Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Need To Talk

An Open Conversation About Suicide

“We need to talk”



"Heavy, but okay... I’m listening”

“Good ...did you know that the brain is an organ, just like the liver, kidneys, or gall bladder, AND if a vital organ get sick, and is left untreated, it can result in death.”

“Okay, that makes”

“Well, mental illness is a disease of the brain - 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia. By 2020, behavioral health disorders will surpass all physical disease.”

“Okay, I’m still listening…tell me more”

“Stigma and lack of understanding are the main reasons mental illness remains a topic we avoid. People suffering from this illness fear people will think they’re weak, or crazy, or both!"

“I don’t feel that way”

“Good ... something as simple as engaging in conversation has a major impact in reducing the stigma. The more people hear that you’re open, aware and listening, the more hope we give to people living with mental illness."

"Alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV and AIDS are medical conditions that were previously associated with a weakness or character flaws. Today, they are widely recognized as medical diseases and are openly discussed.”

“I remember when cancer was only referred to as the BIG C.”

“EXACTLY! Breast cancer is a perfect example of a medical illness that went unspoken for years...but today, thanks to breast cancer advocates, millions of dollars have been raised to aid in research, support programs and awareness."

“What are the risk factors to suicide?”

“These might sound pretty random but they include:

• alcohol or drug abuse, especially when combined with depression.

• genetic predisposition which includes a family history of suicide, suicide attempts, depression or other  psychiatric illness.

• post-traumatic stress disorders or some other form of anxiety disorder.

• bulimia or anorexia

• personality disorders

• childhood trauma or abuse

• chronic physical pain, and major physical illness

“Is that the same as warning signs?"

“No – warning signs put someone in immediate danger. It’s important to be aware of the signs so I’ll list some of them:

• Ideation - thinking, talking or wishing about suicide

• Substance use or abuse - also increased use or change in substance

• Purposelessness and hopelessness

• Extreme, irrational rage

• Withdrawal  - from family, friends, work, school, activities, hobbies

• Anxiety - restlessness, irritability, agitation

• Recklessness - high risk-taking behavior

• Mood disturbance - dramatic changes in mood

It’s important to remember that a suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional. Remember…their brain is sick and they need help, just as a person who is suffering from any other serious illness would need help.”

“If someone is feeling depressed does that mean they might kill myself?”

"Are you feeling depressed?"

"Sometimes, but its not a big deal"

“Hey, I'm here for you and I will do everything I can to help.  Each person experiences depression in their own way. One person might sleep a lot, another not enough. Some people don’t eat and others overeat. Depression is a common but serious medical condition.  It can be overwhelming and interfere with your ability to function, but it doesn’t have to be terminal.

If you’re suffering from depression, there are things you can do to help improve the way you feel including lifestyle choices, antidepressant medication, holistic and western medicine, yoga and meditation, and talk therapy - but it’s important that you don’t ignore it.”

“I know someone who killed themselves and I still don’t understand.”

“60% of the population knows someone who completed suicide.  It’s hard to make sense of it if you haven’t been there yourself. Good, kind, loving, sensitive, creative, intelligent people crippled by the physical pain of their mental illness, dive into a state of hopelessness that defies all logic.”

“Its been in the news a lot lately - former "Growing Pains" actor 41-year-old Andrew Koenig, 40-year-old fashion designer Alexander McQueen and Michael Blosil the teenage son of singer Marie Osmond all took their lives within weeks of each other.”

“It’s an epidemic. More people die by suicide then accidents, homicide and war combined. Worldwide, suicide ranks among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 years and is the second leading cause of death among college students. Six deaths by suicide took place at Cornell University in the past three months." 

"I had no idea how wide spread it was."

"You're not alone.  That's why we needed to talk."

If you or someone you know is feeling 
desperate, alone or hopeless 
call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone
in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

A film called ‘My Suicide – A Self Inflicted Comedy’ is due to be released in the fall of 2010. It will bring the realities of suicide, sex, cyber bullying, drugs, money and all the stresses that bombard teenagers, bravely into focus.

Although I don’t agree with a lot of the stereotypes the movie conveys, it creates an open dialogue and this is critical to reducing the stigma.

Issues of medical illnesses and suicide face huge obstacles in funding, support and awareness, but progress is being made, and YOU can help.

Let’s keep talking about it. With awareness, education, and treatment, suicide can be prevented.

Reach out, speak out, hold on.

Green Monkey Tales © 2010 Shannon E. Kennedy

Stats and Facts on suicide and suicide prevention were compiled from:

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
SAVE - Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
National World Health Organization

photo's courtesy of:
Goggle Images
My Suicide - A Self Inflicted Comedy
Shannon Kennedy

I was grieving for one, 
but there are hundreds of thousands I now mourn for.


  1. Hey, Shannon--
    Thank you for posting that.

  2. A woman on a mission. Good information.

  3. I'm stopping by from SITS. Thanks for sharing this vital information. My daughter is a happy-go-lucky toddler now, but depression runs in our family and I would hate to miss any sign as she grows older. Thank you for being an activist for this important cause.

  4. Jeez, I almost called the hotline right then and there...childhood abuse, family hx, alcohol abuse, chronic depression...thanks Shannon. Great share, and very informative.


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison