Pastoral Suicide


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Pastoral Suicide
Comments by Pamm - 29 Jul 2009

As a follow up to the post regarding suicide and my response to several of the posts, I would like to add a few words regarding the link between suicide and depression and how we can help someone who might be dealing with these problems. There are two issues to consider. One is awareness that clinical depression has serious and severe effects on an individual. The other is not only knowing what to do and say but also being willing to do so.

Depression creates isolation, helplessness, and actual physical as well as mental pain. It also drastically affects one’s ability to think rationally or accomplish even the most basic of tasks. It takes away all hope. Due to concerns of societal judgments or embarrassment, and the lack of rational thinking, the depressed person often either hides these feelings if they have to deal with others, or lies about how they are feeling, and/or withdraws from contact as much as possible.

Here is a list of things that each of us can do should we even suspect that someone we know might be depressed or headed for depression:.

Look for signs: withdrawal, excuses for not doing things the person use to do/enjoy (even when the excuses sound reasonable), irritability, irrationality, elevated personality, denial

Show your concern: talk, drop a card, send an e-mail, acknowledge that the person is having a hard time, be willing to listen, offer comfort, do a favor or a kindness, send flowers, run an errand, have a meal delivered, stay in touch one way or another on a regular basis, lend your ear whenever there is need, be sympathetic, be supportive, reach out in any active manner you can without being intrusive

Resist Triteness: don’t ask if they are feeling better today, don’t tell them they will feel better soon, don’t say things like “everyone has blue days”, don’t tell them if they would just get out of the house they will feel better, don’t tell them you know just how they feel, don’t ask “are you depressed?”, don’t tell them they are not thinking clearly

Be There: depression is not a like the flu, one has to be there for the long haul. It is true that people who are depressed can be “depressing to be around”. Imagine what it must be like for the depressed person. Just as with any serious illness, depression is also hard on the caregivers. It is tempting to remove one’s self, particularly when the depressed person is fending one off and isolating themselves, but as loving, caring and concerned individuals it is our charge to not withdraw. Just as we have never been given up on, we should not do so.

The vast majority of non substance abuse suicides are closely linked to those suffering from clinical depression. Suicide is preventable because with care, concern, and constancy depression is treatable and curable. Being willing to reach out and be there can be the one ray of hope for a clinically depressed person .That hope can save a life.

Thanks for reading this.