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Suicide is NOT entertainment

UPDATED: November 14, 2010:

Just realized that I didn’t include the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in this post.   If you’re thinking about doing harm to or killing yourself, please call 1-800-273-TALK to speak with one of their counselors.  You are not alone.

Good #MHSM (Mental Health Social Media) – like all good social media – is about uniting people around common goals and building connections through the internets in the same ways that we build them in “real” life.  The Mental Health Social Media community is about giving people help and support that they may be afraid or unable to ask for in person.  Watching someone’s cry for help, then watching them not get it, is the antithesis of good social media and being a good human being.  Don’t blame the medium for creating the problem, blame yourselves.  Now get to reading and get to helping. – Deltra

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By now, you may have already heard about the Japanese man who broadcast his own suicide via UStream. If not, here’s some coverage of the story from Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/11/japanese-man-broadcasts-h_n_782140.html

Can someone please tell me what is going on in the world that we’re watching people off themselves online like it’s a music video?

Here’s a little bit of education, for people who have no experience with depression, despair, suicide, or suicidal people.  If someone comes out of their mouth talking about killing themselves, wanting to die, or mentions having attempted suicide in the past, THEY’RE NOT KIDDING. Don’t wait around, watching to see if they change their minds. GET HELP. I don’t know what drove that Japanese man to end his life, or to stream it live on the internet. But, according to reports, he tried to do it a few times during the broadcast before he succeeded in hanging himself.  If nothing more, his confession to wanting to die, and his previous attempt are actually enough to get him admitted to a mental hospital for observation.  Watching his limp body hang from the rafters is not the kind of “observation” a mental health professional would’ve envisioned for this man.  I’m not trying to be funny, but I’m trying to impress upon you that plenty of people are well trained to recognize the signs of suicide.  If you see them yourself, I’d feel better if you ignored the person than egged them on, or just watched the imminent demise.

Let me let you in on a little secret:  I have been, pun intended, at the end of my rope a few times in my life.  But even at my worst I’ve never even though about, let alone threatened out loud about, killing myself. Know why? Not because I’m better than anyone, but because I didn’t want to die.  The DESIRE to end your life, to shuffle off this mortal coil, and the belief that killing yourself is the solution to all your problems, is what separates the depressed and suicidal from the merely depressed yet hopeful.  Think, for a moment, about all the secrets and lies you tell yourself.  Now think about what it would take for you to confess them aloud.  Wanting to kill yourself is like the biggest, scariest secret in the world, one that lots of people hold onto for a long time before it sees the light of day because nothing is real until you say it out loud.  So you best believe that if someone says out loud, even once, “I want to kill myself”, don’t take it lightly.

My regular readers know that my best friend from high school killed herself by jumping onto the subway tracks.  Apparently she lived a short time before she succumbed to her injuries, but she still picked a pretty public and fairly fool-proof way to exit the world.  She didn’t announce to her fellow MTA passengers, “hey, I’m ’bout to jump off this platform, so you can watch or try to stop me”.  Still, I hope that if she did make that grand a gesture, someone would have snatched her back and called the police, or at least her mama.  I’m thinking that the friends and family of this Japanese man wish someone had actually listened to his repeated announcements.

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