Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Your cold is contagious. Suicide and Mental Illness is not.

We are all made up of different mental make up. There is a lot of controversy surrounding how we bring Suicide to light in this day and age of social media. We have a lot of mental health advocates out there who truly stand by hitting people with the hard truths of Suicide rather than sugar coating the truths of Suicide. A dear friend of mine Ky who is another active mental health advocate brought a word to my attention today. The word is 'epistemology'. This is the study of knowledge itself. He said: "Everyone has their own unique web of beliefs which effects the way they react to new information. Its much easier to reject new information rather than to integrate it into your existing web of beliefs." Ky's words have been on my mind since lunch time when we wee discussing how people react to suicide as a whole. So here I am writing to try break down the myths that speaking about/showing a suicide will cause others to follow suit. I would like to lay that myth to rest. 

To say that seeing a Suicide or the reality of Suicide can cause someone else to follow suit is a myth. They have been rare cases yes, I wont deny that. But to put the message out there that Suicide is 'contagious' and showing it is more danger then helping prevention, that is false. It is proven that speaking about Suicide and showing the truths of Suicide can play a part in helping prevention. You get a better understanding of the matter if shown effectively and safely. We see and hear about Suicide daily and people try their hardest to make sure it is communicated in a safe manner. 

Another myth is if you surround yourself around someone who is mentally ill, then you will become mentally ill. I am not denying the hurt that can come with trying to maintain a relationship with someone who has a diagnosed mental illness. There is a whole range of emotions you will discover along the way. But you cannot hold the person who has the illness responsible for making you 'mentally ill'. Sure they can impact you, but everything can have an impact, it all determines the attachment and care you have towards certain things. You cannot hang out with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder and all the sudden you have Borderline Personality Disorder. IF we have that mentality that we assume that we are going to be prone to a mental illness if we hang out with mentally ill people, then we will always remain in boxes rather than coming together on a whole to understand each other. Instead of assuming that if you stay on board to help someone with a mental illness that you will in fact to get a mental illness, look at it in a different light. 

Instead of assuming this person is the cause for your all the sudden mental impairments (unless they are outwardly abusing you, violating you and causing harm consciously), ask them how you can assist in helping them and get a better understanding. You will find that you may be able to relate back to them with similar situations you may have experienced. If you cannot relate back, you can learn and grow with them through small acts of compassion and empathy. I understand in worse case scenarios (usually due to the other person not being self aware or articulate with how you feel), some things do have to come to an end for your own safety. In saying that, dont tell someone you are there for them, then abandon them in a time of crisis/need. That is why people have trust issues and how abandonment can play a huge part in being triggers for people who are struggling. Apologise if you are in the wrong, show you care through practising actions and gestures of kindness and continue that positive ripple effect you can have on others. Do not be the dictator or contribute to the taboo and stigmas of suicide and mental illness. 

There is no damage being done if people are coming forward and speaking openly about the reality of suicide and mental illness. Majority of people working in the field of mental health advocating and lived experience speakers are trained, supported and encouraged to speak about suicide in a safe manner. You cannot 'blame' them for triggering you by speaking about their truths, especially if they have given you a pre warning. Suicide isn't contagious. The way we approach the issue is needed and assisting others in what they can do to help others in a crisis. There is no dangers is trying to help people with honesty and integrity. 


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