Surviving Suicide – Part 43 – Special Edition World Suicide Prevention Day 2011
Well I finally got back to my blog! I have been remiss in keeping up but have been extremely busy too doing suicide prevention work which I am so passionate about! I wanted to share with you all that I am co-hosting an upcoming World Suicide Prevention Day Radio Show which is all done online. The call is listened to through your computer, takes place on WSPD Sat., Sept. 10th at 12noon – 1pm EDT.
I am co-hosting with a good friend/fellow survivor April Cline who has kindly offered her blogtalk radio show to do this call. Both April and I have lost a loved one to suicide, April lost her young son Daniel and I lost my husband, Rob. Both our losses were in 2000. We met on Facebook through common interests and soon discovered that we also shared a common bond of suicide. We will briefly tell our own personal stories of who we lost and how it impacted our lives and how we got involved in suicide prevention.
We’ve got terrific speakers from the suicide prevention community. Our first speaker at 12:15pm EDT is Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D. who is President of the American Assocation for Suicidology and she will be speaking about teen suicide which unfortunately seems to be on the rise. Michelle lost her sister just a few days before her 18th birthday. Our 2nd speaker is Mike Purcell, Founder of “Putting a Face on Suicide” and he will be speaking on suicide in the military. Mike lost his young son Christopher to suicide while employed in the U.S. Navy. Both co-hosts and two of our speakers are suicide survivors meaning we lost a loved one to suicide. Our 3rd speaker is Kenneth Hemmerick, who is Webmaster for the International Association for Suicide Prevention and he will be speaking on suicide in general. Kenneth attempted to take his own life over 25 years ago so he is offering the perspective of being an attempt survivor. All of us have been touched by suicide and it has impacted and compelled us in ways to get involved with suicide prevention.
I certainly hope you’ll be able to attend the call and I’ll provide the link for the Event Page as well as the LISTEN LIVE or LATER to the recording link for those who can’t make it on the 10th. I feel there will be valuable information and education shared by everyone on this call and it’s such an important cause that is so near and dear to my heart, that I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to do something personally to commemorate this all important cause and day.
Interestingly, Sept. 10th is also my wedding anniversary. It would have been my 34th had Rob remained alive. It used to be a very difficult day for me after he died, but I now look at it as a day I’m meant to do something with. It seems very coincidental that the very day of the anniversary also happens to be World Suicide Prevention Day. I’m not a big believer in coincidences, so I take it as a sign that what I do with prevention work was meant to be and having it be on this specific day is just further verification that I’m right on track – doing what I’m supposed to do.
I’ve been told many times that I should write a book, started this blog back in May 2010 and although nearing completion, I have not finished it as yet. I sometimes feel as though I’m spinning my wheels, being so passionate about suicide prevention and yet not being able to figure out a way to do it full time for a living. I’m doing it full time, just not making a living :). I’ve done suicide, suicide prevention and mental illness posts on my personal Facebook wall for quite some time. So often there are little to no replies or indications that anyone is really reading what I’m doing and then all of a sudden … I’ll get a private message from someone who has just been directly impacted by suicide, has seen my posts all along but not interacted. It is exactly those moments that spur me on knowing I can help them, either with comforting words of support, advice, referrals to resources so they can learn more or get help in their recovery.
I’ve also been encouraged for quite some time to create my own Facebook fanpage. I was reluctant as I couldn’t clearly figure out exactly what I wanted to do with this type of page, so I never created one but thought about it often and watched with great interest what others were doing with their pages. With this upcoming call, I realized it was time to create my page so last night Sept. 7th at 7pm I did create my fanpage entitled “Suicide Shatters” and my logo actually says “Suicide Shatters … Picking Up The Pieces”. It took me quite some time to come up with a name I was satisfied and happy with, I kept a word document and kept recording various ideas/names that came to me. One day the one I’ve gone with just came to me upon waking, it felt right, it described exactly what suicide does – it shatters you, your life and everything you’ve come to know.
When suicide is first experienced, you the survivor are usually in shock, immense sadness, sometimes anger, always left with unanswered questions and in a state of complete overwhelm. This is normal but such an unusual assembly of emotions that you’ve never dealt with before that it can leave you feeling very numb. When I first lost Rob, I went into “go mode” with all the many things you have to deal with to go forward, whether it be informing family and friends, arranging for a funeral or memorial, telling your children if you have them. It was good in a way that I kept busy, I was also very fortunate to have wonderful friends and family be there to help me in whatever way they could. I was amazed at how good and kind everyone was, they seemed to be coming out of the woodwork, and my normally quiet home with just my son and myself was filled daily with people coming and going.
