Saturday, September 10, 2016

Suicide, Mormon Prevention, and Personal Observations

It sounds good, but I don't believe that anyone who is currently alive knows this to be absolutely factual.

Knotty wrote a blog about suicide. I realized after writing five paragraphs and still not being finished that my response  was far too long to be a response.. I've turned the response into the blog of its own. Thanks for the inspiration, Knotty. Thank you also for your expertise. As an M.S.W. (I can't remember in what field was your other master's degree), you are a professional in the field of mental health. While it's not officially listed as such in official or unofficial rankings of our school or even of most medical schools, I'm not sure mental health receives its proper emphasis in our curriculum. With the exception of those of us already of considering psychiatry as a specialty, most of us look toward our rotation in psychiatry as something to be endured -- hopefully with minimal [literal physical] scars ; the psych ward can be a scary place -- by the time it has been completed. While mental health professionals can sometimes be guilty of failing to rule out physical causes before delving into the mental and emotional aspects of a condition, medical practitioners are, at the same time, more often dismissive of mental health as a legitimate profession, although the most extreme of mental health patients they're  more than willing to pass along to their mental health counterparts.

Knotty noted that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has begun a new suicide prevention web site. I'm pleased that the LDS church is at least addressing suicide, though the skeptic in me highly doubts that they are going about it in an efficacious manner. I could very well be wrong and genuinely hope I am, as I count among my blood relatives members of the LDS church who are in need of mental health assistance, though whether it's reached the point of suicide prevention, I really do not know. Where the LDS church and its kew program are concerned, at least it's a start.

I read somewhere on RFM that suicides had overtaken accidents as the leading cause of deaths in Utah among those between the ages of 10 and 19. I googled it, and for the year of 2013 , it's accurate if the statistics cited in the google source are accurate. ( I don't now if those are the most current statistics compiled on the subject, or if the youthful population of Utah  between now and then became less despondent and more careless again.

I think I understand much of the mindset concerning adolescent suicide simply because I've found myself  in similar situations as many of those in that age group who have either succeeded, attempted, pr contemplated committing the ultimate act designed to end it all.  I've only been in a couple of situations in which an even semi-rational person would consider suicide as a viable solution to the problems or after-effects of problems one faced. the other times suicide has even crossed my mind, I have to say I was influenced in a large part by adolescent hormones. puberty didn't officially hit me until three years ago, and so I'll continue to have those adolescent hormones interfering with logical thought process for a few more years. 

My situation is perhaps heightened by the "pressure cooker" nature of my educational program, and particularly by my having accelerated the process by completing both high school and undergraduate education early. This was done, however, by my own choosing. My parents did make the decision to enter my brother and me as kindergartners even though we were born on what was, at the time, California's final day of eligibility for kindergarten for the year. If that was a mistake -- and I don't believe it was, as even the slightly dense Matthew was reading before kindergarten though we were just four-and-one-half years old -- that would have been my parents' mistake. I don't think it ended up being a mistake at all, though. The single biggest issue in that regard was that my parent faced a great deal of judgment and criticism from school personnel and from educated parents of our classmates for having enrolled a little girl in kindergarten who still wore size 2T clothing. I was almost up to a 3T by the end of the year. (My plaid Catholic school jumpers for the year had to be hand-made by my mom's best friend. Size 5 was the smallest size that could be ordered from the company that produced them. Two years later when we were again in Catholic school, after I had been very sick and hadn't grown at all in that year, my mom's friend still had to remake the size 5 jumpers into 4Ts.)

When seventh-grade became unbearably unchallenging, however, Matthew and I were each given the choice of moving up to eighth grade halfway through seventh grade. I know I was influenced by Matthew's carte blanche to make his own decision; there was no way I was going to allow him to advance to the next grade yet stay put myself. Still, the ball was clearly in  my own court. Once we were in high school, our parents insisted that we enroll in academically rigorous courses, but the choice to take the advance placement tests for college credit was ours and ours alone for each and every course. This made it possible for us to make it through baccalaureate programs quickly if we chose to do so. Matthew was encouraged by my parents to remain an undergraduate for a fourth year to complete his athletic eligibility. He chose to graduate early. I hope it wasn't a sense of competition and of keeping up with me that motivated him to move on to medical school when he could have lingered and played baseball for an additional year, but if so, no one held a gun to his head. As far as I was concerned, my parents probably assumed I'd want to move on after three years, but I'm confident that they would have expressed no opposition had I chosen to be a college student -- even if only to boren my social life -- for an additional year.

