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Battling the stigma of suicide

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  • lonepeakstudent Alpine, UT
    Dec. 17, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    Being someone who has been personally affected by suicide, suicidal thoughts, and depression the amount of misunderstanding on this forum sickens me.

    To suggest that I simply need more Jesus in my life is a gross over-simplification of the issue. Praying can be part of a solution, but it is not *the* solution. Depression is an incredibly complex disorder. Suggesting I simply "snap out of it" is an affront to me and merely pushes me deeper. This sort of societal misunderstanding needs to change at a fundamental level.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:10 a.m.

    Is allowing yourself to be slain, when you have the power to conquer those who would slay you, a form of suicide?

  • Kellie Wood Orem, UT
    May 1, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    When people get depressed they develop 'tunnel vision'. Their energy is so low that they can only think of themselves and how to survive like they're in a tunnel. They have no energy to see outside of the tunnel and how suicide will affect their loved ones. This is why we need to hospitalize anyone who is showing signs of sadness. Medication helps. Taking serotonin boosters like a tablespoon of flax seed oil or fish oil is powerful to boost energy to improve depression. Get a hormone panel blood test and correct the imbalances which will make a huge difference! (test for estrogen, progesterone) Low estrogen causes depression!
    Kellie Wood RN, BSN, MBA-ITM

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    April 30, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    @common twit

    I am hoping a few can read and consider the thoughts you have been willing to share here. I won't patronize you with petty advice to your struggle or submit what others should get from your comments. But I see value in reading your post. Being willing to listen and discuss this relative issue here (suicide) is very important.

    Unfortunately, too many are scared to talk about suicide or are embarrassed to do so. Rather it's an LDS based problem or not, suicide rates here are enough of an issue to put aside worrying about our faith's image or attacking it on the other end. I pray the thought of one's pain and possible loss of life would outweigh our pride and community labels.

  • DistantThunder Vincentown, NJ
    April 30, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    Suicide is a pain problem. It's no surprise that people use legal and illegal drugs and alcohol to reduce the pain they feel. The pain is real. One book said that the pain associated with severe depression registers in the part of the brain that registers the most intense pain as a person would have with a broken leg or broken back. Imagine the pain associated with a broken back and it never going away for days, weeks, months. For a person in pain to reach out for help, seems like it would even be more painful. Or failed attempts at reaching out, make the person feel even more hopeless. Many people heroically walk around with suicidal pain levels fighting to hold on.

  • Civil Salt Lake City, UT
    April 29, 2013 10:43 p.m.

    There is a direct correlation between altitude and depression. Higher altitude, higher rates of depression. You are welcome to google it.

    A study divided depressed subjects into three groups using different methods of treatment:
    - Those taking anti-depressants
    - Those exercising
    - Those using exercise and medication

    Those using exercise or exercise and medication did better than those using medication only.

    The worst thing a depressed person can do is what they FEEL like doing.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    April 26, 2013 5:30 p.m.

    @Superfluous-

    Then that stat must be correct on both counts. My two nieces (see above post) were both successful:
    One used the gun, the other a rope. The cowgirl/hunter knew what was no-fail. The RN knew also.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    April 26, 2013 4:30 p.m.

    @Fern-
    Yes!! And explore the anti-depressant connection. There's a ton of data on that aspect.

    ~~~~~~
    Lovely comments all, re: "being there, listening", etc. That does nothing about the next day when they are alone again. There are to many additional factors that can be a part of the stimulus to seek suicide.

    Two beautiful, educated, successful and bi-polar neices (on opposite sides of the family) chose to end their lives this way. They were both on the same Rx med. Further research showed a huge % of associated suicides with those users. Where is that study now?...

    It's a complicated dilemma with no easy answers. Let's listen AND be pro-active into all possibilities, in addition to counseling and nice talk. Life is too serious and previous to "talk" all problems away.

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    April 26, 2013 12:24 p.m.

    When you get involved in one of these situations, don't judge; them, or yourself.
    Pick up and look around you. Take the time to chat up those who seem distanced and see if you can help, and if you can't help them 1:1 - get them to someone with the skills to do so. But caring so they know, 1:1 is something everyone can do.

  • HotGlobe SAN RAFAEL, CA
    April 26, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    ClarkHippo, you doubled down on your claim that people are saying "99.9 percent of suicide in Utah is LDS caused." Ok, time to man up and quote some verifiable sources, or admit that you just made it up yourself.

