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Signs of Spring — Blooming Flowers and an Increase in Suicide

In depression, flowers, health, life, spring, suicide, Uncategorized, wellness on March 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

Signs of Spring are everywhere.  Flowers are blooming, grass is getting green, and the bird songs and sunshine are waking me up each Spring Rosesmorning before my alarm clock.  Today, I took an exhilarating 15 mile bike ride through the country with a gentle breeze, billowy clouds in the sky, and sunshine. I feel the anticipation for the happiness that Spring brings.  It also reminds me, though, that we are approaching the season with the highest incidents of suicide. I have a background in psychology, counseling and human development and have worked with Malavenda Tree -- photo taken and owned by PCPopcollege-aged students my entire career.  My commitment to leadership, service and community engagement led me to serving on the Lafayette Crisis Center Foundation Board for several years — three of which as president.  During this time I became acutely aware of the needs of the community, especially those in our community who suffer from depression due to abuse, illness, bullying, and  mental disorders. During my time with the Crisis Center we focused on Suicide awareness and prevention especially in the Spring.

I don’t suffer from depression but I am a bit obsessive.  And Spring not only has many opportunities to put winter behind us but Spring also pulls us in many different directions.  The energy is welcome and the motivation is increasing but the projects whether “spring cleaning,” gardening, or yard work can be more than some of us can manage. I will admit it makes me anxious.  Making to-do lists, task lists, and having a plan of action helps — not just to make tasks manageable but to also keep your emotions in check.

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPopFor those who suffer from depression, it is hard to understand why everyone is so excited about the Spring.  It is difficult for anyone to make it through the holidays, the new year, and the stresses of winter but most get out of their funk when the first signs of Spring appear. So if you are the only one still feeling burdened with anxiety, despair, shame, and confusion — you may sink deeper. Individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression already feel like they are not normal — not like their healthy, happy friends.  When they continue to be depressed through Spring — and no one else is — this is often too much to handle.

For every student it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on getting through the semester after Spring Break.  It is also getting to the point of no return for students who have not kept up with their school work and have been in denial about their academic future.  If you are failing most of your classes and facing expulsion, Spring is the season of reckoning. No longer can this student avoid telling their friends and family that their college Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPopcareer is over.  To many, it seems like the end of the world and the shame is unbearable. And thus, Suicide is the second highest cause of death among college students (first is accidents).

For these reasons and more Suicide peaks in the Spring. Many still don’t realize that in the months of April and May there is a spike in suicides in the US and all of the northern hemisphere. We don’t think about it because it isn’t really logical in our minds.  In so many ways Spring has outward signs of happiness, hope, and a new beginning.  We become more active and motivated to begin new projects and engage in our communities. Perhaps this same energy and motivation explains why those who suffer from depression actually make plans to take their own lives in the Springtime.  What a juxtaposition.  They become more focused, more determined, and even in some cases, more angry and aggressive with severe mood shifts. A new beginning perhaps means the end.

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPopToday every community has local resources that are tremendously effective — when we’re aware of them and use them. The first step is being aware of the Warning Signs signs and Causes of Suicide.  Since untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide it is also important to understand what causes depression.  This includes drug and alcohol use/abuse, bullying, accident, illness, abuse, loss, unemployment and more.  (A more comprehensive list of the causes of depression may be found here.) Remember — There are almost ALWAYS warning signs of depression and suicide.

Suicide is preventable. But remember that Suicide does not discriminate, and it is a real issue in today’s society. There is one suicide each minute of each day and over 30,000 each year in the US. — 1350 of which will be college students. This issue, like Spring Rosesmany, needs to be confronted as a community.  If you want to help you should become AWARE of…

  • the people you love — call or visit with your family and friends and neighbors — check in regularly
  • take action if you observe any warning signs
  • be familiar with your local resources and reliable online information
  • get help from professionals — you’re not alone

If you suspect one of your loved ones or friends is contemplating suicide, you can help best by following these guidelines offered by the American Association of Suicidology and the Lafayette Crisis Center. Here is a summary of the guidelines:

  • Take Threats Seriously
  • Watch for Clues
  • Answer Cries for Help
  • Confront the Problem
  • Tell Them That You Care
  • Get Them Professional Help
  • Offer Alternatives

Malavenda Flower Garden -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

Don’t hesitate to call 911 — but if you find yourself with someone who is suicidal (and it is not an emergency), here are some tips for what to do while you are waiting for help to arrive (from Suicide.org).

  • Listen
  • Comfort
  • Be Concerned
  • Talk openly about Suicide
  • Don’t be judgmental
  • Be careful what you say
  • Listen some more (and then Listen)
  • Get professional help
  • Follow up regularly and often

If YOU are thinking about Suicide, read this first.  You should then visit a professional or call one of the Hotlines listed below including Spring Roses1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).  Each of these Hotlines and crisis centers are staffed by caring, trained staff who really want to talk to you.  In our community you may also call 2-1-1; and speak to a trained, non-judgmental person who can assist you in many ways. The 2-1-1 staff have information on important community services. So if you need essential human services – you are looking for training, employment, food pantries, help for an aging parent, addiction prevention programs for teenage children, affordable housing options, support groups and ways of becoming part of the community– 2-1-1 allows people to give help and to get help. If you need someone to talk to — just call.  Make it your first call. For more information on 2-1-1, click here (because it may not be available in your area — it is in mine). See below for more Suicide Hotline phone numbers.Malavenda Tree -- Robin -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

We must also work together to raise awareness of important resources in the community like the Lafayette Crisis Center and “2-1-1.”  Agencies like the Lafayette Crisis Center are offering services that are vital to the members of our community who need assistance — because the municipal and state governments are not going to in the near future. These agencies also need your support of time and money — please support the United Way and give directly to the Lafayette Crisis Center.

Malavenda Tree -- photo taken and owned by PCPop

Awareness — Empathy — Nonjudgmental Listening — Community Action. We all need to be aware that Spring is wonderful, but not for everyone. Sometimes all you need is to be aware — aware of what Spring Fever may bring — in addition to blooming flowers. If we work as a community to watch out for our friends, our family as well as our neighbors — depression can be overcome and suicide can be prevented.  Lastly, remember that YOU are not alone — and it will get better.

Now go out and enjoy the warmer weather, the beautiful flowers, and a new beginning.

Call 211 -- Get Connected. Get Answers.

Suicide Hotlines

  • Need Help Now?
    • Call 9-1-1
    • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
    • 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Text Telephone: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
  • Military Veterans Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)
  • Suicide Hotline in Spanish: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)
  • LGBTIQ Youth Suicide Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386)
  • For info on Suicide Hotlines in your state in US, click here.
  • For info around the world, click here.

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