Advice For Those Who Support Your Bipolar Disorder About Suicide

Suicide attempts are a real concern for persons with bipolar disorder. It is estimated that of the suicide attempts in the United States by persons with mental illness, up to 70% suffer from major depression disorder and/or bipolar disorder. Not only is it important, therefore, for a person that supports an individual with bipolar disorder to understand the warning signs preceding a suicide attempt, it is also important to know exactly how to handle the situation should you believe they are serious or they tell you they are going to commit suicide. If you are a person that has bipolar, these tips can be invaluable to your support group in an instance where you are unable to reach out for support.

Why A Person May Want To Die
It is common opinion that committing suicide is a selfish act. Objectively, this is true. Friends and family are left with overwhelming guilt and anger, wondering what they could have done differently to stop their loved one from such an act. Children with a parent that attempts or succeeds in committing suicide are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide themselves than other children. Marriages where a child succeeds in committing suicide often end in divorce.

Unfortunately, a person that attempts suicide can no longer see the act as selfish. For them, suicide becomes a last resort to escape what has become unbearable. They see no other option. It is important to understand that it isn’t an issue of the person not wanting to see they have any other option. It is a matter that they can’t see any other option, at least not in that moment of decision. It is like asking a person to walk on air. It isn’t going to happen. Most suicides are an act of passion in the heat of the moment. Fewer are actually planned out, and usually by those that have attempted suicide before. However, the root cause is still one of two reasons.

  • A major traumatic event has occurred in a person’s life such as financial ruin, loss of a loved one due to break-up, divorce or death, etc.
  • constant struggle and pain of living with a difficult situation, such as bipolar disorder, has destroyed the mental capacity and reasoning of a person to a degree that they no longer want to live. They believe they are an unwelcome burden in other’s lives and feel friends and family are better off without them. They actually are past the point of pain. They are mentally exhausted and numb, incapable of rational feeling.

Warning Signs
A person considering suicide is not likely to openly admit that fact. However, there are signs that this is where their thought process is headed, sometimes before they themselves realize or admit suicide is an option. The more signs a person shows, the more likely it is that they are considering suicide.

  • They may make comments such as, “You would be better off without me”, “I just don’t think I can do this anymore”, “I am tired of living”, “I feel trapped”.
  • They may withdraw from you and/or activities they normally enjoy, isolating themselves. You may notice they begin to give vague answers when asked how they feel or suddenly stop talking or seeing you.
  • You may notice changes in their personal hygiene, no longer taking care of themselves as they become increasingly unconcerned with things around them.
  • They may attempt to give prized possessions away.
  • Their sleeping habits may change, either sleeping very little or too much.
  • They may begin to abuse alcohol or drugs.
  • They may express an interest in getting their affairs in order, or actually do it.
  • They may seem easily irritated or become more aggressive.
    They may suddenly become calm and happy.
  • What To Say To A Person That May Be Suicidal

  • Let them know you care and you want to be there for them if they can or want to talk.
  • Let them know you are willing to listen without judgement and won’t offer advice unless they ask.
  • Check up on them. More than once. A person considering suicide may not ask for help or call you as they get worse. They will take your silence as evidence that their reasons are valid.
  • Give them the National Suicide Hotline phone number – 800.273.8255 (800.799.4889 for deaf individuals). Encourage them to call so they can talk to someone else that is an objective, trained professional. Assure them they are still also welcome to talk to you.
  • Don’t be afraid to gently ask them if they are considering harming themselves. Assure them you are asking because you care.
  • Never accuse them of being dramatic or selfish. Don’t engage in confrontational conversation. Don’t ask them to promise they won’t and expect them to follow that promise.
  • What To Do When A Person Tells You They Are Going To Commit Suicide

  • Never ignore what they say. Don’t tell them they are being dramatic or selfish. Don’t engage in confrontational conversation. Do not ask them to promise you they won’t and expect them to follow that promise.
  • Do NOT try to handle the situation yourself. Call their local police department (call 911 and ask them for the person’s local police department so you can report a potential suicide attempt). When calling, tell the police you need to request a mental health check due to threat of suicide. Ask the police department if they have officers trained in handling mental illness crisis and request those officers are the ones dispatched.
  • If possible, remain in contact with the person until officers arrive. There is no need to tell the person you called police. The officers will handle everything according to protocol once they arrive.
  • Tell the person what they mean to you and how it would effect you to lose them. Encourage them to talk to you about how they feel. Name people that love them and would miss them. Talk about anything to try to take up time while officers are on their way.
  • Final Thoughts
    To a person that has never considered suicide, the thought of taking your own life will seem unfathomable. Try to understand that to the person who wants to end their life, continuing to live seems just as unfathomable. Following the advice above can save a life and help a person want to live.

    Keeping A Journal – Suggestions

    Inpatient stays and outpatient programs taught me much. Everyday, I use the tools I was taught to help manage my bipolar 2 disorder. Although there are many, in my opinion, keeping a journal has proven to be one of the most effective tools I was taught to use. However, at first, I wasn’t easily convinced that it was something I could do, and I wasn’t really keen on the idea.