  • Superfluous Anaheim, CA
    April 25, 2013 8:58 p.m.

    "She said 90 percent of those who commit suicide have an underlying mental illness"

    Of course they do because the DSM IV (Psychiatric bible) considers depression a mental illness.

    The majority do NOT call hotlines, or churches, or anybody. I remember doing research on it, although I don't remember the statistics now. Kids were the main concern,of course, but I believe it was people over fifty who were alone that made up a huge percentage. And, nobody cares or writes about it because those huge numbers reflect how hopeless many are in the U.S.

    I do remember one line of research: Twice as many women attempt, but twice as many men succeed because men like guns, and women like pills.

  • Government Man Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2013 8:31 p.m.

    I have dealt with three suicides in my life. They were unexpected and cut short lives that could have been improved. Now my family has to live with the thought that Grandpa and a Cousin got to such a dark place that they killed themselves. You ask why? But there are no clear cut reasons why. The ridicule and anger are very hard for the survivors. I hope the Lord can forgive those who have taken their own lives. But, we should not make it worse for the survivors, by ridiculing and blaming them for what happened. Lend a listening ear, and give support to those who have lived through these trying times!!

  • mhilton Lancaster, CA
    April 25, 2013 8:27 p.m.

    I am an MFT student at Cal State University at Northridge. We have had many discussions about this topic, and will probably have many more. I thought this article was very well done. I commend Greg Hundell for seeing a need in his school, but more so in the community and taking action to do something about it. If more people cared like he did, this would not be as much of a problem. A lot of prevention has to do with educating people about the signs of suicide and how to deal with suicidal ideation. I'm interested in tonight's broadcast on KSL. This is another great step forward in prevention.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    April 25, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    suicide can happen from so many different things - post war stress, eating disorders, abuse, mental illness, and the list goes on and on....

    Having dealt with a daughter with anorexia who thought about suicide at one point I can say for certain that there are no therapists or self help books or loving family members or medications that can be "the" cure. All of those things are worth while and all of those things should be utilized but there is only ONE thing after all is said and done that truly lifts a person out of darkness and into the light and that is faith in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Christ saved my daughter after all the other things failed. I understand not everyone believes in Jesus Christ and that included my daughter at one point in her life but with the encouragement of true friends she was invited to learn and that eventually lead to her own personal conversion. Since her personal conversion to the Savior all those bad thoughts are gone ... replaced with amazing self worth and light. Jesus Christ truly is the healer of souls. Amazing grace!

  • Albert Saint George, UT
    April 25, 2013 4:33 p.m.

    It troubles me when I hear folks say that the pressures of being LDS causes some to resort to suicide. Aren't these youngsters and others being taught about the Atonement, forgiveness, unconditional love and other teachings similar to these throughout their activity in the church? Could it be that some folks preach perfection and are not accepting of those who stumble or have challenges? Is that what stresses out kids and others when they sin or break the law and then they are too embarrassed to say anything? including to their friend and parents? If that's the case, much more emphasis needs to take place to teach the youth Christlike attributes and what the Atonement, repentance and forgiveness "really" means. And to those who feel qualified to judge..... Why have you been going to church all these years? Haven't you learned anything? If you fit into the Judge and perfection category, please re-evaluate your presence in church this Sunday and challenge yourself to start learning what is taught. Maybe a change of heart is what is needed so you can be understanding and help those to get over their struggles and live another day.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz Provo, UT
    April 25, 2013 1:38 p.m.

    Ernest made a serious comment! I never thought I would see the day.

    Thanks for this article. It is a topic that needs to be addressed instead of buried.

    On a related note April is child abuse prevention month. Did you know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18? We need to do more to address problems like suicide and child abuse!

  • Thomas Smith Sandy, UT
    April 25, 2013 1:33 p.m.

    When a suicide attempt occurred in my family, the most traumatic component was dealing with the police and Family Services. The most terrifying aspect in addition to dealing with all the emotional issues of the moment, is the terrifying feeling that you are going to jail, or that your child is going to be removed from your home.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    April 25, 2013 1:32 p.m.

    Badger brings out a good point. Is the true cause of increased depression of gay-inclined youth just the lack of acceptance, or is there more? What about committed LDS youth in parts of the world where the LDS church is a considered an odd minority, the laws are skewed against them, and persecution is frequent? The logic dictates that if there was nothing else involved in the gay depression, the faithful LDS youth or any other group persecuted in a hostile environment would be equally depressed. Plain common sense suggests this is not the case.

