Please note: This post has been made for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and addresses death and depression.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank my amazing friend, Eva Pohler, for putting together the Book Lover’s Unite for World Suicide Day Prevention Facebook event. She is an incredibly caring and giving person, and I admire her bravery and dedication for putting this all together. I’m one of the authors participating in the event, and I’m humbled to be amongst so many courageous and brave authors and readers as we shine a light on the importance of talking about matters related to suicide and depression.
To visit the FB event, click HERE.
To show your support for the event, you can purchase a t-shirt HERE to help raise money for the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
Today is my day to share my experiences with this tough subject. So let’s get to it.
At first, when Eva asked me to be a part of her event, I was hesitant to say yes. I know how deep and dark this topic can be and I always try to avoid it. It’s not that I’m afraid to open up, it’s that I’m reluctant to let my mind go into that space. You see, I’m a person who absorbs feelings and emotions. My mind is highly sensitive to suggestion, situations, and events. Some people call it being sensitive, others call it empathetic. I’m undecided on what to call it. Sometimes I think it’s a blessing that I can connect with people on this level, other times it’s a curse. I can imagine the most wonderful and beautiful things, but I can also visualize the most horrendous and dreadful. This can be very helpful as a writer, but extremely damaging as a human. So as I explore this topic, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m vague.
My experience with depression involves a dear family member on my husband’s side. This person lost his son to a terminal illness. The death devastated him to his core. He had already started drinking heavily when his son was diagnosed, but when he actually lost his son, his drinking amped up. Over time, he found himself divorced and living alone. He kept working, but at the same time, kept deteriorating. And then, one horrible day after losing his job, he was found near-death in his apartment. I’ll never forget arriving at the hospital and seeing an unrecognizable person. He was comatose, swollen, and discolored. Tubes and devices were hooked up all over his body. I rotated vigil with other families for a few days until the heart-wrenching decision was made to remove all artificial life sustaining machines.
I was there when he took his last breath.
According to the Addiction Center, “Alcohol abuse is rampant among sufferers of depression. At least 30%-40% of alcoholics also experience a depressive disorder.” Alcohol abuse disorder in women has increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013, according to a 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It is also important to note that high-risk drinking, defined as more than three drinks in a day or seven in a week for women, is on the rise among women by about 58%, according to a 2017 study comparing habits from 2001-2002 and 2012-2013.
According to the MCES Organization, “Alcohol is involved over a quarter of all suicides in the US (approximately 7500 per year). Suicide is 120 times more prevalent among adult alcoholics than in the general population. Alcohol abusers have higher rates of both attempted and completed suicide than non-abusers. More than one-third of suicide victims used alcohol just prior to death.”
Alcohol abuse and depression are a slippery slope. Experts say as much as we want to drink our troubles away, alcohol is a depressant and actually makes the pain you are trying to escape much worse. Monitoring alcohol usage for yourself and gently urging other women to partake in activities that don’t always involve drinking is even more important as we age.
If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255. If you or anyone you know is abusing a substance, including alcohol, please call 1-800-662-4357.
I could say more on this topic, but I just don’t have it in me. So I’ll close with this… we need to look out for each other. All the time. Every day.