Knowledge Is Not Always Powerful

I’m not feeling as motivated to blog recently. I have a lot of topics to write about but no real motivation at the moment to cover those issues. Part of my problem is that I am extremely busy, but that has never stopped me before. I think I am feeling frustration due to the fact the same events keep repeating themselves that I can clearly see are avoidable, and if I can see it others can surely see it too. Giving up the fight is not going to help though, so I will continue. Every voice counts. If you have read my blog at all you know that I have spent a majority of my career working with mentally ill and troubled individuals. Let’s just say I had a lot of practice with that prior to becoming a nurse, so it was a natural fit. I find the lack of mental health support and availability in our country to be outrageously subpar. Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise. Suicide is rarely caused by a single factor. Although suicide prevention efforts largely focus on identifying and providing treatment for people with mental health conditions, there are many additional opportunities for prevention.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans – and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the country,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse this troubling rise in suicide.”For this Vital Signs report, CDC researchers examined state-level trends in suicide rates from 1999-2016. In addition, they used 2015 data from CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System, which covered 27 states, to look at the circumstances of suicide among people with and without known mental health conditions. Researchers found that more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Relationship problems or loss, substance misuse; physical health problems; and job, money, legal or housing stress often contributed to risk for suicide. Firearms were the most common method of suicide used by those with and without a known diagnosed mental health condition.

This is why we need to be more proactive in this day and age when we have so much more knowledge than we did, even ten years ago. When a person is contemplating suicide, they are not thinking clearly about consequences for themselves or others. They are just trying desperately to end their pain. Clearly, people that commit horrible crimes and end many lives on their way out have no issue with their life ending also. When a close family member ends their life, they are not trying to destroy the lives of the survivors. They aren’t thinking about the future at all. This is where my frustration comes in. I have a social media acquaintance that I met through a sporting event. His job requires that he carry a weapon. He is amazing at his job, and I can’t imagine anyone would be happy if he lost his job, especially him. It definitely would make me very unhappy if that happened, but here is the rub. Since I have become social media “friends” with him, there is a rare week that goes by where he does not post passive aggressive statements that definitely make my nurse brain think he is suicidal. I got so concerned in the middle of last week that I asked my husband to contact his minister and have him check on him. We do not live very close to him and I do not know where exactly he lives, but I do know he has the means to get the job done if he wants to. Everybody does, really. Although he has access to firearms that most of the general public do not just have laying around. I am not pro gun control at all, but I am proactive when it comes to mental health care and someone with depression and suicidal thoughts should not be alone with an arsenal.

When we did not hear back from the minister and this individual again posted a very depressive comment that was basically begging for some kind of reaction, my husband contacted him with a message to find out if he needed assistance and to let him know that his continual social media statuses were disturbing if he was not feeling suicidal because it certainly seemed that was the case. My husband was reaching out to see if we could help or if he needed help. All of a sudden his message was being answered by this person’s “best friend”, who was supposedly there with him when he wrote the vague status. He told my husband that the individual did indeed attempt suicide that night we called the minister and he was in the hospital for several hours. If any of this is true, all I have to say is, what the hell? Where I come from, we keep people who are suicidal on a mental health hold. They do not go home after “several hours” where they live alone. I am intentionally being vague about where I met this individual because I do not want him to lose his job because I feel that would be detrimental to his mental health too, but when I say he has access to means to kill himself I mean he has access that others definitely do not. We all go through hard times and some go through more than others, so seek assistance when needed and follow up with professional counseling. Asking for help is definitely the least harmful thing that you can do and when you do ask for help at a hospital no less, you should receive it.

I feel helpless to do anything, because I have no idea if the person my husband spoke to was his friend or him or even how much of the saga is truth or fiction. All I know is that I feel like the situation may get very bad without intervention and the treating physician should have done more to ensure his safety. I fear that his habit of posting these veiled threats on his page will turn him into the boy that cried wolf, or worse yet, spur someone else to feel suicidal as well and there will be another needless loss of life. Just an hour ago he once again posted on social media a veiled threat disguised as song lyrics, and all I feel is sad for him and anger at the total lack of care he is getting. I guess he isn’t worried about his job or his future if he is willing to do that, which is a huge red flag. I hope his “friends” will get him some real help because I am stopping this crazy train for me because even though I can clearly see the outcome, I can’t help him. So, my mood has been altered as well and my desire for writing about issues like this has been stifled.

It seems as if I am always walking a fine line between being totally honest and protecting the identity and privacy of others. Some don’t deserve to be protected because their actions were completely disgusting and if my words hurt, I am not likely to care. Others are just innocent people trying to get through life as best they can, and I want to help them without hurting them. On top of this whirlwind of total sh!t, a toddler drowned this weekend on Saint Simons Island. Not too long ago I blogged about two strangers that died while saving a toddler at the same beach over Mother’s Day, and how I hoped their deaths could be used to serve as a caution to parents that do not watch their young children closely. Apparently not. It’s common sense, really. I guess that is asking too much. Hopefully I will stop feeling “over it” at some point and get back to my mostly sunny personality, with only a touch of hurricane mixed in.


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