The Ripple Effect of Suicide and 7 Common Suicide Myths—Debunked

We wanted to discuss a sensitive topic tonight about Suicide. Thousands of people have been affected by this either through a family, or a friend or tried it themselves at some point in their life. This is a very hard topic to write about, but After the way the last month or two have gone for me, I felt I needed to write something about this.

This article comes directly from the heart because recently, I was impacted by this, and I am still in a state of shock, numbness, sadness, grief, and anything else that can be felt with these emotions. Which one to feel first, I can't really put my finger on, some days I wake up and still break down and cry because I dont understand though I tried to. I just know there is an overwhelming flood of emotions that have hit me all at once and still are very much doing so at this point and time....... This is one of the things that makes my job in ministry it's hardest although it's something very real in this field. Let me be the first to say, if you or anyone you know is considering this please get help and get help today! Don't leave those who love you, or are closest to you, your friends, and anyone else in your life to try and answer all the questions as to WHY you chose not to get help and felt the only way out was to end your life.. Suicide is never the answer!!!!!!!!

Before we get to today's articles supporting this, The first one is called the Ripple Effects of Suicide. People don't realize that when they kill themselves, it leaves a lasting affect on all those around the people invovled in their lives and those who love them. Questions are left unanswered as to why they did it, the reason they felt this was the only option, and so many more unanswered questions that will never get answered the way they should have been. So why am I writing this? The reason I'm stating this is because I'm one of those who is feeling the ripple effect of Suicide and perhaps writing this article is an outlet for me, perhaps a way of sorting out my own emotions and feelings having been impacted by this. I'm now left asking why and what did I do wrong as a friend? There are so many reasons I have for writing this but the most important is to not only tell you my own heart breaking story about the most recent encounter with this but to provide some extremely important information as well that I feel is necessary to address and talk about, as well as provide as refrence information as well.

When a person takes their life, it's like picking up a rock from the ground in a friendship garden and skipping it across the water as it skips before it sinks to the bottom creating ripples. When the rock hits the water, there are ripple rings that are formed in the process and each ring grows outward from smaller to bigger and it spreads throughout the water. A human's emotions works a little like that too. The rock has been removed from that friendship garden and carelessly tossed into the water as if it has no value to those surrounding it. That missing rock now leaves one less rock in the friendship garden and they can't seem to understand why that rock that was once there, is now no longer....... If a rock could talk, what would it say? Would they show emotions like humans do? Yes rocks are inanimate objects but if for one second they could show emotion or talk what would get said about it's life, or why it was picked up and skipped acrossed the water only to watch the rings form ripples as far as it can go and then sink to the bottom of a lake or ocean or even a creek or stream of water.......................

Earlier this month, on September 14th, I received a text message from a friend of mine who I took under my wing while she was trying to get her faith back and deal with her battle against depression, as well as some of the other personal things in her life that she went through that I had tried to help her with the best I could. I saw her as a little sister to me and to her I was the big sister she could always turn to about things in her life. Though I dont know what I did wrong, I blame myself as if I wasn't good enough as a person, or good enough as a friend or the big sister she saw me as. I will forever be haunted by her messages to me but this one especially when she posted on facebook prior to this, " I dont know how much longer I can hold on to life"

The text message on my phone said:

"I had a mental break down, and tried to hang myself. I'm in a place locally here and please dont worry about me! Please just text dont call and I have the dog with me as well. I'm stable for now but we'll see about tomorrow!"

( The bizarre thing about this statement, is that the local hospitals here including the mental health facilities do not allow dogs in them because they are not equipped to handle them.....Also the place she told me she was in, was not where she actually was at, as protocol here requires a 48 hour hospital stay in the mental health ward before being transfered to a mental health facility... you can't just go directly to a mental health place and bypass the hospital directly)......................

I immediately text her back and got more details and the chilling conversation was that followed. She told me in a nutshell she just wasn't able to handle things anymore and had enough. She was upset because when she tried she failed and had to call the crisis center who came and cut her the rest of the way down as whatever it was she tried to use didn't work properly and came loose. My heart broke for her and thought what did I possibly do to make her reach this point thinking she had no way out. I expressed the fact that I was seriously worried about her and that I needed for her to talk to me. I was unaware at the time she was actually texting me from the hospital and not the place she told me in the text message and she also didn't have her dog the way she claimed either.

