September 27, 2022

The Editor speaks: Suicidal? Not much help here!

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Suicide is a subject we normally shy away from discussing. However, it is a subject that we should be discussing.

What steps are in place here for suicidal prevention?

What are the facts and figures of suicides, attempted suicides, etc.

Where can someone call for help?

The obvious place to look to answer the above is a search on the Internet.

What did I find?

The International Association for Suicide Prevention at: https://www.iasp.info/cayman/

What I found was, quite frankly, woeful. The Cayman information has not been updated since 2015 and its first entry was FAQs like “Do I Need a Visa/Passport to enter the Cayman Islands?

“Please review the following links for up-to-date information from the Cayman Islands Immigration Department…….”

Next up is:

Airport Owen Roberts International Airport – Grand Cayman
Lime Locations Anderson Square – George Town
Galleria – West Bay Road
Tortuga Rum Communication Station – George Town
West Bay Communication Station – West Bay
Internet Cafes/Coffee Shops Azzurro Coffee Shop
Café Del Sol Internet Coffee House
Carib Bean Cafe
Full of Beans Cafe
Dunkin’ Donuts

List of Post Offices comes next followed by Libraries, Will I Need a Vaccination?, What If I Get sick?, Can we camp?, Currency. Average temperature, public buses, taxi charges, and what time zone?

The only item pertaining to suicide prevention is an invitation to “participate in the 2nd Caribbean Regional Symposium. The overall theme is “Protecting our Youth: Suicide Prevention in the Caribbean Region,” reflecting a mental health priority in this region. ”

Don’t wast your time about going. It finished on December 5th 2015.

It has been left to our local media outlets to talk about suicide from other organisations like OnCourse Cayman and the Crisis Centre.

One of the media sites had a number to call on the same web page about suicide in huge letters. Unfortunately the number was an ad for Popeyes!

If you have suicidal thoughts the number to call is in fact The Crisis Centre at:

943-2422

However, when I tried it no one answered!

I had to go overseas to find anything helpful.

I found this:

Why People Commit Suicide

Understanding suicidal ideation can help prevent suicide.

By Shawn T. Smith Psy.D. Frpm Psychology Today

Suicide awareness campaigns highlight one of the most uncomfortable and perplexing questions about human behavior: why do people commit suicide?

From the standpoint of someone who is not currently suicidal – which is most of us, most of the time – it’s difficult to understand how a person could ignore survival instinct, disregard the good things in life, and foreclose every possibility of future happiness. Why can’t they see that they’re good people? Why don’t they understand that things will improve?

And if we have considered suicide ourselves in the past – which is most of us – it can be even harder to understand why they can’t shake it off. We want desperately for them to feel better.

Perhaps it is the perplexing nature of suicide that leads us to one of humanity’s old explanatory standbys: diagnosis and categorization. People who are suicidal are usually placed into categories such as “depressed,” “psychotic,” or “manipulative.”

That kind of diagnosing is done with the best intentions, I think, and with some reasonable hope of prevention. It works in some cases. For example, biological abnormalities like organic brain disease, medication reactions, or severe thyroid problems can make someone feel inexplicably suicidal. Problems like these have straightforward answers, and so proper diagnosis is vitally important.

But in the absence of an unequivocal medical diagnosis, categorizing suicidal behavior as something like “depressed” or “manipulative” doesn’t explain the problem and generally skirts the real source of suicidal ideation. There is a certain kind of thinking that fuels suicide, and for most of us it is a terribly difficult idea to sit with: suicide is problem-solving behavior. In the mind of someone considering suicide, the act may seem like an expeditious and effective way to eliminate pain.

Acknowledging suicide as problem-solving behavior is uncomfortable, I think, because it appears to edge dangerously close to endorsing the act. Nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t have to agree with the desire to die in order to empathize with the pain lurking behind that desire. The thought of suicide most often occurs when a person feels they have run out of solutions to problems that seem inescapable, intolerably painful, and never-ending (Chiles & Strosahl, 2005).

There is a powerful and natural temptation to argue with someone who is suicidal. We want to convince them that suicide won’t solve their problems. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the old bromide, “suicide doesn’t fix anything.”

From our perspective that may be true, but the person considering suicide may mistakenly perceive suicide as the only thing that will end their pain. Ironically, arguing this point can increase a person’s resolve to end their life. Luckily, it’s an argument in which we need not engage.

An alternative approach to suicidal ideation is to:

  1. Understand that to the mind of the person contemplating suicide, it appears to be an effective way to end their pain. We need not endorse suicide in order to understand that their pain seems to be intolerable, inescapable, and interminable. Most importantly, we can acknowledge that thoughts of suicide represents a desire to solve problems.
  2. Identify and discuss the sources of pain that exist behind suicidal ideation. When we shift the focus to the sources of pain, then we can discuss solutions other than ending a life. Often, the very act of putting words to vague and overwhelming feelings shines a light of rationality on our problems and expands our willingness to explore a broader range of solutions.

Negotiating the tricky waters of suicidal ideation is complicated business and should always be referred to trained and competent professional. If you are contemplating suicide, please contact one of these hotlines before you do anything else.

References:
Chiles, J.A. & Strosahl, K.D. (2005). Clinical Manual for Assessment and Treatment of Suicidal Patients. Washington, DC: American PsychiatricPublishing, Inc.

For an expanded discussion, please visit my related posting at ironshrink.com.

SOURCE: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ironshrink/201109/why-people-commit-suicide

In Cayman we have awareness programmes, numbers to call and LOCAL Internet websites for all sorts of things but SUICIDE is not there.

This is despite last  June Cayman27 reported:

One of Cayman’s leading mental health experts says there’s no denying the truth — we’re seeing an increase in the number of suicides in Cayman.

Mental Health Commission Chairman Marc Lockhart says it’s time to open the discussion on suicide.

“So we haven’t seen official data but I can say anecdotally that there has been an increase,” Dr. Lockhart said.

It’s believed at least three men have killed themselves since December.

“We can definitely say there’s been an increase over the last few years.”

SOURCE: https://cayman27.ky/2018/06/lockhart-suicide-rate-rising-in-cayman/

When someone is suicidal they want help NOW. Here, they’re not going to find it quickly enough.

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Comments

  1. While suicide is typically associated with the pain of mental illness (in particular depression and associated feelings of helplessness and hopelessness), there are sometimes specific situations that trigger suicidal actions such as breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, failing in school, being bullied, or experiencing abuse, loss or other trauma. It is important to learn these warning signs and what to do if you see any them in yourself or a friend.

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