Categories
Suicide Prevention

Stop The Stigma: Debunking The Top 5 Suicide Myths And Facts

CONTENT WARNING: This article includes descriptions of suicide that may disturb some readers.

Despite increased awareness drives about mental health challenges in recent years, suicide continues to be a serious public health issue. According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year; this number does not include those who attempt to die by suicide and survive. Even more troubling: suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds. 

Unfortunately, many of us do not recognize the signs that someone is at risk for suicide or self-harm because of the many misconceptions society has about it. Additionally, the stigma prevents those with suicidal ideation to get the help they need to get better. 

“Not talking about suicide does not prevent suicide,” point out Luis Villarroel of Kintsugi-Psy. “All it does is make suicidal ideation cultivate in secret rather than out in the open, where people can help one another and address their issues.” 

Luis shares five common and harmful suicide myths and provides the facts to debunk them: 

Myth: Talking about suicide will lead to and encourage suicide.
Fact: On the contrary, talking about suicide allows individuals with suicidal ideations to seek help, rethink their opinions, and share their story with others so they do not feel hopeless and alone. “Anytime someone initiates a conversation about wanting to take their lives, we should take it as a call for help and never assume that they are joking,” Luis adds. 

Myth: Suicide attempts happen without warning.
Fact:
“Suicides are very rarely spur-of-the-moment occurrences,” Luis says. “Individuals who are suicidal show warning signs, especially to their loved ones, but it’s possible that these loved ones did not recognize those signs. This is why it may seem like the suicide was sudden.” 

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic change in behavior
  • Giving away possessions
  • Tying up loose ends, like organizing personal papers or paying off debts

“While it’s possible that there are other explanations for the above behavior, it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” Luis explains. “Reach out to the person and ask ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘How are you doing lately?’” If they don’t want to share, don’t force this issue, just say “That’s fine, I just wanted to know how you were,” or “Glad to know you’re okay, I’m always here if you need me.’”

But if you are really concerned or have concrete evidence that the person is attempting suicide:

  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Call your local emergency number right away. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room yourself.
  • Try to find out if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or may have taken an overdose.
  • Tell a family member or friend right away what’s going on.
  • Encourage the person to call a suicide hotline number
  • Get help from a trained professional

Myth: People who attempt suicide and survive will never attempt it again.
Fact:
This myth comes from the belief that the physical pain of self-harm will deter someone with suicidal ideation from further attempts. “But people who attempt suicide already believe that death is a preferable alternative to their current situation,” Luis explains. “So if they survived their attempt but the circumstances that led them to think about suicide do not change, you can expect that the attempt will repeat. Maybe the method used to end their lives will be different, but the ideation will still be there.”

Suicide attempts should be taken as call for help. Loved ones must work together to let the person with suicidal ideation see that other options for staying safe or solving their problems are available to them. 

Myth: Suicide only affects individuals with a mental health condition.
Fact:
According to the National Alliance On Mental Illness, many individuals with mental illness are not affected by suicidal thoughts, just as not all people who attempt or die by suicide have mental illness. Relationship problems and other life stressors such as criminal/legal matters, persecution, eviction/loss of home, death of a loved one, a devastating or debilitating illness, trauma, sexual abuse, rejection, and recent or impending crises are also associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Myth: If a person is serious about killing themselves, there is nothing that we can do.
Fact:
“There is always something you can do; the question is, what are you willing to do?” Luis points out. “Reaching out is one thing, but don’t leave it at that. When someone expresses struggles or pain, take the extra step, be it helping the victim of an abusive relationship leave, or connecting someone with depression to a mental health professional. Show your concern in concrete ways.”

As individuals, we should not be afraid to speak up about suicide, mental illness, or to seek out treatment for an individual who is in need. Eliminating the stigma starts by understanding why suicide occurs and advocating for mental health awareness within our communities. Start by sharing articles on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as those related to mental health;  additionally, look for and connect with groups that have the similar objective of wanting to remove the stigma surrounding suicide. 

“Breaking the stigma  about suicide is going to be hard, you may encounter resistance because of the stigma surrounding it,” Luis admits. “But suicide is something that we have to accept is a reality in our society, and talking about it can help any individual who is struggling with unhealthy thoughts and emotions get the help they need.” 

