ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Please Don't Kill Yourself: An Open Letter from A Psychiatrist

Updated on March 14, 2013

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (http://www.afsp.org) suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It is the 4th leading cause of death in people ages 18 to 65 years of age. And every 14 minutes another person dies by suicide. In 2010 there were 38,364 deaths by suicide in the United states. By contrast there were 14,478 deaths by homicide the same year. Over 90% of people who commit suicide have a mental illness that could be treated. They don’t have to die.

What someone who dies by suicide doesn’t see is the incredible hole his death leaves behind in the hearts of people who knew him. She doesn’t see the horrific pain in the eyes of the people who she has left behind. I see those things, because I work with the family members and friends who survive. I see those things because I’ve been the person who survived, both professionally and personally.

I am writing this today after we learned a staff member at my hospital killed himself last night. This is a person who was liked and respected by his colleagues. Many people have reacted with disbelief. One person said “I just spoke with him last week and we laughed.” Another person suggested that it was more likely he had been killed by someone else than that he took his own life. People are crying in the hallways and gathering in offices to comfort each other. I imagine that this person had no idea about the pain he would cause. I imagine he only was able to think about and feel his own pain.

We take a mandatory suicide prevention course every year in my workplace. We talk about signs of distress and how to ask someone. We don’t have a course on what to do when someone looks fine and there aren’t any obvious signs of problems. I don’t know if anyone asked this person if he was thinking of killing himself. I don’t think anyone had a reason to think to ask the question.

As a psychiatrist, suicide is the enemy I fight. Suicide and homicide are the two worst outcomes of mental illness, and of the two suicide is by far the more common. I have had to come to grips with the fact that I can’t stop anyone from killing himself. I can do my best to be present, to hear what someone is saying and offer them both help and hope. But I can’t prevent suicide. I can only ask – please don’t kill yourself. Please get help. Let yourself ask for help. You are not alone. Please believe that things can get better, that illness can be treated and problems overcome.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Rose Anne Karesh profile image
      Author

      Rose Anne Karesh 5 years ago from Virginia

      Hi krillco, thanks for commenting. I would love to read your material when it is ready, I hope you publish it. So many people struggle with those issues of meaningless and aloneness.

    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 5 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      Amen. It's hard to know you have thrown a lifeline and the person drowning cast it aside. It think a major source of no-indication-of-trouble suicide is often located in individuals with an acute sense of existential depression rather than the DSM depressions. I am working on material and approaches to this issue, directed at helping those of us with existential depression to learn methods of coping with it, living with it, and finding joy and purpose in life despite it.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)