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To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Life is full of twists and turns,
and sometimes deep valleys.
walk through them all
and end our journey well
© St. Germain

This is one of the pics I took for one of my Celebrity Collection paintings. It was amazing how this rose stayed in this position for 2 weeks, in 80 degree weather. It was as if it was holding on to life, till the petals were almost totally faded to white.
Before my graduate work, one of the families we had befriended in Holland, called me, saying, "I can't find my daughter. Is she with you? She has been away for hours. And she would only go to the store to buy buttons for her coat." 
Her daughter was part of the college group that used to hang out at our house every week. She had been discouraged lately, but college people often are. 
In trying to be helpful, I  asked the mom what he daughter had said to her.
"Oh, she only left a note." 
"What did the note say?" 
When the mother read it to me... I had this sinking feeling. 
Later when I was thinking about the daughter's note, my mind made word associations with "button."  In Dutch, that word is also used for making a noose with a rope.
Maybe it was only a cry for help, but I called the mother back. 
Initially she did not want to believe her daughter's note was a suicide note. So I explained the word association. She finally got second thoughts and started involving more people in the search for her daughter.
The next day I  heard of the daughter's botched up suicide attempt.

There were two suicides that did not fail. People who were in my circle of friends. They were older, and may have made attempts before, that I did not know of. 
In December the rate of suicides peak. Why? Isn't it supposed to be the happiest time of the year? For many it is. But for equally many it is the most stressful time of the year (often job and family).
Suicide prevention is fairly easy to learn. You don't need a degree in psychology for that. Just picture seeing your friend drowning -what would you do?
Bytheway, you may print out this post for anyone who's dealing with a friend/relative who's in this position


These are the symptoms:
- usually they have been depressed for some time. Some are very good in hiding this, and may not take any medication.
- They may have a great job, and a family who loves them. They even may have close friends.
Yet, they have isolated themselves - in their mind (that's why you do not leave them alone, once you have established they may harm themselves).
- the greatest danger for suicide is when people have been very depressed, and suddenly they seem to feel "better." But that is when they have actually taken the decision to do the harmful act, and they are relieved about it.
-The suicide note is not only "a cry for help" as you saw in the story above. They do not leave a note though!

You have to be very direct with them to find out how serious they are about suicide. It is about life and death, so do not beat around the bush!
Ask 3 questions
1)do you have a plan? If they do, let them tell you their plan. 
Also ask how serious are they about it (are they just thinking about it vaguely, like a wish?  The more detailed their plan, and responses to questions  2 and 3 are, the more serious they are.
2)when are you going to do it? Referring to time and place. let them tell you when
3)How are you going to do it?  Referring to "tools", like gun, pills, rope, by drowning, etc.

What do you do when it's serious? Serious means imminent danger. Do not leave them alone. Not even for half an hour! It takes only a few seconds to pull a trigger, or ingest an overdose while going to the bathroom.
Call the police or their physician. If they don't have a doc., call the police or 911.

What to do when one is thinking about it, but not,   " I'm going to do it this week."
*  Get them out of their isolation
*  Make sure - go with them  to their doc or your physician if they don't have one,
    to get anti-depressants (If they resist medication, tell them, 
   "Just for a few weeks."). But that is not enough.
*  Make sure that you call them regularly, or do things with them 
   (getting them out of their isolation, giving them the feeling that you care)
*  Make his or her social network as wide as possible 
   (that's not Facebook, but friends meeting with him or her, face to face). 
* They will resist, trying to stay isolated. So you might need some help there from others. 
   Tell them that it is okay to be depressed, but they don't have to stay there. 
   (they often feel guilty, ashamed, or weak)

*  Crisis-therapy helps enormously. Help your friend get there. Go with him or her. 
   Sit in the waiting room and bring him or her back home.
   It's okay when others pay for the therapy. 
   Give your friend the phone number of a 24 hour crisis hot line.

Hope I have been clear enough. If you have some questions, please do not hesitate to email me Jeannette(dot)Coevorde1(at)yahoo(dot)com

20 comments:

Barry said...

Excellent advise on a subject that seems to be one of our few remaining taboos, not usually spoken about.

But badly needing a frank public discussion.

Gaelyn said...

Jeannette, more great information. The holidays are Very stressfull for some. Glad I choose not to be one of them.
It's amazing what you can do in PhotoShop to bring out colors.
Re: comments. Sometimes I just don't know what to say. But I do ponder.
Plus I've been occupied and my puter keeps shutting off.

jeannette stgermain said...

Barry,
thanks! It was kind of freeing, after I started grad work that there were no taboo subjects:) But I still regularly reassure people that it's okay to talk about "anything."

jeannette stgermain said...

Gaelyn,
You are actually one of my most faithful commentators! I truly appreciate your frankness and openness about things. Sorry to hear about your computer - do you need to bring it in for a check-up? Maybe you know that the store Best Buy has a repair dept. for computors...

