New American Association of Suicidology Help for Suicide Survivors

two people holding handsThe horrific story of Andre Johnson, a Wu Tang Clan-affiliated rapper who survived a jump from a second-story building after severing his own penis, is calling attention to the challenges faced by suicide survivors. Johnson’s suicide attempt comes in the wake of a vote by the American Association of Suicidology to focus on suicide survivors. Suicide kills 38,000 people annually, but one million people survive a suicide attempt each year.

The Stigma of Suicide

Despite numerous efforts by dozens of organizations designed to prevent suicide, suicide attempts still carry a significant stigma, and suicide survivors may receive little support. Suicide support groups often focus on the needs of friends and family members of people who have committed suicide, not suicide survivors.

Moreover, the national dialogue about suicide sometimes emphasizes the “selfishness” of people who try to kill themselves—a cultural norm that can increase the depression of suicide survivors. The American Association of Suicidology aims to change all of this by creating a new division specifically designed to represent the needs and interests of suicide survivors.

The Aftermath of Attempts

It seems obvious that a suicide attempt demands immediate assistance. For many suicide survivors, though, the aftermath of an attempt is isolating and frightening. Suicide survivors may be placed on the psychiatric floors of hospitals, completely isolated from friends and family. They may also be victimized by the anger and disappointment of loved ones, further compounding their isolation and depression.

Getting Help

If you’ve survived a suicide attempt, you may be overwhelmed by demands from loved ones, the pressure to conform to a treatment regiment, and the depression that can sometimes lead to a second attempt. The American Association of Suicidology’s new push to help suicide survivors has yielded a section of their website specifically devoted to this under-served population. If you need longer term help, mental health interventions such as therapy and support groups can help you weather the storm. You can look for a therapist to help with depression or suicidal thoughts on the GoodTherapy.org therapist directory by searching here.

If you’re in crisis now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

References:

  1. Carey, B. (2014, April 13). Suicide prevention sheds a long-standing taboo: Talking about attempts. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/us/suicide-prevention-sheds-a-longstanding-taboo-talking-about-attempts.html?_r=0
  2. Duke, A. (2014, April 16). Rapper Andre Johnson severs penis, jumps off building, but survives. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/showbiz/rapper-severed-penis/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
  3. Suicidology today. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.suicidology.org/home

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  • Kyra

    Kyra

    April 24th, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    Can you think of how much shame you would feel if you had tried this and then not succeeded? You now are going to feel all of this extreme pressure to get help and heal and you might not mentally be ready to do that at all. Not to mention the health problems that you could have caused via the attempts. This is something that will be very stressful for any family to encounter and you should make sure that you have someone who cares about you and can get you the help that you need to make it through an experience like this.

  • mickie

    mickie

    April 24th, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    The stories of suicide are ones that have been hidden for far too long now. These are the conversations that need to be had and the stoires that need to be told. Survivors are such a wonderful resource for all of us, who can give un insight to the pain that those who would even contemplate this have to be feeling and the work that we need to do as friends and family to prevent these terrible situations. I know that talking about this can be quite painful and difficult but we have to know that talking is the first line of defense.

  • Austin

    Austin

    April 25th, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    I hope that this also includes help and support for those people who have lost someone to suicide and need help navigating those tragic waters.

    This can be the worst kind of pain to process and live with because you are left behind with question that will forever be left unanswered and thoughts about this person that will never leave.

    It is so difficult to talk about suicide except with those who have actually lived through the horror of losing someone in that way and yet most of us keep a lot of that hurt inside simply because of the stigma and the perceived shame that is still associated with the subject.

    I think that if more of us felt this open forum was available for us to talk and share we could come together as a community and offer one another the support that we need to make it through another day.

  • rosalee

    rosalee

    April 26th, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    How could it be that someone who tries to commit suicide is being selfish?
    Have we even stopped to think about how much this person has to have hurt to even get to this point of trying to commit suicide? How can we prejudge them wehn we don’t have any clue as to the pain that they have felt that has taken them to this point/? Until we have walked in their shoes it is very unfair to assume that we know anything about them or that is going on in their life.
    I think that to call someone who hurts like this selfish is in actuality pretty dumb and ignorant.

  • Zeta

    Zeta

    April 28th, 2014 at 3:30 AM

    Everyone needs someone to talk to, and whether that is the person who has tried to commit suicide or someone who has had those thoughts, we all need to have an outlet for sharing our thoughts and feelings and working things through with someone who listens and who cares. I know that we all have wonderful intentions but when someone is intent on ending their life then they need more, sometimes more than what I know that I would be equipped to handle! It would be great if everyone knew that there is always a place that you can turn, a place where there still may not be all of the ansers but which can help you find them if you need them. Life is not always as hopeless as it may seem.

  • Kris R

    Kris R

    April 28th, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    Severing one’s penis is usually a sign of Gender Identity Dysphoria issues, in which the penis is seen as an alien part of the body. Has anyone addressed this aspect of the news story?

  • watson

    watson

    April 28th, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    There are still going to be those families who feel the shame and refuse to talk about it, no matter what tools you offer them.
    You can reach out time and again but until they are ready they might not be willing to talk about the pains that they deal with related to this subject.

  • Reena

    Reena

    April 29th, 2014 at 3:52 AM

    Could anyone explain to me the rationale for isolating you from family if you have tried to commit suicide? Isn’t this like taking you away from the people who love you and care about you? Isn’t this what you would need during this time?

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