12 Myths About Suicide

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Dear Blog,

I know I have been neglectful of you, and even somewhat insensitive of your needs, but I have a great reason, I promise you will be so proud of me! I am nearly done with my second book, and my days and nights have been consumed with trying to put the final touches with editing and such, you know how it is…:)

Today, I would like to share a piece of the book with you!

So, first off, the book is called A Teen’s Life. It looks at the lives of 10 different teenagers from across the globe. They are sharing their stories and struggles with me in a Dear Dr. Lulu format. I respond to their letters as best I can, and then I discuss their situations. It is statistics-heavy, it is sad and deep, but it is real. The stories are all real, but fictitious at the same time. It is essentially about youth suicide in a sense, but it is also about life, teen life. I am hoping that it serves as an eye-opener to the struggles of these youth, and hoping its readers (teens, parents, caregivers, the government, everyone) will come away with a better sense of understanding of the plight of teens and some simple but not necessarily easy solutions to tackle them.

Here is an excerpt from it. This is the portion that deals with myths about suicide. I am really proud of this…enjoy!

Before we embark on what we can all do to prevent suicide in our teens and youth, I think it is only proper to discuss some of the myths about suicide that are floating around. Debunking them will help increase awareness of their falsehood and help fill in some critical knowledge gaps.

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  • Suicide is not a real problem; As we all know, suicide is a real problem in our world today, it is now the second leading cause of death in our youth.
  • Asking or talking to your teen about suicide causes suicidal behavior; Talking about suicide not only increases awareness and puts an end to the shame and stigma, but it also helps teens explore other options and keeps open communication lines.
  • The person/family needs more prayers and more Jesus; while having a sense of belonging to a community or spiritual group is always encouraged and actually protective of suicide it does not in of itself prevent suicide. However many suicidal persons have been known to say that when they reached out for help, they were told they were being dramatic and selfish and needed to pray more.
  • Religious persons do not die by suicide; just this past summer we heard about the young American pastor who was active in the mental health arena, who actually lost his life to suicide, there have been many others including a Nigerian pastor as well.
  • Denial: It does not happen to our ethnicity or family (Blacks, Asians); this thought process as we know is erroneous, and Black kids were recently documented as attempting and dying by suicide at a higher rate than other races.
  • Only a professional can identify a child at risk for suicide; one of the reasons for this book and my work in the suicide arena is to increase awareness by educating everyone about the signs so we are all more empowered.
  • Once someone is suicidal, they will always be suicidal; for the most part, suicidal thoughts and behavior are situational and temporary. Most suicidal persons need to know that their feelings can and do pass once they are equipped with the right tools to deal with their thoughts, and have the necessary support they need.
  • Only people with mental illness are suicidal; When I was going through my suicidal stage, I had never been diagnosed with mental illness, I did, however, experience a lot of life challenges which shook my core and caused me to consider myself a failure and not worthy of life. During the financial crisis of 2008, there was a sharp rise in suicides as a result of the enormous financial losses these people had experienced.
  • Most suicides happen suddenly and without warning; we know that 4 out of 5 teens who attempt suicide leave a sign. The decision to suicide is hardly ever a one-off thing, it is usually a culmination of events over time leading to “overwhelmedness”, an inability to cope, and a perceived or real lack of support.
  • Someone who is suicidal wants to die; in all honesty, most suicidal people do not want to die. They simply want their pain, suffering and despair to end. They often feel like they have exhausted all their options and they also have the means to end their lives at that moment.
  • Someone who is threatening suicide is not going to carry it out; I like to say “do not underestimate the power of determination”. We can never be too sure that someone will not carry out their threat. We must, therefore, take every suicide threat seriously. Part of the reason suicide is on the rise is because these people don’t feel they have any support, they feel all alone.
  • People who die by suicide are selfish and taking the easy way out; because these people have been suffering for a while, majority of them actually feel like suicide not only puts an end to their suffering, it also frees them from being a burden. Many suicide attempt survivors say they feel their lives are a burden to those around them.

All in all, suicide is a complex issue, but suicide prevention must be front and center in everyone’s minds in today’s world. To find out more, you will have to wait a couple more weeks for the actual book!

TTYS

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He has been intentionally deliberate.

Dear Blog,

This week was fairly emotional and trying for me at work. I am nearing the end of my 2mo notice and the emotions are getting real and raw. I have had lots of patients find out both from me and from the nursing staff and they are not taking it lightly. I have had patients’ moms crying, I have joined my tears with theirs, and the s*** is getting real. But just like Julius Caesar, I must go forth. Isn’t that the definition of faith?… going forth in trust and belief?