So Matthew and i placed ourselves in a metaphorical academic pressure cooker by enrolling in medical school at the ages of 19. It just seemed like the only thing to do at the time.  I believe that there are times when both of us, but particularly I because I look much younger than Matthew, are the recipients of the negative aspects of envy from classmates. One happened to me very recently when I wasn't allowed into a bar along with others from my cohort. Most were unaware of the situation, but a few knew, and took particular delight in refusing to cross the street to try the establishment on that side of the road in the event that that bouncer or manager might have believed that my driver's license really was mine.  That or something like it will happen to me again at least once before I'm finished with this program. It comes with the territory. It's human nature for people to be -- at times, anyway -- jealous of other who achieved what they achieved or more at an earlier age than they did. i knew this would happen when I signed on for this lifestyle. I didn't see all that many Doogie Howser reruns, but of the ones I saw, I don't recall him whining about his classmates practicing age-discrimination. Doogie just did his job at the hospital, then went home and straightened his room, typed his journal,  and took out the trash as his mother expected him to do. (He didn't do nearly es much studying as the interns I see around here doing, though. Perhaps Doogie's sitcom character status made him just a little bit intellectually superior to his real-life counterparts. Filming Doogie studying might have made for some rather boring film or video footage.) Sometimes that has to be my motto: What would Doogie do? (Editorial note: I know Doogie's not real, and, for that matter,  a not-terribly-realistic character as TV characters go. Still, one must find role models to fit one's situation even if one must sometimes search into the less-than-credible annals of TV Land)

As one matures and grows more intelligent and more self-aware, one must learn that adolescent hormones are, for some of us,  not entirely unlike the voices that are heard inside the heads of schizophrenics. The "wisdom" emitting from our adolescent hormones is usually best ignored, or at least considered, then rejected. Not everything about adolescence in itself is bad, but somewhere between few and zero legitimately good ides ever sprung as a result of the direct influence of adolescent hormones. They're an interference in what otherwise might be a well-functioning brain.  I'm told they go away gradually. I'm still waiting for that to happen. Meanwhile, coping mechanisms must be developed. I've found three thoughts  that are most effective in keeping me from serious consideration of suicide as a solution to anything.

The #1 thing that keeps me from seriously contemplating suicide is that my situation, even when at its very worst, usually improve dramatically within a matter of days. Such is probably the case with most people in my age group. Our circumstances change rapidly, along with our abilities to handle them. The number on exception I see to this, which does not impact me, is the case of an adolescent struggling with sexual identity, whose struggle is compounded by a family who is unsupportive and hostile, whether for reasons related to  religion, ignorance, bigotry, or God knows what. That's a situation that my not resolve itself quickly, ad intervention is indicated if an additional suicide is to be prevented.

The #2 factor keeping suicide at bay as an option for me is that I am, at heart, a coward. Anything that is a sure shot to succeed is almost guaranteed to be a bit scary, a bit painful, a bit  messy, or combinations of the three. I don't want a botched suicide on my hands. I especially don't want a suicide that leaves me alive but with diminished physical or mental capacity, which happens, but neither would I want a suicide attemp to be considered as a cry for attention. If I were to attempt suicide, I would want 100% success, meaning i would want to be dead at the end of my attempt.  Ways of going about this, as I see it, are basically on of three processes: jump off an extremely high vantage point from which no one could survive; shoot oneself in the head; drown oneself in a place one would not be rescued before it was too late. I don't think I'd ever have the nerve to hold a gun to my head and pull the trigger. My hands would probably shake too hard for me even to pull the trigger. The drowning option, in its simplest form, would take too long and would, in my mind, therefore be too agonizing. I suppose someone could rent a boat, drive to a remote part of a bay or large lake, take a large quantity of sedatives, then jut as the sedatives began to take effect, jump overboarding perhaps weighting ones ankles for added measure. I'm still not sure if unconsciousness would come fast enough. Probably my best bet would be to jump off  a surface too high for anyone to survive it. The amount of time from jump to impact would be emotionally agonizing and one would need to find a place where he or she could not fall on and injure someone else. Taking someone else out with you would be unconscionable. I still think the wait between jump nd the inevitable would be more than I could handle, but I suppose if I were in a situation where i had no choice but to end it all, that would be my only option. (I don't trust drug overdoses. Too often they don't work.)

My #3 reason for not giving in to the temptation to suicide is that it scares me. It scares me not just in a way that death scares me, but in its own unique way. It's not even that I fear judgment from God, as I believe a loving and just God would be somewhat understanding to anyone facing a predicament that drove them to suicide. It's something more. I read a book that Judge Alex Ferrer recommended.  I checked my Kindle library, an I believe the book was Many Lives, Many Masters by BrIan L. Weiss, MD. Judge Ferrer lost two older brothers to illnesses when they were in early stages of adulthood, and thus has an interest in life after death, but I think he views much information regarding the supernatural with the same skepticism that I do.  I read the book. While I'm naturally skeptical of the supernatural and woo woo aspects of just about everything, religion not excluded, much of this book made sense to me. One thing from the book that stuck with me is that, according to accounts of those who had been clinically dead but had been revived,  most people who had died were, after death, in blissful states. Those who had deliberately ended their own lives did not possess that level of blissfulness and calmness.  I don't wish to be in  situation in which after death I am agitated and unequipped to do anything to change the situation.