If you or a loved one is in crisis, the MindNation Chat Helpline is available 24/7 if you need someone to talk to. Additionally, MindNation psychologists are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via sms chat, video chat, or voice call. Rest assured that all conversations are secure and will be kept confidential. Chat with a friend or book a session now though bit.ly/themindnationchat. 

Categories
Self Help

8 Life Lessons We Can Learn From A Jedi

In the Star Wars films, the Jedi are powerful individuals who uphold peace and justice in the galaxy by wielding the Force (an energy field created by all living things). Aside from being skillful warriors, the Jedi are revered for their calm demeanor, wisdom, and patience. 

The good news is that the Jedi way of life is something we can adopt in our own everyday lives — you don’t even need telepathic skills or wear a robe to do so! Find out how below:

  1. Resolve conflicts peacefully.

“A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. — Yoda

Even though they are skilled with lightsabers, the Jedi are first and foremost peacekeeping, philosopher-warriors who espoused fighting as a last resort. “In Episodes 7, 8, and 9, we never saw Yoda with a lightsaber,” points out yogi Lasse Holopainen, founder of Urban Ashram Yoga in the Philippines (www.urbansharamyoga.com). “Seek to achieve your goals without having to go into conflict.”

  1. Widen your perspectives. 

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our own point of view.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi

Actions are neutral; it’s only when we start labelling them as good or bad that we start reacting to them positively or negatively,” says psychologist Luis Villarroel, founder of Kintsugi-Psy (www.kintsugi-psy.com). “Just because we make a mistake does not mean we are failures.” By looking at things from another point of view (i.e. treating mistakes as a learning opportunity), we can manage our reactions better and avoid getting overwhelmed by negative feelings. 

  1. Strive for balance. 

“Only the Sith deals in absolutes.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi

Black and white thinking are rarely ever true. For instance, the light side of the Force is made up of admirable qualities like harmony, rationality, peace, and order; on the other hand, the dark side comprises passion, chaos, and emotions. But even the traits of the dark side are not wholly bad.“If we have no emotions, we won’t be able to express our feelings which can be unhealthy. If we don’t have passion, we won’t feel excitement, which we need to be able to achieve goals,” Luis points out. “And finally, if we did not have chaos, we would not have ‘good accidents’ like the invention of penicillin.” 

StarWars.com
  1. Be mindful.

“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” — Yoda

“The Force is this gift of energy that people manifest and feel everyday,” says Lasse. “The problem is most of us don’t use this living energy in a constructive or directed way. Instead of being in control, we let ourselves get swept away and stressed by other people’s Forces.”

One way to stay present and balanced is to have a mindfulness practice, such as meditation, martial arts, yoga, or ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement). “When you keep your mind still, you are fully in the Force and become its tuned instrument, instead of something that is syncopated and not in tune,” advises Lasse. 

  1. Manage your anxieties. 

Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.” — Yoda

When Anakin had a vision of Padme dying, he became so obsessed with preventing it that he inadvertently ended up making it come true. “When we let anxiety overwhelm us and start thinking ‘I will fail’ or ‘I am doomed’ it can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, defined as a prediction or expectation coming true simply because the person believes it will and the person’s resulting behaviors align to fulfill the belief,” says Luis. 

  1. Don’t expect things you haven’t earned.
    “This is outrageous! It’s unfair! How can you be on the council and not be a master?!” — Anakin

    “What ultimately destroyed Anakin was that he felt he was owed something, that he should have been a Jedi Master, etcetera etcetera, and Emperor Palpatine used that to turn him to the dark side,” says Lasse. “So avoid future suffering by not having too many expectations and attachments.”
  2. Learn to let go.
    “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” — Yoda

    Realize that thoughts and feelings are not facts. “Just because we feel something doesn’t automatically mean it’s true. Just because we think of these things doesn’t mean they will come true. Instead, live in the present moment and appreciate what it has to offer,” suggests Luis.
  3. Leave a legacy you can be proud of.

“If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can ever imagine.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi

Even if we pass away, our actions and ideals live on. “What we teach other people and how we affect them will live on into the future,” shares Luis. Similarly, instead of focusing on the loss of a loved one, focus on the good things about them. “Just because they are gone does not mean that what they did or what their lives had meant was gone. Celebrate that,” adds Luis.