    I was in an outpatient program when given my first empty notebook. Those blank pages overwhelmed me! You might find that interesting considering the fact that I love to write short stories and poetry. I have even dabbled a few times with writing lyrics. But this was different. I was being asked to write down my personal thoughts, not words I could hide behind in a land of dark fantasy.

    However, I found it was like a muscle. The first time I used it, it hurt and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. I felt very clumsy trying to journal. Was my technique and form correct? If looking, was anyone going to laugh at me? Was this really goingto do me any good or was it a useless activity? I couldn’t stand how weak several (hundreds?) of entries felt and seemed. Several times, I wanted to give up.

    But like any other muscle, the more I used it, the better I felt and the more ways I figured out how to refine and strengthen it. It has almost become an addiction! I feel an urge to journal daily (sometimes more than once a day) and if I skip, I miss it. I feel light and free after I journal. It helps me to see patterns in my moods. I use it as a reference to go back to when needed.

    Have you tried to keep a journal? Here are some tips if you would like to try:

    • Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on a journal. You can if you want to, but what’s important is what is on the inside, not how it looks on the outside.
    • Set a time aside just to journal. It doesn’t have to be long. An entry of a couple of paragraphs is great! And, if you get interrupted in the middle of an entry, shrug it off and start a new one next time.
    • Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Just write!
    • Don’t worry about writing neatly.
    • If you miss a few or more days, don’t give it up or feel like you have failed. Pick back up as soon as you are able.

    My first entries were short. Now, they are longer and you will notice that I have added a few things more than just writing my thoughts. Here is what and how I currently journal:

    • First and foremost, with absolutely any thought that pops into my head, I write it down. You may laugh at the times I have written, ‘What should I write now? I can’t think of anything else.’ When I write that, I have learned to recognize that I am usually trying to push negative thoughts out of my head so I don’t have to think about them. It’s always those embarrassing or dark thoughts that are the hardest to admit in written form. I had to train myself to allow any thought I had make it down to my fingers and out of the writing utensil because it was the negative ones that I didn’t want or think I could work through!
    • Thoughts¬†I write can be anything. Victories, failures, complaints, fears, humor, self pity, secrets…you name it, I force myself to write it. It can be brutal. It can be irrational. It can be insightful.
    • When I write, I make sure to spend time and expand on the topic, trying to see it from every side. If it is a victory, I document how I got there, how it made me feel, and the benefits I noticed. If it is a complaint, I document what validity I feel it has, what a devil’s advocate may think, and what I intend to do to fix it. Get the picture?
    • I also write two short term goals to be accomplished in the next 24 hours, as well as one long term goal that I am working on. The next time I journal, I make sure to look at those goals. If I didn’t achieve them or aren’t done with them, I simply write it as a goal again!
    • Finally, I journal positive affirmations. If you haven’t tried positive affirmations before, Google it for a definition, how it can help, and suggestions to start you out. For me, I started with a generic list of 5 that I found with Google. I currently have 18 that are very personalized. That list grows, but it never shrinks! Every time I journal, I write my list.

    So, what and how do you journal? Your comments could help me to refine my muscle even more to get stronger! If you aren’t keeping a journal now, I hope you try it. Be patient and just do what feels right, but be honest and let those thoughts go!

    Happy journaling!

    Am I Bipolar? The Answer May Surprise You.

     

    Right off the bat, let me answer with a defiant ‘NO’ (but read on please!). I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am an aunt. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a Dallas Cowboys fan! I am many other labels, with some that aren’t very complimentary in my opinion! However, there is one particular label that I refuse to accept. In fact, it tends to make my blood start to boil. I am NOT mentally ill (keep reading!).

     

    Yes, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 and generalized anxiety disorders in 2007. Yes, I work hard everyday to manage life to some degree of my own defined success. And yes, there is rarely a time when I am not aware of how my actions, thoughts, and words affect me and others because of my bipolar and anxiety disorders.

     

    I still refuse the label. But, it isn’t because I deny the illness. Instead, I try to embrace it. So, my point? Consider this:

     

    I am a home. I have a home.

     

    See the difference? I have mental illness. Mental illness doesn’t define me. I am more than my mental illness. It plays but a portion of what I am as a whole, just like a home is only part of what makes you up as a whole. I don’t think this way because I minimize mental illness nor its role in making my life a challenge. I think this way because I refuse to be just my illness. I instead, demand that I accept it as only one part of me.

     

    Dealing with mental illness is difficult. I struggle with it on a daily basis. Many times, the victories seem small and the failures huge. Still, I count my blessings. I try and think carefully before anything. I am compassionate. I am patient. I always endeavor to be mild and kind. I appreciate simple joys. I am thankful for every breath I take. Those are all positive blessings. I feel blogging for you is another one, and I hope it adds something positive to your life, also. I plan to share my story and thoughts, help educate us, try to erase negative opinions, and more.

     

    So, for today, I leave you with a few other labels I cherish. I am a survivor. I am a warrior. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am loved. So are you. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Bipolar Winds and thank you for reading.