Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest Blogger: Family Struggles Lead to my Brother's Suicide.

I'm 24 I lost my brother and best friend on June 12 this year, only a few hours after my husband and kids left his house.

He was bullied our whole life by our dad and the last six years by our dad and girlfriend. The Friday before this Sunday our dads girlfriend tried to frame my brother for forgery because my dad wouldn't own up to giving him the check. My brother worked for my dad for three years before being fired and given that last paycheck.

My dad says he doesn't remember because a few weeks before he got drunk and wrecked his motorcycle and suffered brain injury's but was checked out early from the rehab center by the girlfriend because it cost to much money and then didn't allow my brother to speak to our father and it got to where my dad wouldn't speak to me if she was around.

I cut off contact (with my father) and my brother took his life instead of doing the same. My brother left behind a daughter and tons of people who loved him.

~Paige L.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Guest Blog: I Never Thought --- In loving memory of Brandy


I never thought I'd meet my best friend during inpatient treatment fighting
for our lives.
I never thought I'd find someone who would help me fight my demons while
they were fighting theirs.
I never thought I'd bury my best friend on my 18th birthday.
i never thought it'd be almost 10 years later and I've still not made sense
of why.

Brandy and i met at Texas Children's Hospital in early 2001 where we were
both being treated for severe eating disorders. While most of our days were
full of strictly monitored events, we became incredibly close during our
down time. We shared our life stories with each other, our dreams and goals,
what our lives were like back home (we lived 2 hours away from each other),
and what landed us with the life threatening eating disorders we were
fighting. While there were other patients in our group, it was Brandy and I
against the world. We WERE going to conquer the world once we got out of
the hospital.

We spend much of the following summer together - visiting each other at
home, going down to the bay, hanging at the beach, hanging out with our
friends and dreading the start of a new school year. i was going into my
senior year and Brandy her junior. we knew we'd both be busy with our
friends, school & activities, but promised to talk at least once a day.

September 17, 2001. I woke up this Monday morning super excited about this
week - i was turning 18 on Wednesday!!!! This day started like any other -
went to school, out to lunch with my group of girl friends, home to tackle
homework and hang out. Around dinner time, i get a call from Brandy!
yay!!!!! she was supposed to find out whether or not she had won class
treasurer so i was super exited to hear how her day went. "Hey girl!
So.....did ya win?!?!!!!!" Silence. Absolute silence. Silence for what
felt like years but I'm sure was just moments. Brandy's dad was on the
other line and very sternly (totally out of character) asks to speak with my
parents. My heart sank. I ran downstairs, handed my mom the phone, ran to
my dad and said "she's gone".

And she was.

My best friend was gone. My best friend had shot herself in the head and
was gone. Why? I'll never know. I still ask myself that question. I
still wonder why she didn't go to anyone or make any comments to set off any

I'll never forget my 18th birthday, sitting in the most beautiful Catholic
church looking up at her casket bawling ; at the cemetery as her casket was
lowered into the ground; as we just sat there in silence. My best friend
was gone. All of the hopes and dreams and goals she had set for
herself were no longer an option. Brandy had left so many people
heartbroken. Myself included.

This September 17 marks the 10th anniversary of Brandy's death. Not
something to celebrate. Every birthday of hers that passes makes me wonder,
"what could've been?", "where would she be?", "where would she be?", "what
would she be doing?", "WHY DID SHE LEAVE?!?!?"

I'll never know why my sweet friend left. To this day it pains me not
knowing why she left. My daughter is named after her & has Brandy's
pictures in her room. We were supposed to fight together. But clearly
Brandy had demons larger than any one of us knew of.

*SUICIDE IS NOT THE ANSWER*!!! There are so many people out there who care
and who want to help! I know that there are times when we all feel like
we're alone and that there's no good way out of this but THERE IS!!!! There
is life outside of this terrible black hole. Just know that you are not
alone. No matter what you're going through at a certain time, someone else
in the world is going through the same thing. Just reach out and ask for
help! People care! More than you'll ever know! There are far too many
resources out there and far too many people that care for you to just make
such a costly decision.

