the early days, weeks, months, and even years of our loss —eventually gentles into manageable sorrow. Although we never "get over it."
We do get on with "it" and we can find a new normal in our forever changed life.
We have come to understand that the relationship we had with the loved one we lost by suicide did not end at the grave or the cremation. The connections and impacts go on forever. Some of our survivors attend many months ...some for several years. They attend and listen to the many, many stories, and they share their own story ...over and over again, with the group. They have found more people sharing their grief journey, than they dreamed possible, and with time, they begin to act as a peer facilitators. They share more deeply with others that they can relate too. They begin to see how their shared experience could help others. They find that it is truly a privilege to be a participant on the most intimate, most sacred exchange of human emotion imaginable —grief. Every one is changed and healed by it.
Graces that happen in that environment are beyond words. We can choose to help alleviate suffering any way or place we can. That is what SOSL is about. By attending meetings and doing everything we can do to preserve our mental and emotional health. So we can help others that are walking the same path of healing.
We cannot thank survivors enough for stepping up and helping us out with leadership, concern, and the deepest caring for our ‘new' broken survivors who walk through the doors of SOSL, looking for ways to go on with their lives. And yes, get on with their new journey and with their choice to find a new normal and a choice to be happy again.
— In Sharing and Healing : Linda V.
Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger —if we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats. Often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal fears can be the best way to move past them."
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The (Only) 5 Fears We All Share : By Karl Albrecht Ph.D
President Franklin Roosevelt famously asserted, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."
I think he was right: Fear of fear probably causes more problems in our lives than fear itself. That claim needs a bit of explaining, I know.
Fear has gotten a bad rap among most human beings. And it's not nearly as complicated as we try to make it. A simple and useful definition of fear is: An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.
Medical experts tell us that the anxious feeling we get when we're afraid is a standardized biological reaction. It's pretty much the same set of body signals, whether we're afraid of getting bitten by a dog, getting turned down for a date, or getting our taxes audited.
Fear, like all other emotions, is basically information. It offers us knowledge and understanding—if we choose to accept it—of our psychobiological status.
And there are only five basic fears, out of which almost all of our other so-called fears are manufactured. These five are:
EXTINCTION—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is a more fundamental way to express it than just calling it "fear of death." The idea of no longer being arouses a primary existential anxiety in all normal humans. Consider that panicky feeling you get when you look over the edge of a high building.
MUTILATION—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure; the thought of having our body's boundaries invaded, or of losing the integrity of any organ, body part, or natural function. Anxiety about animals, such as bugs, spiders, snakes, and other creepy things arises from fear of mutilation.
LOSS OF AUTONOMY—THE fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control. In physical form, it's commonly known as claustrophobia, but it also extends to our social interactions and relationships.
SEPARATION —the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else. The "silent treatment," when imposed by a group, can have a devastating psychological effect on its target.
EGO-DEATH —the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the Self; the fear of the shattering or disintegration of one's constructed sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.
From the - Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation
What to Do If You Someone You Know is Depressed or Suicidal
Suicide isn't just an ugly word. For those who have loved ones who are depressed and suicidal, it can be terrifying. It is a global problem, as each year more than a million people die by suicide. That's one suicide every 19 seconds.
And the problem is only getting worse, as over the last 45 years the worldwide suicide rates have increased by 60%. The US isn't spared from this problem at all. The most recent CDC data reveals that in 2012, about 40,600 cases of suicide were reported.
In addition, the problem isn't limited to just one age group. While the highest suicide rates were among the people from 45 to 59 years old, it is also an existing problem among the youth. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24, and the #3 cause of death for kids age 12 to 18 as well as college-age adults.
In fact, if you combine the number of fatalities brought on by AIDS, cancer, birth defects, heart disease, chronic lung disease, influenza, pneumonia, and stroke, it is still less than the number of fatalities caused by suicide.
. . . . . SOME WARNING SIGNS . . . . .
But for many of us, suicide is not a statistical situation. This is especially true if you have a suicidal son or suicidal daughter, or if you have a suicidal friend. It's a deeply personal issue, and of course you want to help.
If your child is beset by depression or if you have a depressed friend, it's only natural for us to be concerned and worried about our loved one.
Here are some warning signs to look out for :
1. They talk about taking their own life. This in itself is enough for you to be very concerned.
2. They take unnecessary risks or repeatedly engage life threatening activities, such as abusing drugs or driving recklessly.
