Stop the Stigma; Let’s Talk About Suicide

For many people, the news this week of celebrity suicides has brought this issue to the forefront. For me, I’ve been working on suicide prevention for almost 10 years.

On the one hand, it is frustrating that each day literally hundreds of deaths go unreported or overlooked by society while the loved ones and friends of those who have gone are left in a cloud of confusion and despair.

On the other hand, if the spotlight brought about by the media attention can help only one person, I guess it’s not for naught.

For reasons near to my heart I’ve been fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) nationally and locally to raise awareness and educate people on this topic.

Our fundraising efforts for the local walk resulted in our team having the honor of leading the 2017 AFSP Pittsburgh community walk from Highmark Stadium and carrying the banner.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot over the past decade and continue to learn. I can rattle off CDC statistics and demographic and socioeconomic info, but no two cases are exactly alike.

As a Family Lawyer, I always recommend that prospective and new clients speak to a therapist as part of the family law process for their own well-being and mental health. Some clients are already treating with mental health professionals and other who have been reluctant to take action have done so at my suggestion.

Family Law is tough. It’s tough for the parties, it’s tough for their children and it’s tough for their extended families and friends. It’s also tough for family lawyers, to try to help people at the most difficult times of their lives. I’m proud that I’ve always taken a unique approach to this area of the law, which I chose after having worked for several years in civil litigation for large firms.

I plan to revisit several of these issues in greater detail in due time. Right now, I want to do something extra on my site which receives pretty good traffic and can reach more people than my social media.

I updated the free resources page on the site to include a list of mental health resources and suicide prevention resources. They are also listed below.

Mental Health Resources/Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
AFSP Western PA Chapter
AFSP Find Support
Resolve Crisis Center
Western Psych
Mental Health at AGH
National Institute of Mental Health
Project Semicolon

Now that the country is having the conversation, let’s get rid of the stigma and talk honestly and openly about this leading cause of death.

Let’s stop with the questions that have always made me shudder, like “how did they do it?” Who, the F@$k cares. It’s really none of your business and doesn’t make you understand the loss any better or lessen the pain for those left behind. Stop asking that question and stop with the salacious news stories with sordid details. A loss is a loss without having to explain how it happened. That’s my one big problem with the first of the two reported stories from this past week.

It’s okay to pay tribute to the accomplishments and life’s work of those who have passed. In most cases we will never know the reason(s) why. It doesn’t matter. Some issues like relationship problems, divorce, substance abuse, money problems, criminal charges, etc. are oft mentioned as triggers or factors. Mental health issues, depression, etc. are also their own class of cases.

Regardless, I have had suicide impact my life personally, with family members, friends, colleagues, and clients all lost in the same way. Like I said, family law is tough, I try to offer my clients help where I can.

Here if you’re suffering, or someone you know is suffering there is help.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “Talk” to 741741.

Finally, be gentle with yourself and with others. You never know what someone is dealing with inside. It never hurts to be kind!