A Bridge to Help: Resources

About Suicide: Risk Factors & Warning Signs

Visit Resource

There’s no single cause for suicide but there are warning signs that a person may be suicidal. If you see these signs in yourself, get help. If you are worried because you see theses signs in a friend or loved one, don’t handle it on your own: be a bridge to help. If you are a minor, approach an adult you trust, like a guidance counselor. No matter your age, you can always get help 24/7: text “NAMI” to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Suicide Survivor: A Resource

Visit Resource

From The American Association of Suicidology’s Survivor’s Division, A Journey Toward Health and Hope: Your Handbook for Recovery After a Suicide Attempt is a handbook that guides people through the first steps toward recovery and a hopeful future after a suicide attempt. It includes personal stories from survivors who share their experiences as well as strategies, such as re-establishing connections and finding a counselor to work with.
If you are a survivor, seek help: you are important.

See the Signs? How to Get Help

Visit Resource

If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone. There are many support services and treatment options that may help. Some are free or can be obtained on a sliding scale. A change in behavior or mood may be the early warning sign of a mental health condition and should never be ignored. It is a sign of strength to reach out for help.
If you are in crisis now, text “NAMI” to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Use Art to Heal: Tell Your Story

Visit Resource

The Love Story Media is a nonprofit publisher and educator whose mission is to take away the stigma of depression and reduce suicidal intent. They believe there are two paths for those facing ideation—self-destruction or self-expression—and invite individuals to create art to express grief, and by this means transform self-destruction into self-expression when dealing with personal adversities.

Pause; Breathe; Listen

If you are reading this, perhaps you are having a day like I had a few months back. Stay with me: read on.

For weeks, I had been engulfed in a depressive episode that was being fed by anxiety with a silver spoon. Everything I had to do—even brushing my teeth—took more energy than I thought was possible. Items on the lists of “important to do” and “must do” seemed to rain down on me like hail, pounding on me to stay in bed. Little was accomplished which made me feel worse than I was already feeling. And my “want to do” lists seemed like memories from a dream I’d once had. Either I was ravenous and eating everything in sight, or I could not eat at all. I was lonely but couldn’t stand to be around people when given the opportunity. Simultaneously, I felt ferociously angry and an echoing, hollowing sadness. I slept from the moment I got home from work just to muster the energy to put on a mask the next day to go back; despite my mood I was driven to survive and I needed that job to pay the bills. It was a challenge to get through the day feeling like I did, but I clung to the belief that—just like all storms—it would eventually ease up and pass. I hunkered down: I took vitamins, drank water, tried to sit in the sun, made shakes if eating was too much effort, and “hung in there”.

Page 1

But, then an anvil dropped: something bad happened in my family. Heaviness consumed the air in the house; it was hard to breathe and I felt the need to escape. I decided I would try to take a walk. As I reached into the closet for my jacket, I screamed; the hand touching the hanger did not seem to be my own. Later, I learned that for the first time I had experienced depersonalization: the self literally trying to escape the body.

I was frightened and didn’t know what to do. I fell onto my bed fully clothed, shivering. Cold, hollow, and finally struck with the feeling of hopeless, hot tears ran down my face, drenching my pillow. I felt frozen. My mouth opened to scream and no sound came out. The gray shadow in which I’d been lingering—waiting to start to feel better—was shifting and I saw only darkness.

Page 2

On an impulse, I mustered energy to put in my earbuds. The notion felt providential. As if in a trance, I managed to create a playlist of three songs. First, I listened to Metallica’s Fade to Black and was reminded someone else had slipped into darkness and “lost the will to live” and felt there was “simply nothing more to give”, but not only got through feeling that way but lived to tell the tale to others through epic, beautiful music. Then, R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts enveloped me. Not everyone faces deep bouts of anxiety and depression like I have periodically throughout my life, but it was helpful to be reminded that in one way or another “everybody hurts sometimes”. It felt like a prophet was reaching out through the music, coaxing me that even if I thought I’d had “too much of this life” to hang on: “Don’t throw your hand if you feel like you’re alone. No, no, no, you are not alone.” I have never met Michael Stipe, but hearing him sing “hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on” felt like a friend hugging and rocking me. I actually listened to Everybody Hurts twice. Finally, I was called to recall that my situation and my family’s would improve once I put on Blue October’s Jump Rope. It was like calling a friend I didn’t have to say anything to while on the line who encouraged me to “keep pushing through it all”. I took a deep breath: “Don’t lose yourself or your hope: remember, life’s like a jump rope. Up down, up down.”

Page 3

Madonna sings that “music makes the people come together” and I believe it’s true. When I first went to bed, I felt my bones would shatter if I took a single step. But as I listened to my playlist, I focused on my breathing, on hearing the music, and letting it ground me. By the time the playlist finished, I felt calmer. I didn’t feel 100% healed, but I was able to put on my jacket and go for a short walk. My arms were my own. I used them to swing at the playground down the block from my house for a bit before I called one of my lifelines, a loved one three time zones away. By the time I was home again, I felt better. I was still in a gray place, but the black was eradicated.
Yugi Sakugawa created lovely art about meditation that I found in a Los Feliz bookstore and bought on an impulse. One of my favorite images is a reminder that sometimes it’s okay if all we do in a day is breathe. If the day is too much to face, it’s okay to breathe through it, then sleep to get to the next day. What’s important is that we keep breathing.

Page 4

If my 90’s playlist is too antiquated for your taste, find your three or four songs to help you breathe through the worst of your moments. Perhaps Imogen Heap’s Speeding Cars is up your alley. But please, keep breathing. Call for help—the crisis line if you think there is nobody in your life to call or who will understand—but keep breathing.

As my childhood literary hero Anne Shirley says, “tomorrow is always fresh”. It’s okay to just breathe today if you need to: tomorrow may be hard, too, but it’s possible to get through it all. It may take some time, but each day is a promise that things can be better. I have taken many breaths since the bad day when I tried to escape myself. I confess that I have had more depressive episodes after this bad moment, though not as bad. However, much of my life has been filled with joy. I attribute this to the fact that I pause when I find I have slipped into darkness and search for a way to get through the black and then the gray. I maintain faith I will return to an existence where bands of prismatic colors surround me; when I hurt, I pause, find a way to cope through the lightening and the hail, and reach out for help to get back to the rainbow when I need it. You can, too.

–Talora Michal–

Page 5

Always remember:
You’re braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.

– A.A. Milne

Back to beginning…