Two books with provocative titles prompted this blog. First, Understanding Suicide’s Allure, by Dr. Krippner*, et al. And One Mind: How Our Individual Mind is a Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters, by Larry Dossey, MD.
The following is an overview of what I gleaned from reading their material. And as a member of this community, you will appreciate the latest findings on this complex topic.
“Suicide is one of the most shocking events on the canvas of human existence. It often comes as a surprise not just to loved ones, but to healthcare professionals as well.” – Dr. Dossey
Let’s keep this in mind and consider joining me Saturday, October 1, 2022 at the Out of theDarkness Walk: https://supporting.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=8463
Curiosity is what sparked Dr. Krippner and his three colleagues, Linda Riebel, PhD, Debbie Joffe Ellis, PhD, and Daryl S. Paulson, PhD. to begin their odyssey. They wondered, “Why, after millions of years of evolution and the development of adaptive traits to produce human beings, do some people end their lives prematurely?” Their question resulted in over fifty chapters in their book.
- An evolutionary perspective can explain suicide. Expect to see suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the foreseeable future.
- The field of suicidology covers a vast number of issues. But three main groups are the foci of this book. These include combat veterans, the sexually accosted, and those who have been bullied. The allure of suicide is especially powerful in these groups.
- As Dr. Krippner notes, “As far as I know, this is the only mainstream suicide text that discusses life after death. It is also the only one that devotes two chapters to the use of psychedelics-assisted psychotherapy to work with depressed, suicide-prone patients.”
There were another eight findings concluding with:
- Suicide is a public health issue that sometimes reaches epidemic proportions. One person’s suicide usually affects dozens of other people. The effects are almost always negative.
The authors use the term allure to describe those who find the idea of killing themselves compelling. Allure is tempting, enticing, and even irresistible. For people in unbearable pain, suicide’s allure can be all three.
The term suicide-prone describes people at risk of killing themselves.
Unfortunately, a 2019 study found some alarming statistics. Sixty percent of successful suicides had NOT expressed any suicidal thoughts beforehand.
Even when asked.
In addition to the main foci groups, several others are at risk. These include farmers, teens, children, the lonely elderly, those in chronic pain, minorities, and the sleep-deprived. Each chapter has Takeaway Points, and many have real-life case studies.
The following are among the dozens of specific Takeaway Points that were new to me:
- Suicidal people may be sad, but sadness alone rarely triggers suicide.
- There is no dependable marker for suicide, but childhood trauma is one commonality.
- Dreams and nightmares can be useful predictors of suicide attempts. And there’s evidence that dreams and nightmares are more accurate predictors of suicide. More accurate even than an at-risk person’s waking thoughts and behaviors.
The sections most pertinent for me were about the Highly Sensitive and Teenage Suicides.
Krippner and colleagues shared: About one in five people identified as highly sensitive die by suicide. Highly sensitive people have a few common traits. These consist of heightened reactions of the five senses, acute awareness of even slight interpersonal difficulties, and a tendency to ruminate. Krippner, et al., went on to reveal, “An exhaustive study of the literature failed to support the claim that the suicide rate is usually higher among gifted students because of their alleged emotional sensitivity.”
I also learned a bit of history about the first organized attempt to prevent suicide. It began in 1958 with the founding of the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center. Then, in 1966 the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center for the Study of Suicide Prevention opened.
Krippner and colleagues stated, “Prevention falls into three stages:
- Primary prevention means educating the public about a risk
- Secondary prevention identifies those individuals who are at risk
- Tertiary prevention means treatment of those at risk before they act
The To the Reader section identified the following Prevention Resources:
- Telephone hotlines
- Rescue organizations
- Building Barriers at suicide ‘hotspots’ (example: our own Vista Bridge in Portland, OR)
Finally, the Bad News and Good News section stated:
The bad news comes from suicidologist and author Kristine Bertini. Her excellent book on the topic is Suicide Prevention. She says, “If someone decides that they are going to die, they will eventually find a way to kill themselves.”
The good news is that for each instance of suicidal thoughts, there are interventions. Real interventions that can alter the course of action. The key is for the suicidal person to reach out for help. Or for another concerned person to help propel the suicidal person toward assistance.
In conclusion, please remember, you are not alone.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
- Stop a Suicide Today, 1-781-239-0071
- Centre for Suicide Prevention (Canada), 1-833-456-4566
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, 1-202-467-8180
- National Institute of Mental Health, 1-866-615-6464
- The Office of Minority Health, 1-240-453-2882
- National Organizations for People of Color Against Suicide, 1-800-273- TALK (8255)
- The Dougy Center, 1-503-775-5683
- American Association for Suicidology, 1-202-237-2280
*Stanley Krippner, PhD, is a member of the American Association of Suicidology and the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. He has coedited or coauthored five books on trauma, including Integrated Care for the Traumatized: a Whole Person Approach. He is a fellow of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and Violence, and the 2002 recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Advancement of International Psychology. Dr Krippner was introduced to me by my dear friend and colleague, Jean Fox in the summer of 2020.
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
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