3. They harm themselves, such as cut themselves or bang their heads against the wall.
4. They talk to other people in such a way as if they won't see them ever again.
5. Perhaps they may even engage in rather indirect conversation that's vaguely suicidal. For example, they may wonder aloud if you'll miss them when they're' gone, or if suicide is wrong or painful.
6. They're getting their affairs in order, such as giving away their wealth and possessions.
7. They actively procure the items they need to commit suicide, such a gun or hoard dangerous pills.
8. They suddenly stop seeing or talking to other people and withdraw from their social circles.
9. You notice that they exhibit extreme mood swings, such as being enthusiastic one day and then extremely down the next day.
10. Their sleeping and eating patterns have drastically changed.
What You Can Do
It's a natural thing to want to help your suicidal friend or suicidal son or daughter. Actually, your help is essential and could very well save their life.
If you're concerned because you have noticed at least one of the warning signs of suicide in your loved one, you should not simply ignore your fears and hope you're wrong.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO ?
If you're not sure of what to do, or if you think you need to do something immediately, then you need to get some professional help. You can call 911, or you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
It's alright to call for help even if you think you're over your head. Not everyone is cut out to provide the kind of help that a depressed friend needs.
In fact, you should call a professional even if you think you can handle the matter yourself. For things like this, the opinions of a trained professional can't hurt.
You can also talk to your suicidal daughter or son, by asking direct questions. Ask them about what's bothering them, and you can even ask directly if they're contemplating suicide.
When they speak, your job is to listen to them—as in really listen. Don't rush, don't cut them off, and don't say anything judgmental.
You're talking to them because you care, and that's what you need to let them understand.
And when they talk, all you can do is offer support and sympathy. Don't try to berate them for having these suicidal feelings, don't say it's a sin, and don't give advice or offer ways of solving their problems.
As a friend or family member, you have two responsibilities. You can offer sympathy and concern, and at the same time you should talk to a real professional who can advise you on what to do, depending on the circumstances.
By Sarah McAfee
Two weeks before my oldest cousin's twenty-third birthday, he shot and killed himself. It scarred our family. The kind of jagged, gnarled scar, like a poorly-filled pothole, that—even though it's been nearly twenty years—you still run your fingers across from time to time and feel the sting of a fresh wound.
We weren't all that close, but as a 14-year-old, sorting through my own perceptions of self-worth and fears about the future at the time of his death, I felt it very deeply. It was the first time a loved one of mine had committed suicide, but it would not be the last. Not even close.
I want to talk about guns. It's controversial, fraught with partisan politics, and the conversation always seems to focus on the fringe issues. We argue about whether we need armed employees at schools or campus gun bans, but the number of deaths from school shootings is very, very small compared to the total number of gun-related deaths (although we all believe the number should be zero). We argue about ways to fix the mental health care system so we keep guns out of the wrong hands, but the connection between mental illness and violence is weak (although we all believe the mental health care system absolutely needs improvement). Those are not the issues I want to talk about (today, at least).
Personal experience always trumps rhetoric, so for me, when I think about guns, it is suicide and its impact on families and communities that weighs on my mind. Unlike the other gun issues we debate, this one is, statistically, the biggest issue related to guns in the US: Americans are far more likely to kill themselves than each other. In 2012, nearly two-thirds of all firearm deaths were suicides, and the number is rising. In fact, firearm homicides have been decreasing since 2006, despite the proliferation of media attention the issue is currently receiving.
Suicide is unquestionably a mental health problem, and an especially big problem in western states like Colorado. But it's a gun problem, too. Of all those who attempt suicide, 9% die; of those who attempt suicide with a gun, 85% die. According to the CDC, more than half of suicide deaths involved firearms—over 21,000 in 2013. That's about the same as the number of deaths from Leukemia each year, and at that scale, it's hard to deny that guns are a public health issue.
Furthermore, the hard truth is that simply having a firearm in your house increases the likelihood of death by suicide for every member of your household, in the same way that smoking around your family increases everyone's chances of dying from lung cancer. Without banning cigarettes and shutting down manufacturers, we've still managed to significantly reduce their negative effects on the general population. If we're willing to have a thoughtful, civil discussion around how we limit exposure of vulnerable populations to guns, one that recognizes that there isn't a single solution, but that we need a multi-faceted, commonsense approach, then we can make progress on this issue, too.