    An experiment to help understand depression. Train for a marathon. Two weeks before the marathon run a half-marathon as fast as you can. Before the marathon make a plan of what you are going to think in the last 6 miles. Run the first half of the marathon only one minute slower than your half-marathon time two weeks prior. In the last 6 miles compare your actual thoughts with what you planned to think. You will get a glimpse of what a depressed person is up against.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 25, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    My daughter who is in high school is friends with a fellow student who is a gay male. I have encouraged this friendship because I am aware of the higher suicide rate of young people who are gay. Since my kids were small I have taught them to go out of their way to befriend people who are not popular and to never tease or make fun of anyone.

    I am happy to be able to help with this problem in a small way.

    So far as the LDS religion effects on this problem, I have to think the teachings of avoid debt, and avoiding the health and other problems that come with smoking and drinking has helped reduce this problem. The teachings to young people that if/ when they commit sexual sin they have done something worse that everything but murder puts a lot of stress on young people which isn't helpful.

  • richd Martinez, CA
    April 25, 2013 12:01 p.m.

    As a parent of a child who committed suicide four years ago, you do not begin to know how painful their death is to the parents and siblings. I don't know the answers to this tradegy, but I sure wish I did. The only advice I would give is that for extended family members and friends to reach out to those left behind and reamin in constant contact with them.

  • JimInSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2013 11:54 a.m.

    I can not imagine the kind of emotional or physical pain and despair that a person must be enduring to come to a point that they see taking their life as the only way to find an escape. People so suffering need to understand the atonement of Christ; That there is a way to unburden themselves of the pain. Unfortunately, those around them that love them are unaware that the person is suffering until it is too late. And then they are left to question what they could have done to have prevented it.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    April 25, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    I liked this:

    [Re: stigma]'"And when you have that kind of reluctance to look at the issue, to admit that it exists, how are you ever going to try and solve this problem?" Grey said.'

    This "reluctance to look at the issue" could extend to less than obvious causes of depression.

    Due to my experience and things I have read, I think we need to look at hypothyroidism as a possible cause. It also answers the question: "Why Utah?"

    Until the introduction of iodized salt, Utah was the leading "Goiter" state. Now, many assume that hypothyroidism or goiter is not caused by lack of iodine because of the widespread availability of iodized salt, even though they also recommend avoiding table salt altogether--but while commercial products use only "plain salt."

    It was depressing for me to be coerced into trying antidepressants while ignoring my hypothyroid symptoms. I don't think many doctors here follow the recommendations of the AACE and ATA to check the thyroid before prescribing antidepressants.

    I would like to see tests screening TSH, FT4 and FT3 every 10 years, to also cover rare cases of hypopituitarism.

    You can't see what you don't look for.

  • washcomom Beaverton, OR
    April 25, 2013 11:47 a.m.

    What is at the root of suicide is a hopelessness - a feeling that one cannot go on with their lives as it is happening, and not knowing how to fix the problem. Some people keep to themselves. Others try and reach out, yet the telling signs are not being picked up by the family.

    The idea that the LDS church is the cause of many of the suicides within the church is wrong. It all starts from a mental aspect. It could be that some people just don't have the seratonin and/or dopamine levels necessary to function well. For someone to tell someone else to "snap out of it" or "pray yourself out of it" just doesn't understand the human body itself. It is the mental part of the human psyche that is malfunctioning. When there is a drop in these chemicals, the person feels unsupported. Because of the drop in the levels, they cannot function well.

    Educate yourself on these aspects before you come across someone who is thinking of suicide. You never know when you will need that info to help save someone's life.

  • common twit Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2013 10:42 a.m.

    As one who has struggled with suicidal thoughts since my early twenties (I am now 50), I hope to offer some insight into suicide. To see where I am coming from, I will tell a little about my demographic. I am white, lds, highly educated and have a loving supporting family. I have had extensive therapy and have been medicated.
    Suicidal people do not care about going to hell or anything like that. That would be a much better place than they are in now. No matter how hard good intentioned people try, suicidal people are unable to see the positive. Or they don't believe others are telling the truth. Suicidal people are often jealous of others that have died. Suicidal people can find few redeeming qualities about themselves. The irony there is that others see the good things.
    What has gotten me through the three imminent attempts is this...I would tell myself this, "I may kill myself someday but today I am going to stay alive until tomorrow." I truly believe I will kill myself someday but maybe I can stay alive one more day until I die naturally.
    Just my thoughts.