Two things that I'll end with -
Faith, Hope and Love (in the end, these three things matter most)
The sweetest things in life come to us through tears and pain.

You're more important than you think you are.

Friday, September 2, 2011

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept 10th, 2011


World Suicide Prevention Day is held on September 10th each year. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. Disseminating information, improving education and training, and decreasing stigmatization are important tasks in such an endeavour. The theme in 2011 is "Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies".

The themes of the last two years of the World Suicide Prevention Day have focussed on suicide prevention in different cultures across the world. This year's theme aims at raising awareness of the fact that all countries in the world are multicultural. Many countries harbour different minority groups, in the form of various indigenous and/or immigrant groups, refugees and/or asylum seekers. Some countries comprise many different ethnic groups due to artificial borders having been drawn by former colonial powers. This means that in all countries there are a variety of ethnic and religious groups living in the same society.

Multicultural societies require cultural sensitivity in all suicide prevention efforts. However, a common mistake is to treat culture as something objective that explains differences. When we find differences between cultural groups in a society, e.g. suicide rates and risk factors, we tend to explain these in terms of cultural differences. This can, however, conceal the real reasons for differences that may or may not have something to do with culture at all. Examples of other factors that may be important are unemployment, poverty, oppression, marginalisation, stigmatisation, or racism. Moreover, culture is not a static or measurable variable; rather culture describes the dynamics evolving in an interaction between individuals and their surroundings. So, at the same time as we need to be culturally sensitive and aware of potential cultural differences, we must not let "culture" overshadow other important factors that might be at play. Neither must we overlook similarities in our vigilance to find differences.

The WHO estimates that about one million people around the world die by suicide every year. However, many countries still lack reliable suicide statistics, and even countries with reliable statistics may lack knowledge about the magnitude of the problem in (some of) their minority populations. This knowledge might also be challenging to acquire due to stigma having a larger impact in various minority groups compared to the majority. Nevertheless, such information is needed. Some studies have shown that suicide rates among immigrants are more similar to the suicide rates of those in their original country compared to the new country in which they have settled. Other studies, however, show that this varies across country and subgroup. Therefore, we need to be careful about drawing universal conclusions.

Risk factors for suicide vary across cultural groups. Knowledge about common risk factors in a society often stems from research in majority populations. However, in a multicultural context we need to be aware that some risk factors may play different roles in the suicidal process as well as in suicide prevention for some minority groups compared to the majority population. For instance, risk factors for elderly men in the majority population may have little relevance for young immigrant girls. In addition, other factors that might have a different impact on minorities compared to the majority population are attitudes towards suicidal behaviour and suicidal people (e.g. taboo, stigma), religion and spirituality, and family dynamics (gender roles and responsibilities).

Studies have shown that stereotyping might be common in the health and social care system in dealing with minority groups. Therefore, we need to be careful to distinguish between how the rules and traditions of a cultural group define how members of that group may or should behave and how individuals from a cultural group actually do behave. We must not let stereotypes rule what we perceive or do. Some of the previous research reporting average values for immigrant groups or comparing heterogeneous groups of immigrants with the majority population in the country may contribute to such stereotyping in suicide prevention. However, it gives little meaning to compare the relatively homogeneous majority population in a small country such as, for instance, Norway, with Asian immigrants to this country since the latter group can comprise people from a vast number of very different countries, cultures and religions, as Asia stretches out from the Middle East to Siberia. In the health and social care system the individual must not be met as a representative of a cultural group, but be allowed to be themselves with their own beliefs, attitudes, understandings, thoughts, and knowledge.

Gender issues and racism in therapeutic settings are important to be aware of in multicultural societies. Use of interpreters in the health and social care system also requires special attention when a sensitive issue such as suicide is on the agenda. Often, minority populations in a community are small and interpreters are recruited from the same social circle as the client. If suicidality is particularly taboo or stigmatised in the minority group, it may be necessary to check the interpreters' attitudes towards suicidal behaviour and suicidal people because these might affect both what is being said by the client as well as what is translated and how by the interpreter.

