Such sadness and tears I have discovering that troubled country singer Mindy McCready, only 37, has died of an apparent suicide, as the result of a single self-inflicted gunshot after also shooting her dog.
It brought back the memories I experienced when my own late husband, Martin, took his life in 2010. I’ve come far as a ‘survivor’ of suicide (yes that’s what we are called, family and loved ones of those who took their lives via suicide).
The Associated Press reports that her body was found 4pm Sunday (2/18/2013) on the front porch of her home in Heber Springs, Arkansas, after neighbors heard gunshots and called the police.
McCready leaves behind two children, 6-year-old Zander and 9-month-old Zayne. Her death also comes just a little more than a month after the suicide death of her boyfriend, songwriter David Wilson, age 34.
So many people have asked me for information in these past three years since Martin’s death. My mission is to educate people about suicide and to enlighten those who have been left behind to grieve. We who have been left behind need to be heard. We can make a difference telling people how suicide can affect a family and hundreds of lives.
Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.
Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.
Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated by non-specialists as part of primary health care. Specialist care is needed for a small proportion of individuals with complicated depression or those who do not respond to first-line treatments.
Facts Most People are Unaware
Suicide occurs when a person ends their life. It is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. But suicide deaths are only part of the problem. More people survive suicide attempts than actually die. They are often seriously injured and need medical care.
Most people feel uncomfortable talking about suicide. Often, victims are blamed. Their friends, families, and communities are left devastated.
Warning Signs and Risk Factors
|A Person is at Critical Risk of Suicide if He or She:|
- Threatens or talks of wanting to hurt or kill him or herself; and/or,
- Looks for ways to kill him or herself by seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means; and/or
- Talks or writes about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary. If your friend somehow indicates or communicates suicidal thoughts, get help immediately from a mental health professional or a professional or a hospital emergency department, or call 911.
If someone shows or expresses any of the following behaviors or symptoms, they may signal a suicidal crisis. An evaluation by a mental health professional is essential to rule out the possibility of suicide and/or to initiate appropriate treatment.
- Feelings of Hopelessness
- Anxiety, agitation, trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Talk of having no reason to live; no sense of purpose in life
- Feelings of being trapped – like there’s no way out
- Increase alcohol and/or drug use
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and community
- Rage, uncontrolled anger, expressions of wanting or seeking revenge
- Reckless behavior or more risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Dramatic mood changes
- Giving Away Prized Possessions
Get Help …
… by contacting a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The staff can refer you to resources in your community. Lifeline has trained counselors available 24/7.
Risk Factors for Suicide
Keep in mind events and circumstances that increase risk:
Having More Warning Signs
If your friend has more than a couple of these warning signs for suicide in the near-term, do contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or a mental health professional: having more than one of these signs has been associated with greater risk of suicidal behavior. Remember, if a person has critical warning signs like talking about killing him or herself or dying or looking for ways to kill him or herself, get immediate help.
Losses and other events- whether anticipated or actual – can lead to feelings of shame, humiliation, or despair and may serve as triggering events for suicidal behavior. Triggering events include events include losses, such as the breakup of a relationship or a death; academic failures; trouble with authorities, such as school suspensions or legal difficulties; bullying; or health problems. This is especially true for youth already vulnerable because of low self-esteem or a mental disorder, such as depression. Help is available and should be arranged.
Previous Suicide Attempts
If your friend has attempted suicide in the past, he or she is at increased risk for another attempt or suicide. Many suicide attempts go unrecognized, but if you are aware of a previous attempt, pay attention to the warning signs. If your friend is expressing some thoughts about suicide, it’s okay to ask, “have you ever had these thoughts before?” and if so, “have you ever done anything about them?” This is especially important when conditions are similar to the prior attempt.