I'm still not quite comfortable with death and am happy to put it off for quite some time, but my work requires exposure to it. I'm in the very early stages of seeing death as part of the natural progression.  The particular part of the progression they call death is something for which I don't feel anywhere near ready. There are circumstances over which I have no control, but suicide certainly isn't one of those things. One thought stays with me, which is that what if all of the stories of spirits floating peacefully after death, of going toward the light, and so forth, are all things that occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen for a considerable time? Such has been hypothesized. What if this life is all we have? What if once we go -- POOF! --it's all over, and we never regain consciousness in any form.  Except in Dr. Kervorkian-type cases where one can no longer bear the pain, it would seem to be a sad thing to give up this life when there was nothing left to follow it.

I'm not saying there's no form of heaven -- I believe and hope there is  -- but how could I ever know for certain?  Faith is in the heart and mind, but is not based in reality. If there is a heaven, it can probably wait. If there isn't, that's all the more reason to stick round here as long as one can stand it. I hope the Mormons are successful at preventing suicides.


  1. My other master's degree is in public health. It was a joint degree program. ;-)

    I think many people who get to the point of wanting to commit suicide and are doing it because they really want to die are usually at a point at which living is scarier for them than dying is. So they aren't necessarily afraid of pain or mess... or even so much what others will think of them. They just want the pain, depression, hopelessness, and anxiety to end. That, to them, is much worse than the prospect of death.

    There are some people who attempt suicide as a means of manipulating others. They don't actually want to kill themselves; they simply want to know that others care. They seek attention. Usually, people who resort to that kind of thing are suffering from Cluster B personality disorders and have engaged in behaviors extreme enough to drive others away. So they engage in suicidal behaviors to draw them back into the drama. Unfortunately, sometimes these folks end up seriously injuring themselves or actually succeeding in killing themselves.

    When I was depressed, I used to think of suicide a lot. But, fortunately, I was not depressed enough to overcome my fear of pain or mess. Life had not become so unbearable that killing myself was more attractive than living with the misery. And fortunately, I found competent help and overcame that misery. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

    1. My only very serious suicidal issue was after I was assaulted. There was physical pain on top of emotional pain. It wasn't going away (particularly the emotional pain, but there was lingering physical pain as well) and I wasn't sure how much longer I wanted to deal with it. I ended up with a good, kind, and sympathetic doctor who said that nothing was going to get better for me if I couldn't even pee or poop without pain, and then be reminded of the attack every time I had pain with urination or defecation. He said he was going to give me whatever painkillers I needed so that I could function without daily activities causing so much pain that I couldn't forget even if I otherwise could have. He said if I had to go through rehab for narcotics addiction after everything else was dealt with, we'd cross that bridge when we came to it, but it would be better to have a living patient in rehab than one who had offed herself because the pain caused too many reminders. (He had a tough time convincing my parents to go along with his treatment plan, but they ultimately did.) As it ended up, I weaned off the drugs very easily and
      had no issues with going off them. He used a bit of benzos and muscle relaxants to minimize the amount of narcotics needed, which was effective. I don't like the way those make me feel and have no desire for them whatsoever now, but at the time, they got me through the days and nights.

      I had cognitive therapy as well, which was necessary, but the main thing was getting through physical pain in areas that reminded me of an especially bad part of the attack.

    2. Ugh... I am sure that attack left you with some significant PTSD. How horrible. I'm glad you had the help you needed.

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  3. Judging from his frequent and creepy comments, Chuck seems to spend a lot of time with (or thinking about) young ladies. Many of them young thin blondes. I'll bet this neighbor was blonde, but that's just a guess. If my neighbor was trying to undermine my relationship with my child, trying to "wedge" himself between parent and child, I'd consider it a grooming behavior and react accordingly. As the mom to two young ladies, I am officially creeped out.

    1. I find that the number of comments left here has diminished in recent months, and I can't help the feeling that readers are, like you, creeped out. It will not have solved the problem, but I'm going to be to be more aggressive in regard to deleting comments. Underlying problems will not disappear, but perhaps readers may be made to feel less uncomfortable.

      I appreciate your concern (a concern which is shared by my own mother), but I would like to tell you, if it is any consolation, that I am extremely guarded where my personal life is concerned and am about as safe as anyone in my circumstances could be; I'm probably more likely to be harmed by a random stranger than by anyone who reads this blog, though with the number of attacks upon random strangers, that probably sounds like slim-to-zero consolation.

      In any event, your comment is appreciated, and I will more actively delete comments even if feelings are hurt in the process.

    2. Chuck's comments have concerned me as well.