She was discharged from the hospital 4 days later (which now I think was way too soon) and I thought maybe this was a wake up call for her and she would try and make her life better and start to really deal with her depression and I thought she would truly start to be ok after being released. Then after the weekend came and went, I believe it was a Monday or Tuesday, I was at the table eating dinner when I had a conversation with my husband I will never ever forget that would also come back to haunt me. I said " if she tried it once, what are the chances of her trying again and actually being sucessful this time? He replied to me, knowing what I do with this situation and her depressive disorder, chances are very high and very likely she will try until she succeeds". I just thought dear GOD in heaven, please dont let her follow through with a new attempt and actually succeed..... She has too many people that love her and need her here.

On Wedneday morning September 25th, 2019, I received a voicemail from a friend of mine who had also been helping us check on her during this time... I had only just woken up to check my messages on my phone which is the first thing I do when I wake up in addition to getting my coffee. I will check my text messages and emails and I will reply back to messages that need immediate attention or are priority and then deal with the rest of the messages. The only thing I saw was the last word in the voice mail that I could make out as my eyes adjusted to the daily light of the new day. The only word I could read and make out was URGENT.... A few seconds later I was able to read the rest of the voicemail. So I called my friend back and got the news I was dreading. She was found dead in her house Monday morning and had re hung herself and this time she was successful.

I literally went numb, into shock, and I broke down emotionally. I just kept asking myself what did I do wrong as a person, a friend, and the big sister that she saw me as, when I tried to help her constantly the best I could. Because of her actions, I now have a hard time not blaming myself, I often feel like I failed because she needed help and having learned all that I have to this point in Ministry, still couldn't save her life. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, I feel as if I failed and I let myself down, the one who knows me best that has helped to teach me in this field, and most importantly I let GOD down. Ministry is about helping people not watching them die before your very eyes and being able to do nothing about it!

The ripples of emotions get bigger and bigger and bigger until it's felt as far as it can be reached and then the rock sinks to the bottom never to be seen again. I literally have felt a sense of pain like no other that anyone should feel and now she can never change her mind or take back her actions because she made a permanent decision to end her life. Now there will be forever unanswered questions and I am one of many feeling the effects of her death and will always be left with the question why, what did I do wrong and am I to blame for not stopping her in time.............The pain I feel currently is greater than unlike anything I've felt since the loss of my brother back in 2009.......There's two differences though... My brother's was an accident and my friend's death was intentional. I now have to learn how to live with her loss as well... it just feels like right now that the pain will never go away.... If you or someone you know are considering this STOP and get help! Don't make anyone feel the kind of pain and hurt that I have felt this month. Nothing was harder than having to go to her funeral a couple days back on September 27th, 2019 and say goodbye.

We at SWRD also have plenty of resources as well that can help you by going to this link:

You may also visit as well:

We can also get you the help you need as well! Suicide is NEVER the answer!!!!!!!!!

As Elana Premack Sandler, LCSW, MPH says who is a member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness has this to say on the Ripple Effects of Suicide:

The Ripple Effect of Suicide By Elana Premack Sandler, LCSW, MPH (NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness

The Ripple Effect of Suicide

“A suicide is like a pebble in a pond. The waves ripple outward.”

Many years ago, my colleague Ken Norton, LICSW, director of NAMI New Hampshire, shared this quote, and it has stuck with me. Visually, when you see a pebble drop into a pond, it’s something small that makes a big impact.

The first “waves,” close by, are big, and as they move outward, they get smaller and smaller. The reach of the pebble’s waves is much greater than the size of the pebble itself.

When someone dies by suicide, the people impacted most dramatically are those closest to the person who died: family, friends, co-workers, classmates. As a result, the people who interacted regularly with the individual who ended their life will miss the physical presence of that person and typically feel the loss most intimately.

But, those people represent only the first wave, or the initial level of impact. Those people who are members of an individual’s community, such as members of a faith community; teachers, staff and other students in a school; or service providers, may also be affected by a suicide.

Some of these people may feel the impact in a way that feels similar to those closest to the person who has died. In a situation where the individual has struggled openly with mental health concerns, those who knew of the struggle will feel the pain of the loss—likely wondering if they could have done more.

