So what was Charles thinking up until he took his own life?

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It’s been over a year and piece by piece I am getting the picture of what Charles was thinking those last days. Where he went. Why he did it. How he felt. This one has been churning in my head like a hamster wheel. So I have to let it out.

He was supposed to go with a group of others to the west end of Richmond around the end of May 2015. He had been living at a house with others suffering from heroin addiction and they stuck together like family. A friend of his said he refused to go with … Read more...

Suicide is not an act of selfishness

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Thinking it’s an act of selfishness is a lack of understanding of what suicide is.

Even before Charles died by suicide, I did not subscribe to the “selfish” notion. I even remember him walking into my office and telling me that a friend’s dad had died by suicide and Charles said he thought it was selfish.

Then he asked what I thought.

Now I’m not sure whether he actually thought it was selfish or was testing me. Seeing what I thought. I don’t know that I will ever know for sure. My gut tells me he wanted to know whether … Read more...

Presented suicide prevention program to YMCA Leader’s Club

Watching Charles rap the song, "Letter to God"
Watching Charles rap the song, “Letter to God”

I was honored this evening to present my story and my social media based suicide prevention program to the Swift Creek YMCA group in Chesterfield County. Before my very eyes, I saw stigma leave the building. Tosha Frye, fellow Beacon Tree board member, joined me and told her personal story and delivered her message of hope.

I met teens willing to reach out to others. Some of them spoke up and told their stories. We cried and we laughed. They are a very special and diverse group with great leadership. It’s a service club that takes … Read more...

Suicide screening at a pediatric practice is a first

Hear what Dr. Abernathy and Dr. Keel say about the test.

Dr. Ted Abernathy and Dr. Scott Keel of Pediatric & Adolescent Health Partners (PAHP) talk about the 5-question suicide screening test through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that has shown remarkable results, identified preteens and teens with suicidal thoughts and referred them for life-saving mental health services. They have been using the screening test for over a year.

This screening had previously been used in Emergency Rooms to identify teens at risk for suicide and showed efficacy in doing so.

Based on results from the new questionnaire,

Read more...

The roadblocks we faced trying to save our son from suicide

By Buddy Terrell

My son, John Terrell, began having bipolar episodes at the end of his freshman year at VCU in 2005. The journey has been both frustrating and tedious.

We kept hoping that the next doctor or counselor would help our son. Most likely, we think John also suffered Borderline Personality Disorder which prevented him from being honest with professionals due to feelings of embarrassment.

Eventually this led to his loosing employment and health insurance. At this point, the bipolar disorder was rapidly cycling and choices were limited at the Chesterfield County Mental Health Department. The personnel there did … Read more...

Suicide and the opiate crisis. Why aren’t we talking about it?

One thing I hear little of in mainstream media is how many suicides this opiate crisis has triggered. Many of the people suffering substance abuse disorder (addiction) also suffer a mental illness such as anxiety, bipolar or depression.

Throw drug abuse in there with a mental illness, and chances of suicide increase dramatically.

We hear a lot in the media about overdoses and we should be. We have a record breaking epidemic of them.

But what about the suicides triggered by drug addiction or withdrawal?How many of those overdoses are really suicides? How many take their lives in some other way as a … Read more...

Help me eliminate the phrase, ‘committed suicide’

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I understand the phrase has been around a long time. It’s even the headline in my most popular article (I didn’t write that phrase in that headline, by the way*).

Historically, suicide was considered a crime up until the early 60s. In some other parts of the world, it still is.

Saying, ‘committed suicide’ implies crime

Suicide is not a criminal act like murder or a home invasion, but often the result of a treatable brain disease such as depression, addiction, or bipolar disorder or even a physical trauma such as a head injury.

In short, suicide is a public health … Read more...

Suicide. So why are we not asking the question?

Why are we not asking the question, “Have you had thoughts of suicide?” Or, “Are you thinking about harming yourself?”

Here’s why you are not asking it.

1. We don’t know to ask it

It simply doesn’t occur to us that someone would go to lengths that drastic. Except someone else who’s been there.  I wish I had asked that question. And I wish I had asked it more than once, too.

For many of the people who have suffered a suicide loss, there were no indications and it came from out of the blue. Suicide is so final. … Read more...

Facebook LIVE: Could suicide happen in your family?

How to talk to someone who is contemplating suicide:

1 Ask if you can talk to them in private

2. Ask open-ended questions:

  • You have not seemed like yourself lately?
  • Anything bothering you?
  • How are you doing?
  • Is everything OK?

3. Listen to their story

4. Have you thought about hurting yourself or ending your life?

5. Encourage them to seek mental health services/treatment

6. Remind them it takes courage to do this but it’s the smart thing to do

One other note. If they have lethal means, a gun or other weapon, this is a situation where the most … Read more...

Who’d have thought my child’s worst enemy was in his own head?

charles-headphonesI protected my child from cars in the street. I worried when he got sick and ran a high fever. I feared he’d die in a car accident, get childhood cancer or be abducted.

I worried about a drug overdose, a drowning or even a shooting.

It never occurred to me that my child’s worst enemy was in his own head. That his brain would betray him like it did. Tell him he was worthless and convince him he’d be better off dead.

I just couldn’t imagine it, fathom it or wrap my head around it. Until I had to.… Read more...