Suicide | Suicide Prevention |Talking about Suicide
The real truth about suicide is not that suicide rates are on the rise, but that it has been rising for some time now. If people did not notice before, they are paying attention now.
With the recent deaths by suicide of American designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and culture journalist Anthony Bourdain, Social Media is gawking about why such apparently successful people would take their lives. Did they struggle with depression? Were there clues and signs given? And perhaps more important to those who live in fear that their loved ones will choose to take their own lives, could these suicides have been prevented?
Because I believe in honest and non-judgmental talk about suicide, the following post is a balance between understanding the statistics around the 10th highest cause of death in the United States, the care that providers are bound to give by license, and the personal experiences of this therapist, with any incidences or persons anonymized and depersonalized to protect the privacy of others.
Please check your own triggers before reading the rest of this post.
The morning sunlight hit the red-tinged leaves that signal Fall’s inevitable approach. Trail running along one of the paths nearby my home, I listened to the sound of my footfalls and my breath cycle, deeply immersed in the joy of running.
After the first fifteen minutes or so, the effort of running changes from the initial discomfort of ramping up the pace from a standstill to the zen-like quality of meditation in motion. Running has often been a place of solace and rejuvenation for me, a place to deposit myself before I return to the real world: responding to crisis and employing my skills and attention to the privilege of helping others.
As I began to run up a short embankment with a neighborhood access point to a street, I passed a dog owner walking three dogs. As it is my custom, if a dog is not on a tight leash, I give dogs a very wide berth to avoid startling them or giving them reason to attack. As I moved far to the right of the owner and the dogs, the dog furthest on the dog owner’s right lunged towards the back of my leg and bit me.
After the owner saw blood running down my leg, the dog owner asked if I needed her help: a ride home, bandages, etc. My first response was to tell her I would just walk home, that I was “OK” but it hurt, that I only had five more miles to go.
But that was ridiculous. The wounds gaped, the torn fascia hung outside of the broken skin, blood was filling my shoe, and the pain was so bad that tears were involuntarily shedding and rolling down my face. I sat down on a rock nearby, and then told the dog owner that I needed a ride home to pick up my car and my ID for the Urgent Care facility nearest to me.
I needed help. And I needed to be flexible to handle the very real emergency that had just occurred.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you find if difficult to ask for and receive help, even when it is clearly needed? Do you find yourself frozen or rigid, trying to keep to a schedule or a plan instead of adapting to the circumstances you find yourself in during an unexpected moment.
Mental Health | Gut Health | Microbiome | Immunity
Is there a connection between mental health and gut health? And if so, is the connection in one direction, or in both directions? That is, can your brain’s health influence your gut function, and can your gut health have an influence on your brain, and thus, mental health?
Last month, I arrived two minutes before a six-hour continuing education lecture on the subjects of immunity, inflammation, and the gut microbiota was slated to begin, and there were but a few seats left in the crowded hotel conference room. Apparently, I picked a hot topic! The majority of the participants were nurses and doctors, and based on the speed of the note-taking I witnessed, there was great interest in the topic. However, I wouldn’t expect the average person to care, even though I think everyone should.
For you, I will disseminate those six hours of lecture into the best takeaways for you regarding the connection between your gut and your mental health. For our purposes here, I’ll try to keep the medical terminology simple and on point about its connection to brain health and mental health.