Someone, somewhere along the line did a wonderful job building an imaginary crisis around the month of December, making people (like me) believe that more people commit suicide during this season more than any other.
But I’ve come to find out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their National Center for Health Statistics report that the suicide rate is, in fact, the lowest in December.
“The rate peaks in the spring and the fall,” according to their website. “This pattern has not changed in recent years. (This) suicide myth supports misinformation about suicide that might ultimately hamper prevention efforts.”
The site also says that The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports on suicide since 2000. A recent analysis found that 50% of articles written during the 2009–2010 winter season perpetuated the myth.
However, that shouldn’t make anyone relax about the subject. Suicide happens around the clock, all year long, and is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans, according to the CDC. Each year, more than 36,000 people take their own lives. In addition, more than 374,000 are treated in emergency departments for self-harm.
As humans, we’re all subject to depression and anxiety, and sometimes we may feel like giving up. Or perhaps you know someone who has reached that point right now and could use this gently modified check-list provided by Eponis.tumblr.com. It’s a beautiful example of how to apply mindfulness when hopelessness creeps in like the creep it is and tricks your brain into believing something other than the truth. The truth is that no problem is too so huge that the permanent solution of suicide is warranted. The other truth is that life is precious and no one gets out alive anyway. So, ask yourself these questions before checking out for good. It could make all the difference.
- Are you dehydrated? Have a glass of water either way. When you dehydrate your body kicks in to crisis mode and all sorts of negative experiences occur, like headaches, migraines, body aches, dizziness, etc.
- Are you hungry? Choose protein. Simple carbs won’t cut it. Sometimes we’re hungry and we don’t even realize it. A lack of nutrients can also create disturbances in how you feel.
- Have you showered in the past day? If not, do it now. The idea is to change your state and to cleanse whatever may be making you feel less than human or unclean.
- If it’s daytime, are you dressed? Put on something other than PJs. Again, change your state.
- If it’s nighttime, are you sleepy, but resisting sleep? Put your PJs on, get cozy in bed and close your eyes for 15 minutes. If you’re still awake after that, you can get up. But give it a try. It just might work! (Hint: Put your electronic devices to bed first.)
- Have you stretched in the past day? If you can’t go to the gym or just walk around the block, stretch wherever you are. Put your arms in the air and reach for the sky. Then do a few more things to get your blood circulating. Change your state!
- Have you said something nice to someone in the past day? Doesn’t matter if it’s online or in real life. It will make you feel better to make someone else feel good.
- Have you moved your body to music in the past day? Why not? That will get your blood circulating and will ultimately change your state, and maybe even change your mind.
- Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days? Don’t underestimate the power of touch. Hug a friend. Hug your dog. I know I sound like a broken record, but hugging most definitely changes your state, sometimes from cold to warm, from unloved to loved, from sad to content.
- Do you feel ineffective? Do something toward one of your goals, some small effort toward something bigger. Even if it’s just putting in a load of wash, you immediately give yourself a sense of purpose.
- Do you feel unattractive? Brush your hair, then take a selfie, so your social media friends can remind you that you’re actually very attractive, and you are loved even if you may not feel that way right this minute.
- Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Is something weighing on you to choose? Make the decision to put it on the back burner for now. In the words of a great song lyricist from the Canadian band Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Not choosing may have to be enough for now. Respect your inability to choose as the incorrect time to make a decision. Timing is everything and now may not be the best time. Give yourself a break.
- Have you seen a therapist in the past few days? If not, hang on until your next appointment. If you need a sooner appointment, get on the phone right now and make it happen.
- Have you been over-exerting yourself lately---physically, emotionally, socially or intellectually? All of those things can require a break from everything. Again, give yourself a break. Just a day without pressure. Wouldn’t that make a difference?
- Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand? That could explain your hopelessness. Consult with your doctor!
- Have you waited a week? Things can change so much in a day that a week can seem like an eternity. Sometimes our perception of things can warp our thinking and cause that hopelessness you feel. If you’re feeling dehydrated, tired, weak, unloved, unattractive, or anything else that can be perceived as negative, it’s a recipe for trouble. Give yourself a full week. Then see what you think. Give yourself a chance to save yourself. Even a weak attempt at the above is likely to empower you. You can do it!