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Running Mind: Shedding light on suicide prevention


Hello everyone :) We learned last week that anger is viral. I hope you’re constantly overfilled with joy and refuse to let the little annoyances in life consume you. I did, and it’s just stupid.

In conjunction with the heightened awareness of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses after World Suicide Prevention Day, I felt more open about the subject and is actively seeking information about how healthy individuals like you can help better understand the people you love, and find out whether they might be suffering from it. Emerging studies found that there are certain biomarkers, such as blood pressure in the sweat glands, that might indicate an individual’s suicidality.

“A depressed person has a biological inability to care about the surroundings, while a healthy person continues to react,” said study author Lars-Håkan Thorell, associate professor in experimental psychiatry at Linköping University, to PsychCentral.


Psychiatrists and other leading medical practitioners are holding a hopeful eye on the frontiers of biology to improve their efforts in suicide prevention. The Swedish-German study Thorell led, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found hyporeactivity (a neurophysical disorder of low sensitivity/reactivity to various stimuli) to be as consistent as 97% among the 78 clinical depressed inpatients assessed, which confirms previous studies that conclude the correlation between being hyporeactive and suicide risk in depressed people.

“Everyone who has it is not suicidal — but almost all suicidal, depressed patients have it,” pointed Thorell, indicating that some of the normal population are hyporeactive but not necessarily suicidal. Negative stress in everyday life happens to everyone everyday, and it’s damaging to the nerve cells of healthy individuals and depressed patients alike, but almost all depressed individuals with suicidal thoughts are hyporeactive.

Hyporeactivity exists when the nervous systems are under-responsive to sensation, thus creating sensory-seeking behaviors that are often hyper, impulsive, and clumsy. However, others take their suicidal ideations more deliberately.


Recognize it before it happens

As the promising research findings keep pouring in, University of Indiana School of Medicine associate professor Dr. Alexander Niculescu, who popularized the SAT1 gene as a strongest predictor of suicidality, is developing a blood test to predict who are the ones at risk of suicide. Seeing patients with various psychiatric disorders day in and out, he confirmed that not all victims of these illnesses are suicidal, as well as the reality that suicide risk is quite often unrecognizable.

“Suicide is complex,” said Dr. Niculescu to Medical News Today. “In addition to psychiatric and addiction issues that make people more vulnerable, there are existential issues related to lack of satisfaction with one’s life, lack of hope for the future, not feeling needed, and cultural factors that make suicide seem like an option.”

There are people everyday in our lives who don’t externalize their suicidal thoughts through their behaviors. We see them in the tragic deaths of high-profile celebrities and billionaire moguls, that when their commitment came around, it tends to end up as a big surprise to the people closest to them.


My progress

The good news is it gets better when people know about you.

My suicidal thoughts have gone away for a while now by I convincing myself that I’m not stupid enough to get out of my frustrations in taking my own life. The fact that I only hid it from my family for over a year, back when I was still in the States, have made it easier to piece my life back together. They all know I’m hypersensitive to their words (perhaps an outburst of hyperreactive suppressions in high-pressure situations) and whatever they mildly assert as their wishes I would do my best in secrecy to fulfill those expectations. However, it’s only recently that I thought hard about seeing a psychiatrist, because it’d be great to get these clouds of anger, fear, anxieties and insecurities out of my life immediately.

It’s ironic that I just don’t believe in quick-fixes. At least, materialistically.

I talked about seeing a psychiatrist with my mom. She told me most local psychiatrists will give me quick-fix pills instead. She asked me to pretend she’s a psychiatrist and talk to her instead. So we got into talking and pretended it’s a room of non-judgment, a very inviting space we can only wish exists in every social situation, and finally assessed the underlying problem: I always regard other people’s opinions higher than my own. I pressure myself as best as I can to live up to person A’s expectations before I meet him, and the next time to person B, and C, and so on, until I don’t know who I am anymore and why I am here or there.

I always thought we can just reason our way to exist, that if somebody else states their need I can design myself into a custom-built solution for the person in hopes for that person to acknowledge my value. But we have all kinds of different people walking in and out of our lives, and I know that kind of autopilot in me is not a sustainable way to run.

It’s not hard to see if you have been following my blog for a while. People-pleasing is my nemesis. I pretend I no longer care but deep down I still care, often more than I care about where I would end up if I go the big distance to please others.

The most poignant moment during our conversation (not surprisingly in the middle) goes something like this:

“I don’t have value. I don’t know what’s the point anymore.”

And she said: “Every individual has a value, Yin. I’m a stay-at-home mom who’s got free time in her hands and I don’t know my value, and it’s all good, right?”

I nod slowly.

“People on the streets and in the slumps have values that might probably be a mystery to themselves too,” she went on. “Perhaps we aren’t supposed to know how much we’re worth in this life but if we don’t, don’t try to push it and just be you are.”


Open up

I am no way in a place where I can encourage the quiet ones to be open about it – be it suicidal thoughts or manic symptoms or self-sabotaging behaviors – especially on the Internet like what I’m doing right now, but life is just a little bit more worthwhile when you share your vulnerability with the ones who really matter. Yes, the revelation may hurt them and yes, you may fear affecting them negatively. But I learned it the hard way that the more you give in to your fear, the more it has power over you, and the more hurtful a monster you become to the people who love you.


Lesson learned: Living as you are can just be the best form of gratitude you can give back to them.




via Aart-Jahn Venema


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