The whole world is talking about Robin WIlliam’s tragic passing yesterday. At this point it seems he took his own life.
Two things come to my mind:
1 Many people are asking ‘what could he have been thinking?’ and ‘What was so wrong that this seemed like a good idea to him?’
2 What can you do to help ensure you never find yourself in such a crisis?
When we feel depressed (and I lived that for a long time), our brain is selectively focusing on bad feelings and thoughts. It’s pattern matching for ‘What is wrong’, ‘What will go wrong’, and ‘what might harm me’. It is also discounting positive thoughts and feelings and has less connection to them.
As the area of the brain involved in processing bad feeling grows in activity, there is a drop off in the part of the brain involved in logical thought, good feeling, and planning. So our view of the world becomes skewed and we don’t think straight. Hence the questions like ‘What was he thinking’ are useless. He wasn’t thinking straight because he’d gotten too low and his thoughts were trapped in a temporary mire of bad feeling which led to a sadly permanent mistake. So, lets not judge him and just mourn his passing and feel for his family.
The good news for those still suffering, is that this is a temporary state and you can bring yourself out of it by noticing as you slide into bad feeling. You can change the activity to the more positive forward looking areas of the brain. I’m going to write about how to do that piece by piece over the coming weeks in response to a mail I got this weekend.
For today here are some key points to share and implement:
What can you do if feeling down?
Here’s some good advice if you find you are ever feeling so low that the idea of suicide crosses your mind.
Tell Someone – This is huge. Don’t keep it to yourself.
A family member
A close friend
A doctor, therapist, or counsellor
A work colleague
You can also put in place a suicide prevention plan for yourself.
Write out the following and fill it in. Put it in your wallet or purse and if you find your mood slipping take it out and use it.
If I am feeling low I will:
1 Tell someone
2 Stop drinking, engaging in substance abuse, etc.
3 Do something active: exercise, meet friends, etc.
Three people/agencies I could talk to anytime are:
1 Phone Number:
2 Phone Number:
3 Phone Number:
(Keep their phone numbers in your phone and in your wallet/purse. (Two 24 hour helplines are listed at the end here).
If you have a plan to kill yourself, go away from or get rid of the means you intend to use.
(If you were thinking of using a rope cut it up or burn it, leave the place where it is. If thinking of taking an overdose flush pills down toilet or give them to someone you trust to hold for you. If thinking of drowning, go somewhere away from the canal/river/body of water.)
List 5 good things in your life. These are a reminder for you when you’re feeling low. This will help activate more positive areas of the brain and begin to change the feelings.
These could be things you enjoy, people who love you, goals you are working towards, or just fun times, or people who matter.
White that out and keep that piece of paper.
If someone tells you they are thinking of taking their own life, don’t panic. You may just have the chance to save a life. Stay with them. Listen. Let them talk. You can call a help line if you feel you need support. There is no greater act in life than saving a life. Be grateful you are there. You are a life line.
Some useful numbers to share – someone out there today may need to know them
Console 24/7 Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247
1Life Suicide Helpline 24 hours every day – 1800 247 100 By text message* – Text the word HELP to 51444
Console’s website is http://www.console.ie/
Please share this. You never know who might need to see this today.