Once the memorial was over, life sort of resumed but never to be the same again. I felt an intense aloneness that I’d not experienced before even though Rob and I had separated for almost 10 months. I still knew I’d be seeing him at our joint business, or I’d be hearing from him in some way or another, but now … in this new state … I knew I’d never ever see or hear from him again and that was quite unsettling and so very final. I did the best I could with what I knew, I went back to work trying to rebuild a business that by all rights should have been shut down. It was my only sense of normality and familiarity so I needed that at the time.
With time, life has a way of going on whether you like it or not, it just does. I had suddenly been thrown a curveball and had to recreate my life and every aspect by myself. It was a daunting task that I knew I’d get through, just didn’t know how exactly. Once things calmed down a bit, I was able to do some real self exploration, discovered self development/personal growth and absolutely loved it! I shut down my business 18 months after Rob’s passing and now whatever “normal” had been was no more. I gave myself permission to take a year off, regroup, rebuild and plan for what I now wanted to do.
Tried my hand at direct sales in self development, and although I loved the self development aspect, I hated direct sales and although deemed an independent business owner, I still had to comply with the mother company in many ways. Gave it a go for 3 years, failed abysmally and shut that down too after losing a lot of money and never making a dime. All of this was definitely life lessons, but I was getting very tired of learning more of what I didn’t want. I’m always looking for a plus or positive, so I knew I’d be able to use my knowledge one day when I got really on purpose and on track.
I’ve done a lot of thinking, still don’t have all the answers but I know one thing for sure. Suicide prevention is definitely my life purpose, my passion, my calling. It brings me to life and makes me on fire more than anything I’ve ever experienced. I have grown so much through this experience of suicide and have become a better person for it. The “Picking Up the Pieces” part of my fanpage logo represents to me what survivors must do. They must pick up the many pieces of their lives, whatever there is left of it, and whether they recognize it or not, they must go on and create an entirely new life for themselves and their children.
I watched an amazing TED Talk video just yesterday on Compassion. I have a lot of compassion and that has grown and become even more pronounced after the suicide. People ask me all the time why I do what I do? Doesn’t it drain you or depress you? I didn’t use to have a really good answer, I just knew that deep in my heart, it was my purpose to take what I’d experienced, learned from, learned to heal and move on and take those lessons to others in this same journey of being a survivor. The video from TED Talk explained so well how I felt about doing compassionate suicide prevention work in any capacity. She explained compassion as this: Someone who is cultivating compasson when they are in the presence of suffering, they feel that suffering a lot more than many other people do, however, they return to baseline a lot sooner. This is called resilience. Many think compassion drains us – but it enlivens us. Compassion transforms suffering.”
When I heard those words, everything made sense! It is exactly how I feel “enlivened” when working with other survivors, without actually getting attached to the outcome and coming back to baseline very quickly. Occasionally, a particular person and their story truly does rock me, but it is only for a little while, I take a break and come back even stronger. There is such a sense of being on purpose that I can’t explain. Although I’ve still not figured it all out, I have no doubt I will always be doing something suicide related, whether it be educating others about it, what they can look for and be aware of, proper respectful languaging around the topic of suicide, helping dispel the stigma that is so present and stops so many from reaching out when they truly need help and are feeling suicidal, or whether it’s a fellow survivor too traumatized to tell their story as they feel they will be judged. All of it feels right!
So as World Suicide Prevention Day 2011 approaches, I know like I’ve never known before, that I am completely where I’m supposed to be, doing what I love to do. The rest will work itself out – of that I have no doubt. Telling our personal stories is one of the most powerful ways we as human beings can communicate. Relating our experiences and educating others is how we learn and how we educate others who have not experienced what we have. The lessons we learn along the way are invaluable to others who have not yet arrived where we have and there is always someone/something new to learn.
I encourage any of my readers to please get involved and learn about suicide. It is everyone’s issue! Almost one million die by suicide each year worldwide, one every 40 seconds – think about that! You can’t afford NOT to be aware, you never know when it may be needed and you never know how just a kind word or smile can make someone’s day who is so down and may have lost all hope for a better day. Take a little time for others, get to know what’s going on in their world, show some compassion and you’ll be amazed at what can come of it. Suicide is preventable in most cases, by educating and reducing stigma it will save lives.
I hope to see you on the call! Remember – we all can make a difference – one person – one voice – one action at a time!
Here are the links for the call:
EVENT PAGE FOR RADIO SHOW: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=243703925668579
LISTEN LIVE or LATER to the recording: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/aprilclineradioshow/2011/09/10/suicide-awareness-show
Facebook link for my fanpage “Suicide Shatters” http://www.facebook.com/pages/Suicide-Shatters/129349467164373