Suicide Awareness & Prevention, Part 1 of 3

This three-part series is aimed at promoting suicide awareness, and we will be discussing the topic of suicide throughout. If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK – and get some support. I truly hope you will stay alive and stay with us. 

Suicide is a leading cause of death here in the United States.

It’s time to shed the stigma and talk openly about the topic of suicide, so we can promote suicide awareness and prevent unnecessary deaths by suicide.

Did you know that suicide rates are highest in the spring?

Are you surprised to learn that most people who commit suicide have no known mental health disorder? (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

More than 10.5 million American adults reported feeling suicidal in 2017. This is more than 4% of adults 18 and older. The prevalence was highest among adults aged 18-25 – about 10.5% of adults in this age range reported serious suicidal thoughts in 2017. (via the National Institute of Mental Health)

I’m a member of this club. (I’ll share more about that in part 2 of this series).

My first love committed suicide when I was 15, and ever since, suicide has been a part of my life.

suicide awareness
I suspect that Bradford Roger Test would be stunning us all with his guitar skills today if he were still with us. He loved music, loved hunting with his dad, and he loved his dog Dozer. Brad died by suicide at age 20, 15 years ago, in May 2004.

For years after Brad died, I fought the desire to take my own life. Even though I’m past the days where suicidal thoughts were almost constant, I’m not in the clear.

The truth is, suicidal thoughts are common, and they can be complicated.

Lots of things put us at risk for suicidal thoughts/feelings, and they’re not always in our control. Family history of suicide, family history of abuse, local suicide epidemics, feelings of isolation & loss, the stigma around seeking help, and barriers to accessing professional support are all risk factors for suicide.

Relationship problems, substance abuse, health issues, and financial losses are common contributing factors, too.

Those are the statistics – the facts – what the research tells us.

Today, I’d also love to share what I’ve noticed about suicide… simply starting a conversation as someone who cares about the topic.

My noticings are from my perspective as someone with a personal relationship to suicide, as someone with a background in mental health and experience working with suicidal clients, and as someone who’s passionate about supporting leading-edge creatives as they make their mark on the world.

Every time life ends prematurely, we miss out on volumes of what could have been contributed to the world with that life. When this happens, we all lose.

Sometimes, it’s a super depressed person that’s feeling suicidal every day. I suspect this is what many people picture when they think about suicide.

Sometimes, though, it’s the person with the biggest smile on their face, laughing the loudest, cracking jokes, impacting every single person in the room with their brilliant energy who’s most at risk to die by suicide.

A person feeling suicidal can simultaneously be madly in love with their closest people, living a beautiful envy-inspiring life. Then, in the wee hours of the night, they find themselves hitting a massive low with no-one around or no-one they can trust to provide the support they need to keep going.

This brief low moment is backed by the facts, too – some research has shown that more than half of suicides are attempted impulsively, and a quarter of suicides are attempted after only 5 minutes of consideration

I’ve noticed a gap in the suicide prevention resources that are available for people like you and me – people who are smart, ambitious, independent, creative, and private.

People who are self aware, constantly learning, and always seeking personal growth.

Those of us who are ready, willing, and able to invest generously in ourselves for the betterment of our life.

Leaders who possess a healthy respect for how small our challenges really are in the grand scheme of things… who sometimes feel so sad so deeply none the less.

Many times, we fall into our depths when we are carrying the emotional weight of our entire community, and our entire world… when we’re acutely aware of the severe challenges faced by so many less fortunate than us.

In those moments, it’s too easy to feel defeated, alone, and unable to keep going.

For some of us, the national hotline and the free support groups just don’t cut it. The traditional healthcare system doesn’t always cut it for us either.

For some of us, the traditional healthcare system isn’t an option – whether it be a lack of insurance coverage, bad experiences that have scared us away from the system, or an adamant refusal to take medication… not a refusal based in shame, but based in a deep knowing that we need to find a better way.

While we’re on the topic – there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking medication and seeking treatment through the traditional system. We are all entitled to seek the care & solutions that work best for us.

We can welcome healing in from all angles. In my book, the more support the better.

We feel things strongly, and we’re not interested in dimming or losing that part of ourselves.

Our emotional & creative nature is our gift to this world, and we’re always looking for ways to channel this.

We are strong and capable and we want to be supported with this in mind.

It can be a challenge to find support like that. I’m working to bridge this gap, so we can stop falling through it.

Many people don’t realize how many options exist to feel better.

Part of bridging the gap is having conversations to spread suicide awareness.

From what I can tell, this gap in support is partially produced by the way we talk about & portray suicide.

Suicide is sold to us as something to be afraid of, something to judge, a weakness of character, a lack of the stuff it takes to make it. This stigma keeps us quiet and ashamed when we feel suicidal or otherwise awful.

On the flip side, suicide can also be glorified and cast as a brave or powerful choice that inspires change in others, and that’s a dangerous story, too.

Changing this narrative for ourselves is so important, and it all starts with suicide awareness.

Another part of the gap I’ve noticed is a social illusion that people experiencing wealth, love, and other abundance are protected from feeling suicidal or generally unstable.

In reality, it can be extremely lonely at the top, with a ton of pressure piled on to boot.

