July 12 brings annually a pall on happiness. Typically, for most, this day brings warmth and sunshine. However, for members of my family and me, this day carries heavy memories of a life who has left us much too early. 

Today’s blog will not concentrate on this traumatic event. Instead, I hope that it might raise just a little awareness to a problem which has historically devastated the lives and homes of people and which continues today. The issue is suicide – the taking of one’s own life – which needlessly ends the life and mind of a wholly worthy person, but also tears apart those whom that victim leaves behind.

My Interest in Psychology

As I mentioned in previous posts, I am a student at Purdue University Global studying Industrial-Organizational Psychology which is the study of human behavior in the workplace and the application of evidence-based research to create high-functioning organizations with motivated and satisfied workers. I chose to study psychology because a series of career counseling sessions and a battery of aptitude and personality tests indicate that counseling and consulting are prime career paths for me.

I must stress that, as an I-O Psychologist, I will not engage in clinical analysis, nor will I be licensed as an LCPC or other clinical psychological practitioner. I will not provide psychoanalysis, therapy, or other clinical care to support the mental health of clients. However, I do aspire to do no harm and to provide beneficial support to workers. In this way and in this work, I hope to help people achieve self actualization, gain and maintain confidence, and feel that they are valued and that there is always hope.

I’ve personally witnessed the devastation of rejection, hazing, and the loss of vocation and direction can have on the mental health of an individual. Every mind has value, and no one should feel that suicide or death is a solution to life’s problems. My hope is that, perhaps, I can contribute to ethical workplaces with great selection processes, mindfulness of workplace motivations and attitudes, and cultures of support which nurture people for who they are and the unique gifts they offer in the work they do.

Suicide Prevention Is Paramount

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be found here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

Whether suicidal thoughts are on your mind, or you know of someone whom you suspect may engage in self harm or self termination, having some knowledge and course of action may help. I know that families and friends left behind go back and ask themselves and others why this happened and how could they not protect the victim from suicide. I’ve personally found myself asking these same questions. Sometimes, we simply don’t know, and sometimes we don’t know what to do. But, know, that it’s not your fault that someone you love took his/her own life – you must not put the blame on yourself, and it’s best to seek professional help if you find yourself in this position. I speak from personal experience – help is available.

According to https://afsp.org/ and https://www.spsamerica.org/ among other publicly-available resources, here are some warning signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Talking about hopelessness and helplessness
  • Looking for ways to harm themselves
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Loss of interest in things
  • Giving personal items away
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Disturbances in eating or sleeping

Moreover, contributing circumstances in people’s lives may lead them toward thoughts of suicide. These risk factors include:

  • Relationship break-up or divorce 
  • Rejection from job selection or job termination
  • Home problems: divorce, at-home relationship disputes
  • Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, especially if undiagnosed and untreated
  • Death of a loved one
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Bullying or discrimination
  • Problems at work or school

None of these lists are exhaustive, and unless you are a licensed professional, you are not in a position to diagnose or treat mental health disorders. However, reaching out, being a friend, helping people feel loved and respected, and helping others to seek professional help may save a life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, if you know someone in crisis, please “call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

If you are a survivor of a suicide victim, I highly recommend seeking help. My family has received much help from LOSS – Loving Outreach to Suicide Survivors, a program offered by Catholic Charities. Please do consider supporting any of these great causes.