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Life on the Other Side
by Audrie Meraki
Navigating life is tough with general day to day stressors. Can you imagine not feeling adequate enough for the people in your life? Feeling so low you are questioning your existence? I can imagine it because I have lived it. I question myself almost every day and it has been six years since I have tried to complete the act of suicide. Fortunately, I was not successful but sadly there are plenty of people who have died by suicide. On average, 108 youth and young adults die of suicide in Spokane County each year. Each death affects around 135 people (roughly 14,600 people total are affected).
Suicide, suicidal ideation and self-injurious behavior are often underdiscussed in mental health services, possibly because of a consensus of opinion. Suicidal patients are pigeon holed into thinking they won’t get better. How do we, as survivors, get better without resources? What is available for survivors of suicide? Typically, you would get in to see a therapist, but there are excessively long wait lists in our area and not many places are offering treatment services for suicide attempt survivors. Perhaps peer support groups are something that would be helpful. Support groups are designed with confidentiality and respect of another’s story in mind. No one can tell you how you’re supposed to feel but opening up to people who have experienced a similar event can be a cathartic moment. Suicide loss survivors tend to ask the common question “What could I have done differently? Why didn’t I see the signs?” In my personal opinion and experience, it is about the sliding door moments we have in our lives.
Drs. John and Julie Gottman are relationship researchers, and define sliding door moments as “the seemingly inconsequential everyday moments that make or break the most important relationships in our lives.” Their research also brings up the four horsemen of the apocalypse; criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. These feelings happen when we search for the opposite of who we are, and we attempt to mold ourselves into something we are not. In time of need, a suicide attempt survivor will reach out for support – not for criticism and judgements. The lack of interest we might have of one another’s day causes the four horsemen to appear and potentially doom the relationships that are important us.
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