I still struggle with the unknown future, and the uncertainty of not having an immediately apparent source of income, and still marvel at the guts it has taken for me to do this…

The first time I did something this gutsy was in 1999 when I started my own private practice only months after finishing residency. That. was. Trying! I had only one son, Papa. Luckily, I was breast feeding, so at least the poor kid had a somewhat steady source of nutrition. I, on the other hand would eat an apple for breakfast, some noodles for dinner and barely have enough for lunch in those early days before my private practice truly took off. I was terrified, unsure, flat broke, and diffident, but committed and determined, for so many reasons, top of which was my J-1 visa that was about to expire…“whaatt?? girl, you better get it together and get that practice started in that rural area of South Kakalaki that is a qualified HPSA (health professional shortage area) before you find yourself on the wrong side of 45’s great big wall…” my id said to my ego.

Even more gutsy was when I filed for divorce from my now ex-husband. Nervous, afraid, unsure, but determined to divorce a strong-willed “Africa-man” (broken English accent) to the pure amazement and shock and (probably pity) of my onlookers. Many of whom I know, not only thought, but also believed I had lost my mind…what?, you? Naija woman, filing for divorce??? whatever will your people say?? But he is such a quiet man, a good man, what did you do to him? have you done lost yar mind? you dey crase? who do you know ever did that in your family? what have you children become these days? no one wants to stay in their husband’s house anymore, what about your children, how will they manage? blah blah blah. To which I would reply something in the realm of “darling, I don’t expect you to understand…but, he is now single, so please introduce him to any of your available single sisters, cousins, nieces, etc…since he is such a good man…(swinging my hips and whipping my neck and walking away as I roll my eyes…)

Another time I did something very gutsy in recent memory was when I joined the United States Air Force at the age of 42…! Now, at this time, ma guys had probably decided I was a crazy kid that needed prayers…they all probably shook their heads in wonder, said a prayer for me, and commended me into the hands of God (thankfully) as they walked away in disbelief…but if they thought that was bad, then the news that I was getting married to a woman, or that I had gotten married to a woman, finally “broke” the proverbial internet and sent them all in a frenzy…! I guess with those instances in mind, it should not come to my “followers” as a surprise that I quit my day job with not so much as a replacement in its place, to pursue a passion (that potentially is non paying) while I have two sons in college. And bearing in mind that their completely absentee father is absolutely NO help, financially or otherwise… But, if by so doing, I am able to stop one single teenager from committing suicide or spiraling into the dark space of depression, then it was ALL WORTH IT!

I guess that is where my vision leaves their ordinary sight to set off, plotting its own path.

Bringing me back to the topic of today…

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In the past few weeks, I must say I have felt the hands of God more in my life than I can honestly say I have in recent memory.

Since deciding to take up this new journey of re-branding myself. It has been one revelation and one learning experience after another. I have now decided to trust that I have a guiding hand from above and let it do its work in my life.

From my chance encounters to my scheduled meetings, to my patients, to their parents, to my kids, to my extended and nuclear family, to my co-workers to my adversaries, it has all been one message of positivity after another. I have felt nothing but God’s hands on this chess board called my life. Through the transition thus far, He has been intentionally deliberate. I have seen him move Pawns, Queens, Knights, Bishops and Kings in my way, all to propel me to a new level of self-understanding and self appreciation. He has deliberately put the right people in my path, and what I do with them is entirely up to me. But put them in my path, He has. I can only liken the situation to the old days of Long Playing records (LPs), when we would select the record, place it on the gramophone, pick up the pin, and carefully place it on the desired track to play to our delight.

He has literally placed all kinds of helpers, advisers, new acquaintances, collaborators, teachers, mentors, and future team mates etc on the road with me. I shall give you the full details of each encounter at a later blog. Just know that, henceforth, I am a firm believer in the deliberateness of His actions in mine and everyone else’s lives. We all simply need to have our eyes open to these encounters and know that  He IS ever present and ever working. Whether good or bad, it is designed as He wants it. He might not give you fish, if He knows you already know how to fish, but He will supply you with the fishing rod, the hook and the worms, you will however have to find the river, and then cast your rod.

Has it all been good news along the way? absolutely not. Has it all been smooth sailing?, not at all. But through it all, through the disappointments and the good times, there has always been a hint of positivity in the air, and I deliberately choose that energy, no matter how tiny… I am still nervous about my decision, but no longer as much. I am still anxious that things will not be easy, but nothing good comes easy they say, so I must be doing something right. For I know deep inside that, indeed, it is well, and it is rated AG (all good)…

Cheers to the future!!

PS: My website dedicated to fighting teen depression and teen suicide, teenalive.com is LIVE, click the link to check it out!

      “when writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen”

“what you think of yourself is much more important than what people think of you”         ~anonymous

                                                                                             

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