  • amazondoc USA, TN
    April 25, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    @Bridger --

    "what the suicide rate is among LDS members..."

    According to a study from BYU on young men in Utah, kids that were *most* active in the church had lower suicide rates than the national average. LDS kids that were not as active, and non-LDS kids, all had suicide rates much higher than the national average.

    "perhaps...homosexuality is a psychologically unhealthy lifestyle."

    LGBT suicides are **known** to increase significantly with bullying, homophobia, and familial rejection. LGBT depression and drug use also increase significantly when new discriminatory laws are passed.

    Nationwide, LGBT kids are 3 times as likely as straight kids to feel unsafe at school, and nearly **all** LGBT kids -- 90% -- have been harassed and/or assaulted at some point during the previous year. According to FBI data, the risk of being victimized by violent crimes is roughly **8 times** higher for LGBT people than for straights.

    in 2011, a study in the journal Pediatrics found that conservative social environments significantly increase the risk of suicide for *all* youth, and especially for LGBT kids.

    These problems are obvious and their effects are huge. But you want to focus on blaming the kids?? REALLY??

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    I've felt the pain from suicide several times, in cases of both close family and friends. In some cases I've tried desperately to intervene and others that were completely "out of the blue". I've even felt the frantic downward spiral of thinking that has given me some personal insight into the pattern that leads to suicide.

    I've come to conclude that there are **many** reasons and precursors to lead people to the act, but that it is usually preceded by a deep and usually chronic introspection which tends to exclude others. This closed perspective seems to almost always result in a seemingly inescapable prediction of an inevitably dismal future.

    Though I know it doesn't always work, my best advice for the "others" is to simply do one's best to be a friend and companion and get the person involved in **something** that will break them out of their inward obsessions and restore some fighting spirit. Good, professional therapy if possible. Try to let the person know that you love them.

    It's a very hard thing to cope with, for the person and for everyone who knows and loves them.

  • ClarkHippo Tooele, UT
    April 25, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    @HotGlobe

    You said, "No, ClarkHippo, nobody is claiming as you say that 99.9 percent of suicide in Utah is LDS caused..."

    Nobody except those who make their living attacking the LDS Church, along with those who follow their websites, or those who comment on the website of Salt Lake's other prominent newspaper.

    @klink

    You said, "ClarkHippo, maybe you should read the article."

    Actually I did read the article, but since I knew somebody was going to simply blame the LDS Church for nearly all the suicides in Utah (Just like the LDS Church is blamed for all the other negative statistics related to Utah) I decided to beat them to the punch.

    My point was, those who continually shout, "This is the LDS Church's fault" are ignoring the fact that:

    1. Utah's population is becoming more and more diverse. We're not all just white Mormons anymore.

    2. There are many factors related to suicide, as mentioned in the article.

    3. There have been some Utahns who have committed suicide even though they're not LDS.

  • beetdiggingcougar Vancouver, WA
    April 25, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    I know this doesn't seem like a big thing, but changing the words we use will help as well. There are several media outlets that no longer use the term "committed suicide" as that is based in the belief that it was a crime and the offender wouldn't be allowed to be buried in certain cemeteries. The phrase "he/she took his/her own life" might help in removing the stigma for those left behind.

  • CT98 Saint George, UT
    April 25, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    Our community in Saint George is reeling with this issue right now as a young 13 year old girl took her life Sunday morning. It has really affected many here and there was a special program on one of the popular radio stations this morning discussing how we can talk with our kids about this problem. Very sad. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

  • Bridger Midway, UT
    April 25, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    The high demands of the LDS church are what has kept many I know from resorting to suicide. The deep conviction that there is something worth looking forward to beyond the trials of this life has been an immeasurable rock keeping many LDS people from falling so far into depression that it resorts to suicide. I'd be curious to see what the suicide rate is among LDS members compared to the national average.

    @amazondoc- I really wish we could have an honest discussion about the LGBT issue without one side resorting to name-calling and vicious attacks. No one is allowed to take up the case that perhaps the suicide rate among LGBT teens and older is not only about public rejection, but that homosexuality is a psychologically unhealthy lifestyle. Call it God or nature, is it possible that there is something within the practitioner that has a difficult time completely accepting the lifestyle. The few studies conducted that suggest psychological harm from homosexuality have been shouted down in the academic community and quickly made to disappear. Lets add that to our list of issues that we are unwilling to honestly and completely engage when discussing suicide.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    April 25, 2013 9:23 a.m.