I want our leaders and our country to keep talking about guns, because we haven't found our common ground yet. I want our communities to talk about public safety, crime, and individual liberties, but not let fear guide our policymaking. And, I want us all to talk about the lives that are at stake, and the loved ones we've lost. Suicide has always been a taboo way to die—a cause of death that's quietly left out of obituaries—and access to a gun facilitates it. The human cost of our silence is too great; so let's talk about it.
For David, and all the others.
Palo Alto Youth : Investigation after Five Teens
Kill Themselves in Just over a Year
Since October 2014, five high school students or recent graduates in Palo Alto, California have committed suicide. Another six teens killed themselves from 2009 to 2010 Investigators with the CDC will be arriving in Palo Alto this week to investigate the two suicide clusters. Most of the victims killed themselves by jumping in front of trains.
Numerous news reports have pegged the town's over achieving culture as a possible cause for the string of tragedies. Prestigious Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, and the town is home to many employees at Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook.
A team of mental health experts from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is scheduled to be in California this week to investigate a series of suicides by teenagers in the affluent university town of Palo Alto.
Santa Clara County officials took the unusual step of inviting the CDC to do an epidemiological study on the teen suicide problem that has anguished Palo Alto parents, teachers and young people for at least seven years, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The team, which includes representatives from both the CDC and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has spent the last three months working with the county Public Health Department to gather data on suicides, suicide attempts and suicidal behavior among Santa Clara County youth.
Starting Tuesday, its members plan to spend two weeks on the ground meeting with local doctors and community leaders, according to the Mercury News. Their research also will include evaluating existing suicide prevention programs, reviewing media coverage of the teen suicides and identifying the factors that might put Palo Alto's youth at greater risk, CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard told the newspaper.
Six teenagers from Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University, killed themselves in 2009 to 2010 events that triggered public forums, peer-run support groups and police patrols at the commuter train tracks where some of the young people ended their lives.
Yet five more teens committed suicide in 2014/15. From 2010 through 2014, an average of 20 minors and young adults a year died by suicide in Santa Clara County as a whole. Palo Alto officials asked the state and county to request the CDC evaluation after hearing of a suicide assessment the agency conducted last year in Fairfax, Virginia, where 85 people between the ages of 10 and 24 killed themselves in a five-year period.
The Fairfax County study concluded that among the possible risk factors facing young people there were an inadequate number of school counselors, stigma and denial around mental illness, pressure to excel academically and bullying through social media. A preliminary report on the situation in Palo Alto is expected to be completed soon after the site visit. The worrying trend of suicides first gripped the Palo Alto community in 2009, when five teens in less than a year killed themselves by jumping in front of oncoming trains.
The first in the string of suicides was 17-year-old Jean-Paul Blanachard, who attended Gunn High School. His mother said in 2014 that he may have had an untreated mental disorder. Blanchard's death was followed a month later by the death of 17-year-old Sonya Raymakers, who killed herself in her final week of high school. She had been accepted to NYU.
In August of that year, the youngest victim took her life, 13-year-old Catrina Holmes who was set to start at Gunn just four days later. According to her father, she left behind a suicide note saying she hated the 'b****y community' at her middle school.
SUICIDE and RELIGION
By Harold G. Koenig, MD
Suicide is not a popular topic that most people are anxious to read about. However, it is a serious problem, is commonly associated with depression, and often occurs when depression treatments fail. This article focuses on this most feared consequence of depression (although often not feared by the person overwhelmed with hopelessness). The atheist Nietzsche, known for his famous quote "God is dead," wrote that "The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night." The pain of depression and a meaningless life is sometimes so great that the only hope of ever escaping the horrible feelings lies in the possibility of ending life itself, and for those like Nietzsche, the thought of ceasing to exist is more bearable than continuing on in this emotional state. How is religious involvement related to suicide or feelings about suicide?
Before answering that question, however, I'd like to provide the reader with a little background on suicide. Every year in the United States about 35,000 people die from suicide. This is probably an underestimate since people kill themselves in many ways not reported as suicide, such as car accidents or simply failing to take life-saving medication. Even though underreported, suicide is still the 4th leading cause of death for those aged 18 to 65 in the U.S. The yearly suicide rate in this country is 11 per 100,000, which is the same as it was in 1902 despite the emergence of modern treatments. Each day nearly 2,300 persons attempt suicide and 90 of those individuals are successful. The rate of suicide is highest in adults over age 75, probably due to difficulty coping with the loss of loved ones, health, and independence associated with advancing age.