Ultimately, living like a Jedi is about learning and controlling yourself. “The goal is to be mindful, to do the right things, to live a life that inflicts the least harm on others, that looks after collective good rather than individual good,” says Lasse. “It’s a practice; there is never a moment that you are absolutely a Jedi; you must constantly work for it until there comes a time that the moments you are not become less along the way.”

Categories
Relationships

6 Reasons To Enjoy Being Single

When we’ve been unattached for the longest time and hear that a friend has paired up or gotten engaged, or we see photos of couples looking lovey-dovey online — we can’t help but feel a twinge of envy and, in some cases, even frustration. “When will it be my turn?” “Why can’t my Mr. Right come right now?” “Sana all (I hope everyone’s like this).”

Feeling pressured to be in a romantic relationship is perfectly normal, assures Luis Villarroel, a psychologist and founder of Kintusgi Psy. “Biologically, humans are social creatures and we are most comfortable when we connect with someone else. Culturally, romantic relationships have been, well, romanticized through the years and we’ve been raised by our forebears to believe that being in one is what we should all strive for,” he points out.

But sometimes, this pressure to pair up can become too much for a single person to manage and may lead to feelings of low self-worth (“I’m single because there is something wrong with me”) and even spiral into mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. “Because we’ve been conditioned by society to believe that being in a relationship is the only path in life, we feel like failures when we do not achieve it,” explains Luis. “But the truth is, finding a romantic partner is NOT the only path we can take. There are other things that we can do and focus on in life.”

Below are some of the reasons to enjoy being single:

  1. You learn about yourself. Being single gives you more time to look deep inside yourself and identify the person you really want to be.
  1. You have time to work on yourself. What changes do you want to make in your career? What new skills, attitudes, or mindsets do you want to develop? When you are not in a relationship, you have time to get clear about all these and more.
  2. You can make self-care a priority. When you are in a relationship, part of your time will be spent assisting your partner with their needs. While this is not a bad thing, it can sometimes lead to putting yourself second. But when you are single, there are no other responsibilities to pull you away from self-care needs like working out, socializing with friends, or taking time to focus on personal development. 
  1. Your time is your own. Once you get past feeling lonely and realize how wonderful being single is, you will become aware of one of the best perks – your schedule is now completely your own.
  2. You take time to love yourself more. It’s actually mentally healthy for you to take some time to be alone if you can, because you learn to love yourself more. “By doing so, you can learn what you really want and what’s important to you and your life. This can even end up helping you find out whether or not a relationship is actually something you want in your future,” Luis says.
  1. You learn to enjoy being alone. “There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely,” says Luis. “We need to stop thinking less of ourselves just because we are alone.” 

To start appreciating having your own time, try making a list of five to 10 hobbies that can be done on your own–you’ll probably come up with more ideas than you think! 

“Don’t be ashamed or afraid of being single,” Luis advises. “You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself. Instead, use this time to work on the things that you need to improve, and learn to love yourself for who you really are.”

“You’re the only YOU that you’ve got, so never feel that it’s something less to be with yourself.”

Luis Villarroel, Psychologist

If the idea of being single continues to bother you, Luis suggests that you self-evaluate to find out why the idea is troubling. “Think about why you want to be in a romantic relationship? Is it because you’re feeling the pressure from others? Because you feel lonely? Worthless? And once you identify the stressors, pressures, and causes of tension, you will have a better idea on how to act on those. Now, if you are having trouble accessing these, talking to a psychologist can help.” 

At the end of the day, Luis points out that the stress of finding The One lies in the belief that love can only be found in romantic relationships. “That’s not true,” he says. “Love can be found in other aspects; there’s self-love, and also the love of your other social supports like friendships. You don’t always have to be in a romantic relationship to experience love.”

If your relationship status is causing you stress and anxiety and you need someone to talk to, you can reach out to MindNation’s FREE 24/7 Care Helpline via FB Messenger (http://m.me/themindnation). If you need the services of a mental health professional, you can book online sessions with psychologists or WellBeing Coaches also through FB Messenger, or via email [email protected]