You're bringing up a very good point that most stressed out people don't realize - they can choose to be stressed, or de-stress in some way!!

Jim Moffitt said...

I had a teenage nephew who many considered slow and who seemed to be doomed to be taken advantage of at large. Society is such sick bastard, I'm sure this boy would have been better off in a more caring place. Things like this can destroy a family and haunt you for the rest of your life.

Whitemist said...

I remember times in High school when i came frighteningly close to that "option". I do not know how I got out of that totally, but I dare say the help was not from people, but rather God and I have never been bothered since with that issue.
Having dealt with mentally ill people, that is an unfortunate option they face regularly, whether it is the disease or the medication.
A friend can help like nothing else, they will cling to that at times.
Very good post.
Thank you Jeanette.

Rudee said...

Well this is a timely post. I also think it's important to not forget about survivors of people who've committed suicide--especially this time of year. My close friend is one such person. Her daughter who had bipolar disorder overdosed on her meds about a year after her young son (a baby) had been accidentally scalded in a hotel bathtub and died from his injuries.

My friend found her daughter and did CPR, but couldn't help her (she is a critical care respiratory therapist). It was an awful time. I think my friend copes well most of the time, but I worry about her during the holidays. I make it a point to see her and talk to her often.

And while I'm on the subject, one thing I abhor in my medical community are comments about suicide attempts that mock the method. Things like, "well if he wanted to do it right, why did he call for help," or, "next time, he should use a different method." It intimates that these people aren't serious and only want attention. I had one such patient who would OD, always get found, end up intubated in ICU, get discharged to psych and ultimately the hospital and do it all over again. I knew one day, he'd complete the job, and I was not wrong. He ultimately succeeded.

jeannette stgermain said...

Jim.
Sorry to hear that about your nephew. Sometimes it is hard to understand why people can be so cruel - it's like they never grew beyond the bad pranks when they were 6 years old - I see them even more handicapped emotionally than your nephew is.

I've heard about people moving for that reason -family's support is very important and a sheltered job.

jeannette stgermain said...

Joey,
Yes, I believe in the miracle of God's healing, not only for the body, but also for the soul! And look how you in turn, have helped many people through your job!

jeannette stgermain said...

Rudee,
Thank you for telling me about your friend. Yes the survivors are miserable, for a few years at least. The people who mock have no understanding how desperate people who are depressed can be. They can only reason with the mind, but their emotional development is severely lagging.

You are doing the right thing for your friend during the holidays! Your friend is fortunate to have you as a friend!

DUTA said...

The beautiful rose stands in sharp contrast to the dark, gloomy subject of suicide.

Your post is very helpful in suicide prevention as it enumerates the symptoms and offers 'what to do tips'.

May we never have to deal with this!

Protege said...

Very intriguing and thought provoking post. So right you are, many people find this to be the most difficult time of the year.
I am sorry to hear that you had to experience the pain of someone leaving in this terrible way. I find it also sad that these people could simply not see any other way out...
xo
Zuzana

Gary's third pottery blog said...

oooph, difficult topic, but people can get pretty down this time of year

jeannette stgermain said...

Duta,
Every rose, like every person, is beautiful in its own way, and is worth living his/her life to the end!
When people are depressed, they overlook the beauty of their own life, and see nothing but darkness, so they throw their own life away.

I wish I could say that we probably never have to deal with this!

jeannette stgermain said...

Zuzanna,
Even though I've dealt with suicidal people many times in my practice, it effects you differently when they are in your circle friends.

We all want to take the easy path sometimes, and when we are strong we can lend our strength to someone who needs it!

jeannette stgermain said...

Gary,
I'm glad my bloggie friends are open to read it, because I know that I've given them the "know how" when it happens in a life close to them, or print out this page for one of their friends who's dealing with someone in their life.

Angie Muresan said...

That is so very sad, Jeannette. It breaks my heart. I will print this out and certainly watch for those signs. God bless you for bringing this to my attention.

jeannette stgermain said...

Angie,
You are so very welcome, Angie. I know you'll watch. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Sreddy Yen said...

This was a very informative post and you've given some great advice. When I was in primary school, yes, primaary school, a girl tried to slit her wrists - we could all see the marks on the wrists. It turned out that her parents were getting divorced.

Lovely photo! I love roses, especially when they're about to wither because they look so pretty then.

Yip, I'm on holiday for a month...then it's matric for me.

jeannette stgermain said...

Sreddy,
Since it was in elementary school, did the teacher try to explain something? Or, did most of the parents take care of that? (because in primary school you don't have the idea as much yet, that certain subjects are taboo).

Yes, I love wilted roses, I made a painting of this rose, and another wilted one:)

How nice to have off so long! Enjoy!