Depression is the most common cause of suicide, but there are other factors that also play a role: anger, need for control, and impulsiveness; social isolation; alcohol and drug abuse; and certain medications, including antidepressants in adolescents or young adults and narcotic pain killers in middle-aged and older adults. Chronic medical illness increases the risk of suicide, especially in diseases associated with moderate or severe pain, urinary incontinence, seizure disorder, or severe physical disability. Genetic factors may also play a role, as the latest research is beginning to discover.
Cultural risk factors for suicide include the stigma associated with seeking help, barriers to getting adequate mental health care, media exposure to suicide, and believing that suicide over personal problems is acceptable. In Asian families and other groups, factors influencing suicide include attitudes towards a woman's role in marriage, dominance of extended family systems, and family loyalty overriding individual concerns. Although all major religions condemn suicide for emotional or personal reasons, they are not all equal in this regard. Religions with strong prohibitions against suicide are Islam, Judaism, and Christianity (especially Catholics and conservative Protestants). While the Eastern religions Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Hinduism generally oppose suicide, they are more accepting of it than Western religions. In Buddhism, for example, while suicide is discouraged for those who are unenlightened, once enlightenment has been achieved, it may be permissible under certain circumstances. Likewise, although Hinduism condemns suicide in general as an escape from life and cause for bad karma, self-willed death may be allowed through fasting in terminal disease or severe disability (called "prayopavesa").
Religious beliefs and practices may influence suicide risk not only because they forbid it, but also because of their relationship to psychological, social, behavioral, and physical factors that lead to suicide. Since religious involvement is associated with better school performance, greater conscientiousness, improved coping with stressful life events, less depression, faster recovery from depression, and is a source of hope and meaning, it could reduce suicide through these pathways. Furthermore, loneliness and lack of support are strong predictors of suicide particularly among women, and involvement in a faith community may help to increase social support and neutralize social isolation. Likewise, since alcohol and drug abuse are frequently involved in suicide attempts and completed suicide and religious involvement is related to less alcohol and drug use, this is another way that suicide may be prevented. Finally, one of the strongest risk factors for suicide is poor health and physical disability. If religious persons drink less alcohol, use fewer drugs, smoke fewer cigarettes, and engage in healthier behaviors, then physical health may also better and diseases that increase suicide risk fewer.
Although the above logic seems rational, what does objective, systematic research find with regard to the relationship between religion and suicide? Among studies that have compared different denominations, more studies find that Catholics are at lower risk for suicide than studies that find Protestants at lower risk, although may of those studies were done prior to the year 1990. Jews have a suicide risk neither greater nor less than Christians or other groups. Studies on Muslims have found a lower suicide risk compared to other groups, although reporting bias may have been an issue. Overall, then, Catholics have a slight advantage over other denominations within Christianity, although denomination tells us very little about a person's risk for suicide.
What about the relationship between suicide and religiousness or religiosity? Does the intensity or degree of religious belief/practice make a difference? In our systematic review of the research published in the Handbook of Religion and Health, Second Edition (Jan/Feb 2012 forthcoming), we identified 141 studies that measured religiousness and correlated it with suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide. Three-quarters (106 of 141) found less suicidal thoughts and behaviors among those who were more religious. Furthermore, there is every reason to think that religious interventions in religious patients at risk for suicide may help to lower the risk; however, since no clinical trials have examined this possibility, these interventions should be administered with caution (and should not replace traditional psychiatric care). Furthermore, while religious beliefs and practice may help to prevent suicide in laypersons, it may be a different story in clergy. When clergy become severely depressed or hopeless, suicide risk may be quite high and the need for professional treatment urgent.
Suicide Rate Again on the Increase
- Surges to a 30-Year High -
By SABRINA TAVERNISE NY Times APRIL 2016
WASHINGTON — Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults. The rise was particularly steep for women. It was also substantial among middle-aged Americans, sending a signal of deep anguish from a group whose suicide rates had been stable or falling since the 1950s.
The suicide rate for middle-aged women, ages 45 to 64, jumped by 63 percent over the period of the study, while it rose by 43 percent for men in that age range, the sharpest increase for males of any age. The overall suicide rate rose by 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The increases were so widespread that they lifted the nation's suicide rate to 13 per 100,000 people, the highest since 1986. The rate rose by 2 percent a year starting in 2006, double the annual rise in the earlier period of the study. In all, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014, compared with 29,199 in 1999.
From 1999 to 2014, suicide rates in the United States rose among most age groups. Men and women from 45 to 64 had a sharp increase. Rates fell among those age 75 and older.