National suicide prevention strategies have now been implemented in several countries, but not all of them reflect the fact that the country is comprised of various minority groups. The strategy/program is often aimed at the majority population and a specific cultural perspective or focus is missing. Strategies therefore may need revision with this in mind and countries still not having initiated suicide prevention efforts should integrate a cultural perspective from the start.

Even though suicide is a complex and multifactorial phenomenon with cultural differences, there are still some suicide prevention efforts that might have "universal" effect.

•Experiences of connectedness are important in the mental health and wellbeing of all people. Thus, communities that are well integrated and cohesive may be suicide preventive.
•Educating professionals of health and social services as well as communities in general about how to identify people at risk for suicide, encouraging those who need it to seek help, and providing them with needed and adequate help can reduce rates of suicide. These efforts require both cultural sensitivity and cultural competence.
•Methods of suicide vary across cultural contexts, but restricting access to whatever means are commonly employed has been found to be effective in reducing the number of suicides (e.g. safe storage of firearms, pesticides and medicines; restricting access to bridges and high rise buildings commonly used as jumping sites).
•Educating the media on how to report on suicide responsibly, and
•Providing adequate support for people who are bereaved by suicide.
Suicide prevention in multicultural societies needs to be targeted as a multidisciplinary effort. Effective suicide prevention involves a multifaceted and intersectoral approach to address the multiple pathways to suicidal behaviour in a socio-cultural context. People who can contribute to suicide prevention include, for instance, health and social care professionals, researchers, teachers, police, journalists, religious leaders, cultural leaders, politicians and community leaders, volunteers, and relatives and friends affected by suicidal behaviour. People also tend to open up to bartenders, hairdressers, and taxi drivers, among others. In short, suicide prevention is everybody's business, and thus everyone can contribute.



WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY, September 10th, is an opportunity for all sectors of the community - the public, charitable organizations, communities, researchers, clinicians, practitioners, politicians and policy makers, volunteers, those bereaved by suicide, other interested groups and individuals - to join with the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the WHO to focus public attention on the unacceptable burden and costs of suicidal behaviours with diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities.

Those activities may call attention to the global burden of suicidal behaviour, and discuss local, regional and national strategies for suicide prevention, highlighting cultural initiatives and emphasising how specific prevention initiatives are shaped to address local cultural conditions. Initiatives which actively educate and involve people are likely to be most effective in helping people learn new information about suicide and suicide prevention. Examples of activities which can support World Suicide Prevention Day include:

•Launching new initiatives, policies and strategies on World Suicide Prevention Day
•Holding conferences, open days, educational seminars or public lectures and panels
•Writing articles for national, regional and community newspapers and magazines
•Holding press conferences
•Placing information on your website and using the IASP World Suicide Prevention Day banner, promoting suicide prevention in one's native tongue (www.iasp.info/wspd/2011_wspd_banner.php)
•Securing interviews and speaking spots on radio and television
•Organizing memorial services, events, candlelight ceremonies or walks to remember those who have died by suicide
•Asking national politicians with responsibility for health, public health, mental health or suicide prevention to make relevant announcements, release policies or make supportive statements or press releases on WSPD
•Holding depression awareness events in public places and offering screening for depression
•Organizing cultural or spiritual events, fairs or exhibitions
•Organizing walks to political or public places to highlight suicide prevention
•Holding book launches, or launches for new booklets, guides or pamphlets
•Distributing leaflets, posters and other written information
•Organizing concerts, BBQs, breakfasts, luncheons, contests, fairs in public places
•Writing editorials for scientific, medical, education, nursing, law and other relevant journals
•Disseminating research findings
•Producing press releases for new research papers
•Holding training courses in suicide and depression awareness
•Becoming a Facebook Fan of the IASP (www.facebook.com/IASPinfo)
•Following the IASP on Twitter (www.twitter.com/IASPinfo), tweeting #WSPD or #suicide or #suicideprevention
•Creating a video about suicide prevention (/www.youtube.com/IASPinfo)
Lighting a candle, near a window, at 8 PM in support of: World Suicide Prevention Day, suicide prevention awareness, survivors of suicide and for the memory of loved lost ones.

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See the candles we have "lit" on our Facebook Page