People who may not have even personally known the individual who died can also be impacted. Like emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, clergy and others who respond and provide support to the family and community, either at the time of death or afterward.

Ultimately, in the way that a pond is changed because of a pebble, an entire community can be changed by a suicide. According to a 2016 study, it is estimated that 115 people are exposed to a single suicide, with one in five reporting that this experience had a devastating impact or caused a major-life disruption.

So, what can be done to manage the impact of a suicide, and work toward future prevention?

Work to Decrease Stigma

Stigma only leads to silence. And silence about a suicide loss does not contain the ripple effect—it just leaves people feeling isolated, as if they are facing this tragedy alone. When someone dies by suicide, the aftermath opens up an immediate opportunity to talk about suicide as a public health issue that affects all of us. We all have a role to play in prevention and decreasing stigma by sharing our stories.

Increase Support to the Community

The impact of a death by suicide can be vast, as people hear about suicides through the proverbial grapevine. Community hotlines and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) should be advertised, and community groups, such as faith communities, may want to convene opportunities for people to come together to mourn and receive support. Peer support from people who have lost a loved one to suicide can be healing—it can be very powerful to know you are not alone and to connect with others who have also experienced suicide loss. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) maintains a registry of support groups, including a specific list of survivor support groups.

For those who respond to a crisis, providing a way to process a suicide is different, though just as important, as providing support to those more intimately impacted by a death. Crisis responders need space and time to debrief in order to be able to continue to respond appropriately, both in terms of their own reactions and in the way they support those who have lost a loved one.

Help People in Need Access Mental Health Resources

For those struggling with suicidal thoughts, access to mental health treatment can be key to saving a life. If you personally know someone struggling, encouraging them to seek help—even helping them get to that first appointment—shows that you support them.

In the bigger picture, advocating for better insurance coverage for mental health treatment will allow more people to be able to access professional help. Schools, primary care offices and community programs serving people at risk can organize screening programs as long as there are resources in place to be able to effectively refer those at risk to appropriate treatment.

As we witnessed recently, a suicide by a celebrity can have widespread impact. For those who have lost loved ones to suicide, hearing of another death by suicide can be triggering and emotionally draining. For people who have survived suicide attempts themselves, media coverage of suicide may increase their own feelings of suicidality. And yet, paying attention to these deaths increases our collective awareness of suicide as a problem and highlights suicide prevention as a need.

When we grieve together, we realize the impact of one single life—one pebble in a pond.

In the Second article, we will cover 7 Common Myths about Suicide:

7 common suicide myths—debunked By Alice Gomstyn

Do you bring it up? What do you say? Is it better to not say anything at all?

If you’re concerned a loved one is contemplating suicide, such questions can be tough to answer. But experts stress that remaining silent isn't the answer. They point out that suicide is preventable, and knowing the facts about it can help you intervene and make a difference in someone's life. Here, we debunk seven common myths about suicide to help you give your loved one the support they need.

Myth: It's dangerous to ask a depressed person whether they're considering suicide.

You may be afraid of raising the subject of suicide with a vulnerable person, for fear that even mentioning it could inspire them to harm themselves. But the reality is that those struggling with depression may be relieved to have the opportunity to share their disturbing thoughts, including the ones about suicide, with someone else. "Many times what people want to do is make that social connection with someone and be heard and listened to," explains Peggy Wagner, head of clinical operations and of organization risk management services at Aetna Resources For Living, which offers crisis counseling to Aetna members. "And then gradually it gives them an opportunity also to think out loud and to process what they're going through." Once that person feels heard, you can suggest they seek help. You should also ask if they plan to hurt themselves and how, and then discuss safely getting rid of guns or other weapons and disposing of drugs that pose a risk.

Myth: People who want to die always find a way.

There's a misconception that a suicidal person will find a way to take his or her own life, no matter what. This fuels the dangerous notion that it's useless to reach out to someone contemplating suicide, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. "When people are suicidal, many times they're highly ambivalent. They're unsure about suicide," explains Wagner. "They're torn between a desire to live and a desire to die."

If you suspect a loved one is considering taking his or her own life, be proactive in trying to get them help. After all, a successful intervention ― one that results in a person getting the professional help they need ― can strengthen a person's desire to live. (Learn more about getting help for a friend or loved one below.)