    Look around you, cheer up the sad or depressed souls you see with a smile and give them a reason to hope, that reason being someone sees value in them as a person, and cares about their happiness. It can make all the difference.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 25, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    There are many, misunderstood reasons why people commit suicide. In many instances the judgement for the deceased continues after their death. I hear more comments about it being "the easy way out" than comments showing true compassion. Perhaps people should stop judging others and just reach out.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    April 25, 2013 8:54 a.m.

    In one of our lds wards there was a suicide, prompting a woman to request an opportunity to speak to the ward adults about the subject...shortly afterwards that ward experienced 2 more suicides and the leaders wished they had not brought up the subject. In Japan a 16 yr. old girl stopped by our lds building to talk about her decision to commit suicide...we missionaries fortunately did not understand what she was saying, being so "green" and not yet proficient in the language, we proceeded to just teach her the first missionary discussion...she returned again and again and was baptized as the brightness of hope and light of the gospel touched her heart.

  • relinda GAINESVILLE, GA
    April 25, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    Being a memeber of the Church of Jesus Christ LDS actually helped me many years ago not to do that step. I also have a Son who commited Sucide after a tour in Iraq, 2008. He had Post Trauma Stress diorder. Many people who take their own life have been abused somewhere, sometimes in School, sometimes elsewhere. That they feel they are not worth anything. Thats why our Religion teaches to show love and support to everyone. Periods of depression are experienced by many people. I agree with Albert Maslar CAP.

  • amazondoc USA, TN
    April 25, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    @ClarkHippo --

    "People who have either been disowned or belittled by their LDS family and friends because they are gay or lesbian."

    Rejection of LGBT youth *is* a very important facet of youth suicide nationwide, with or without the LDS church.

    According to a US Government study, called Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, LGBT youth are roughly FOUR TIMES more likely to attempt suicide than straight kids. Around 1/3 of ALL LGBT kids have attempted suicide at some point, according to some studies.

    Suicide attempts are especially likely in LGBT kids who have been rejected by their families, who have been bullied, and who have experienced institutionalized homophobia.

    Of course, all of these problems are more likely to occur in conservative states where a large percentage of the population considers homosexuality to be sinful.

    I find it very telling that none of these facts were mentioned in *either* of the DN articles regarding suicide.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    April 25, 2013 8:19 a.m.

    Re: "ClarkHippo, maybe you should read the article."

    klink, maybe you should read ClarkHippo's whole post.

  • klink Provo, UT
    April 25, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    ClarkHippo, maybe you should read the article. It's people like you that are actually part of the problem. You're so quick to blame to the LDS church for all problems in Utahs, and because of that, you fail to see the real problems, and therefore cant help to correct them. Maybe you should also read Alberts comments also. He seems top capture some general reasons people commit suicide, and yet no where does he link all suicides to the LDS church..

  • HotGlobe SAN RAFAEL, CA
    April 25, 2013 7:54 a.m.

    No, ClarkHippo, nobody is claiming as you say that 99.9 percent of suicide in Utah is LDS caused, but yes, the two issues you described have been raised repeatedly, and with good reason. Notice, however, that this article mentions mental health, divorce, health problems, job loss, drug and alcohol use, but completely ignores the elephant in the room. This reporting is irresponsible because it contributes to the climate in which the many people with LDS-related suicidal impulses feel ignored and hopeless. Will somebody go kill them self after reading this article? Probably not immediately, and certainly not just because of this article, but it will add to despair. Reporter Emiley Morgan’s cover-up approach doesn’t just ignore the problem; it is the problem.

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    April 25, 2013 7:36 a.m.

    Military suicide deaths in 2012 were 349 versus 295 who died fighting in Afghanistan. Suicides in the US are the tenth leading cause of death, exceeding those from autos, and the third leading cause of death among the young, about 4,400 per year. These may be mostly from bullying and social problems, and not to be underestimated is pessimism about unending wars during lifetimes of the young. Suicide rates rise during recession, economic crisis, stress, and a general feeling of hopelessness, while suicide warning signs are missed until too late. Breakdown in basic family units removes a vital safety net, and the popularity of lottery is significant in that it shows that too many feel that winning the lottery is their only hope out of the economic morass affecting them. Welfare is not enough as more jobs are needed but nothing can be done for people, only fictional environment problems get all the grease.