Related, I’ve noticed a (mostly) unspoken but widespread belief that suicide prevention & support should be low cost or free.

Don’t get me wrong, I *love* that free resources & support groups exist, and I believe that these things are so very important, just like therapy and medication are important.

Still, these solutions do not provide everything for everyone.

I don’t know about you, but I crave support in this area that goes far beyond the walls of a doctor’s office, a room full of strangers, or a free 10-minute phone call.

I want support…

…to meet me in the middle of the night, in the moments when it really, truly counts.

…who cares deeply and recognizes that my darkest moments are stepping stones to an even more powerful version of myself.

…able to show me how to make those steps forward with much less unnecessary pain and figuring-it-out-alone along the way.

I would love to live in a world where friends, family, and society at large can support us well through moments like these.

I like to think that this conversation spreading suicide awareness is a step in the right direction.

Still, the truth is that most people aren’t trained in suicide prevention and most people have absolutely no-freaking-clue how to meaningfully connect with a person who’s feeling suicidal.

We learn to keep our feelings to ourselves, and we decide to carry (/be crushed by) our burden all alone.

Even our supportive, priceless friends can seem to be unavailable or distracted when we need them the most. Can you relate?

When we’re willing and able to invest our time & money into high-caliber, highly qualified emotional support – like the support I provide to my clients – we can transform ourselves over and over again… in ways that free resources and crowded hotlines just can’t touch.

I don’t want either of us to be the next Brad Test, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, Chris Cornell, Robin Williams, or any of our loved ones who we’ve lost to suicide.

So, it’s time to change the way we talk about suicide.

Let’s keep spreading suicide awareness. We can use this 3-part blog series to get started.

Let’s change the way we approach these most challenging moments. We can empower each other to recognize and embrace our greatest creative and emotional gifts. Our world needs this from us.

If you’re feeling suicidal, sad, depressed, hopeless, lonely, anxious, etc… help is available, and you deserve access to that help. Also, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Please know that there are MANY options available to you.

I always say, if you and I haven’t had a conversation, then you definitely haven’t tried everything yet. Email me at info@briannamcinerny.com if you’d like to connect.

I have a class coming up called Transforming Dark Moments into Opportunities for Expansion. It’s a free virtual class on 6/7 @ 12 PM EST. If you’re still reading this, suicidal or not, I bet this class will be a great option for you to explore. (Register for all the details).

Stay tuned for more on this topic. I’ll share more about my personal story in part 2 of this series. We will look towards the future of suicide prevention in part 3.

If you are feeling suicidal & need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK

Give Lovingly: Be Generous Without Sacrificing Yourself

Generosity is readily giving more of oneself – more time, more money, more kindness – than is necessary or expected considering the situation. I’m sure you know, generosity is an extremely desirable quality to have.

It also has a dark side.

Unfortunately, the desire to give weighs heavily on some generous people when they don’t practice giving to themselves first and foremost. Generous people often give to others, to their own detriment.

The pressure we feel to be generous often doubles during the holiday season.

For instance… We donate money or buy gifts before accounting for our own financial well-being. 

We always say “yes” to new responsibilities or events, when we’re already worn paper thin.

We force smiles and niceties with people and family members who don’t make us feel good, just to maintain the status quo.

When we neglect our own needs like this for the benefit of others, we nurture a breeding ground for resentment, anger, and eventually burnout, when we have absolutely nothing left to give.

This is not the spirit of generosity. True generosity happens naturally – inspired and overflowing from a full cup, without creating any hardship whatsoever for the giver.

To the contrary – true acts of giving always carry an element of receiving too. Contributing to someone else’s life from an inspired, loving place always feels genuinely enjoyable, abundant, and fulfilling for everyone involved.

When you’re NOT enjoying the process of giving – when you feel like you don’t have a choice, or you feel that you never get anything back in return – that’s a sure sign you’ve stepped into the territory of self-induced self-sacrifice.

So let’s take a step back, shall we?

These tips will help your giving spirit thrive throughout the holiday season.

1. Take 100% responsibility for the way you feel. Let other people take 100% responsibility for the way they feel, too. Your #1 job is to care for yourself – let that be your priority. It’s not your job to make other people happy. It’s not up to anyone else to make you happy, either. People will survive and thrive without you, or they’ll learn how with practice. That is a very, very good thing.

2. Learn what your “full body yes” feels like, then follow it. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, connect with your body, connect with the wisest part of you, and ask – what does a full body “yes” feel like? Say NO to everything that doesn’t elicit that solid YES reaction. You’ll still have plenty of amazing things to fill your calendar, especially during this time of year. Your time is valuable and in high demand – spend time following your “yes”, not pushing down your “no”.

3. Only commit to projects, parties, and people when you KNOW you will deliver. Everything on your to-do list will subtly drain your energy until it’s complete, so be deliberate, be selective, and be realistic. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone – you’re allowed to say “no” (or at least stay temporarily non-committal).

When you give generously to yourself first, a joyful generosity towards others will naturally emerge – because nothing feels better than making an impact in the life of a loved one or someone who needs it.

Happy Holidays!

Be Generous Without Sacrificing Yourself