A “Spike Belt” for Suicide Prevention

 

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Going to open up with just a few stats, so don’t close out yet…what follows is crucial…

Let’s start with some stats

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people from adolescence to middle age, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Here are a few more stats:

1 in 4 deaths among 15-24 year olds is attributed to suicide (16% for those 25-44).

More women will attempt suicide then men however the death rate among men to suicide is four times that of women.

There is 1 suicide for every 25 attempts (according to SAVE: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education).

Of course, these numbers are concerning. But they’re numbers. And as troubling as they are to digest in a ‘healthy’ frame of mind, we can take them at face value and move on with our day. Why? Because statistics lack emotion – unless, of course, you’ve been personally touched by suicide and therefore, associate personal tragedy to these trends.

Stats don’t matter when you suffer

Based on my personal experience having struggled with suicidality at the worst of my disorder, numbers such as these meant nothing to me. All that mattered was finding a way to make the hurting stop. And in this dangerous frame, my logical and rational capacities were weak and this made me vulnerable. So, to spoon-feed statistics about the very symptom that incapacitates a person is in my opinion, a futile exercise that offers little leverage as a preventative measure.

How can we reach those who are vulnerable to suicide?

So how can we effectively reach someone who is vulnerable? What real leverage can we offer to successfully pull them away from the edge – against the blunt force of mental anguish that pushes them toward such an unspeakable action?

I don’t have the answer, but I do have an idea that I hope will help: Divert the sufferer being driven toward suicidality off course by installing an emotional “spike belt” so to speak.

Setting a “spike belt” to curb suicide

What I mean is, like police laying out a spike strip to force a getaway car off the road (by puncturing its tires), my thought is to divert the sufferer away from the disturbing pull of suicidal thinking by laying out an emotional spike belt – that is, by exposing the sufferer to the very real and deeply disturbing consequences of suicide. Not by flashing a poster or pointing out stats, but rather, by exposing them to the raw emotional scarring that suicide violently inflicts on survivors – the very people in your life that you love, and who love you – people whose lives are forever changed by this tragic act.

This ‘spike belt’ analogy serves to represent some very difficult conversations that I am having (and will be having) with surviving family members of suicide. Conversations I intend to share with readers. These discussions are raw and initiated with a blank pad of paper – meaning, each meeting or experience is unique and different and plays out naturally.

Each perspective will be different: the tragic consequence of a mother’s suicide from a son’s perspective, for example; and a sister’s perspective of losing a brother to suicide as another. These are two cases I am in the process of working on (and will be posting soon).

This is the beginning of a difficult, but necessary journey that I hope will save a life and in turn, spare others from the immeasurable suffering suicide inflicts on survivors.

Let’s hope

My vision in this incredibly difficult initiative is to build a spike belt – piece by piece, until it grows so powerful that no amount of force generated by mental anguish will progress beyond its ‘spikes of hope’.

This is my hope. And this is my reason.