A Better Suicide Prevention Month

CW: Cynical Warning.

Anybody else cringe all through Suicide Prevention Day/Week/Month? Anybody else roll their eyes at the "Ask for Help" messages? Or search the lists of "Warning Signs" to make sure you're covering your tracks?

Are you a potential helper and confused by that paragraph? Did you design this poster? Let me explain it to you. The psychiatrist doesn't accept your insurance. The psychiatrist who does accept your insurance doesn't treat your issue. There isn't a psychiatrist. The therapist is available six weeks from now. Or later. What's the point of therapy anyway, the therapist isn't going to pay your rent, if you could make rent you could manage your mental illness just fine, thank you very much.

If you call a help line, what if the cops arrive to handcuff you in front of your neighbors to help you enjoy your free trip to the ER? That's the only thing that will be free. If you go to the ER, you may or may not be admitted. Either way, the bill will leave you homeless.

When the naive, new-to-the-world-of-suicide-prevention person actually asks for help and goes through the demeaning process of not receiving it, it's like that outstretched hand, the one on top, turns around and pushes down the head of the one who has been reaching up.

Now look at this poster carefully. It claims to be addressed to the suicidal person. Your story isn't over yet... Speak up. But read the topics covered. The role of depression. Warning signs, risks, and stressors. Protective factors. Resources and tools for communication. Are any of them addressed to the suicidal person? No, they are not. This is not a conference designed for suicidal persons. It is designed for would-be suicide preventers. Whose story isn't over yet?

This will be a theme. There will be youtubes posted of somebody tackling that suicidal person on the edge of the subway track, pushing him back from the edge. I suppose this youtube encourages people to keep their eyes open in subway stations, ready to prevent a suicide.

I'm glad his life was saved. Truly I am. When I am on the edge, will I make sure a would be hero is standing by, or will I wait until I am alone?

And now to those risk factors and warning signs. Really, risk factors have nothing to do with prevention. They are about who do you (the nonsuicidal person) need to keep an eye on? That's such a warm fuzzy feeling, you know, being scrutinized. Nobody is watching the bully in school. They are watching the victim. It's the victim who is at risk for being yanked from school and placed in a special program. 

And the warning signs - like I said, these lists are very helpful for telling those of us who have plans what we can and cannot say and do in order to keep these plans concealed.

Boy am I being difficult. All you helpers out there just want to help. Here's a hint. Ask us what would help.
Following my own advice, I am asking. Not what would help? That is a later post. I am asking people who are or who have been suicidal: 

How would you, somebody with lived experience of being suicidal, design a suicide prevention campaign? What messages would you like to see? What do you want to have happen in the month of September to prevent suicide?

Give me your ideas. I want to hear from you in the comments below. Let's do something different this year.

Because the truth is, most suicides are prevented. We prevent them ourselves. It turns out, we are the experts in the field. If anybody out there is listening.

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