"It's really stunning to see such a large increase in suicide rates affecting virtually every age group," said Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser for health care at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who has identified a link between suicides in middle age and rising rates of distress about jobs and personal finances.
Researchers also found an alarming increase among girls 10 to 14, whose suicide rate, while still very low, had tripled. The number of girls who killed themselves rose to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999. "This one certainly jumped out," said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the center and an author of the report.
American Indians had the sharpest rise of all racial and ethnic groups, with rates rising by 89 percent for women and 38 percent for men. White middle-aged women had an increase of 80 percent. American Indians had the sharpest rise of all racial and ethnic groups, with rates rising by 89 percent for women and 38 percent for men. White middle-aged women had an increase of 80 percent.
The rate declined for just one racial group: black men. And it declined for only one age group: men and women over 75.
The data analysis provided fresh evidence of suffering among white Americans. Recent research has highlighted the plight of less educated whites, showing surges in deaths from drug overdoses, suicides, liver disease and alcohol poisoning, particularly among those with a high school education or less. The new report did not break down suicide rates by education, but researchers who reviewed the analysis said the patterns in age and race were consistent with that recent research and painted a picture of desperation for many in American society.
Boy - 'Driven to Suicide by Bullies'
By JAMES TOZER, Daily Mail
A distraught mother has claimed that her 11-year-old son was driven to suicide by bullies at his school. Thomas Thompson took an overdose of painkillers after other pupils picked on him because he was clever and well-spoken, she said. Sandra Thompson found her son in his bedroom when she returned home from work in the evening. Her partner, Geoff Clarke, tried to resuscitate the youngster while paramedics were called, but he had suffered a fatal heart attack. Thomas is believed to be the youngest child to take his own life because of alleged bullying.
Coming so soon after similar cases, his death will add fuel to the debate over what to do about the bullying problem. Miss Thompson, a shop assistant, said her son's ordeal began at Riverside Primary School near their home in Wallasey, England.
It was thought the situation might have eased last September when he started his secondary education at Wallasey School in nearby Moreton, but the bullying continued. His 33-year-old mother, who also has an eight-year-old daughter, Alexandra, said: "He told me how they got at him every day - trying to strangle him with his tie, poking him.
"It was like torture. They'd call him names like 'gay boy' and 'fatso'. He didn't really fit in with other boys his age. He was extremely clever and loved reading and doing his schoolwork. So they teased and tormented him relentlessly - just because he was a bit different. These bullies killed my son."
Thomas frequently missed classes. On the day of his death, he had got off the school bus to escape the bullies. Miss Thompson said she had spoken to Thomas's teachers, but the school claimed the only reported incident had been at a bus stop and involved children from another school.
Wallasey School headmaster Martin Pope said: "There is absolutely no record of the child reporting bullying within the school. We saw no evidence of Thomas being treated differently by other pupils." Describing him as an "extremely intelligent boy", he added: "The whole school has been deeply shocked and saddened by Thomas's death." Wirral Council said the school's commitment to eradicating bullying is widely admired and this made Thomas's death particularly sad.
But Dr Michele Elliott, director of child protection group Kidscape, said: "Thomas's death is a terrible waste of a life. At 11 years old, he should have been living a carefree life and looking forward to the summer holidays. "The bullies apparently responsible for his death, and anyone who stood by and watched it happen passively, should be punished."
Last month 16-year-old Karl Peart took an overdose of painkillers after suffering what his family called a lifetime of bullying.
Two weeks later, Gemma Dimmick, a 15-year-old at the same school - Hirst High, in Ashington, Northumberland - also committed suicide. Relatives claimed she too had been bullied. Also last month, nine-year-old Jessica O'Connell's parents revealed the diary she kept of her suffering at St Wilfred Roman Catholic School in Ripon, North Yorkshire, as she was driven to the brink of suicide by bullies.
SURVIVORS OF SUICIDE LOSS - NEW MEXICO
A SUPPORT GROUP FOR THOSE WHO HAVE LOST
SOMEONE THEY LOVE BY SUICIDE
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TWO MEETINGS EACH MONTH
1st and 3rd MONDAY
7:00 - 8:30 p. m.
SHEPHERD OF THE VALLEY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
1801 MONTAÑO RD. NW - ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87107
Al & Linda at 505 / 792-7461
"Know That You Are Not Alone
— Sharing Can Be Healing"
Sharing and Healing is © by SOSL-NM
Non-Profit : #NM ID 4996054
Non-Profit : FED : 501-c-3