Myth: People take their own life “out of the blue.”

“Through their words or actions, most people who take their own lives really have communicated their intent beforehand to other people,” Wagner says. There are almost always warning signs, including telling others they want their lives to end, giving away possessions, behaving more aggressively or recklessly, experiencing dramatic mood swings, abusing substances and withdrawing socially. (Learn more about suicide warning signs from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.) Witnessing such behavior can be distressing, but it also presents you with a chance to intervene and get them critical help before it's too late.

Myth: Someone who has their act together isn’t at risk of suicide.

On the outside, someone can appear to have it all: a great job, a healthy family, an active social life, a beautiful home. "We look at the outside veneer and say, 'They're doing great. Life is wonderful. How could they even contemplate suicide?' But you really don't know what's going on inside of someone," Wagner says. While the deaths of Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade are high-profile examples of prominent people dying by suicide, seemingly happy people in your own life might be at risk, too. The takeaway? When you see someone exhibit warning signs for suicide, don't brush it off. Reach out to them instead. Have an honest conversation. Learn how to talk to someone who may be struggling.

"Many times, what people want to do is make that social connection with someone and be heard and listened to."

Myth: Most suicides happen around the winter holiday season.

The holidays may be a time of togetherness, but they can also heighten depression among people who already feel lonely or stressed by the demands of the season. Still, contrary to popular belief, suicides don't peak during the winter holidays. Rather, they're at their highest in the springtime. While there's no scientific consensus as to why this happens, the seasonal spike in suicides means it's best to let go of any assumptions that sunny days and blooming flowers will lift the mood of someone who is struggling. Instead, make a point to check in with them and offer a sympathetic ear.

Myth: When someone recovers after hitting rock bottom, their risk of suicide declines.

It's one of the cruelest ironies of suicide: Someone hits rock bottom. But then, perhaps with the help of treatment, their mood lifts enough that loved ones think they're out of the woods. Unfortunately, that’s oftentimes not true. It takes a lot of energy to attempt suicide, and when a depressed person is in the early stages of recovery, he or she might gain just enough of it to end their life, Wagner explains. “Many times, people are at the highest risk of attempting suicide when they first get out of the hospital,” she says. “So it’s important to make sure that they have ongoing treatment and support after they get out of the hospital.” Not sure whether your loved one has the necessary support in place? It never hurts to ask. If the answer is "no," offer to help them find the resources they need.

Myth: Giving someone a hotline number to call is enough.

Suicide hotlines can be effective. Thousands of people call Aetna's Resources For Living call centers every year for help with suicidal thoughts. But Wagner cautions that it's not enough to simply suggest a suicidal person pick up the phone. Your struggling loved one might only pay lip service to your suggestion. “It's important to help facilitate getting them to take the next step, rather than just giving them a phone number because you don't know whether they're going to follow through," she says.

The best thing to do is ask how you can help, perhaps offer to reach out to a mental health provider they've seen in the past, or drive them to the emergency room yourself. If it's a co-worker, consider asking management at your company to get in touch with your colleague's relative, who can get them medical care.

To get more information and advice on what to do in a specific situation, you can call hotlines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or Aetna’s Resources For Living. Aetna members whose health plans includes Employee Assistance Program benefits can call the number provided by their employer.

Often, when we hear about suicide, it's in relation to someone who actually took his or her own life. “That’s what gets publicity,” Wagner says. “But what we don't hear about is how many people were able to talk to someone, were directed to get help, did get care and didn't go on to take their life.” She and other experts agree that there are tremendous opportunities to intervene and prevent vulnerable people from doing the unthinkable. While such interventions may ultimately involve the work of mental health professionals, they often begin with family and friends. If your loved one is considering suicide, starting an honest conversation about it can be the first step toward getting them help – and saving a life.

If you or someone you know is at risk:

Remember support is available 24/7 to Aetna members who have employee assistance program (EAP) benefits through Resources for Living by calling the number provided by your employer.

If you or anyone you know is considering Suicide, please remember the following information below is here to help as are we at SWRD!!!!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free, confidential support 24/7.

  • Text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7.

  • Call 911 for emergencies.

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