Does Weather Trigger Suicidal Thoughts?

By PeggySue Wells

In northeast Indiana, we have tornado season each spring. While these twisters are nothing like those that blow through the tornado corridor in Oklahoma, Ft. Wayne has one of the nation’s highest dollar amount of wind damage. That bit of information was not in my relocation packet.

Tornado photo

Does your life feel like a tornado?

The influence of weather on mental health has long been debated. Even studied. Most conclusions I’ve read hedge with a mumbled something about the evidence being inconclusive. But I’ve wondered, does weather trigger suicidal thoughts?

An abstract from the National Institute in Helinski, Finland titled, Atmospheric Pressure and Suicide Attempts in Helsinki, Finland stated, “We found that daily atmospheric pressure correlated statistically significantly with the number of suicide attempts.”[1]

This spring when the dramatic weather blew in, the power in our small Midwestern town blew out. My oldest daughter telephoned from her home in the village. “Mom,” my grown daughter telephoned. “Do you have electricity at your place?”

“Of course,” I couldn’t help but rub it in. “We live in the country and have cooperative utilities.”

“Great. I’m coming out to stay the night with you.”

But no sooner had she settled into the spare bunk bed in her younger sister’s room when her emergency pager called her back out. Both a paramedic and a firefighter for our community, she’s on call when the weather lashes out in our county.

By morning the storm had passed but at breakfast my daughter looked like she had gotten little sleep.

“Were you helping neighbors with storm damage last night?” I poured coffee in her Disney princess mug.

“A different kind of storm damage.” She stirred milk into her coffee. “When we get strong drops in pressure or a significant increase in weather pressure, we have more medical calls.”

This was news to me. Does weather trigger suicidal thoughts? “I don’t understand.”

“Weather triggers migraines for those who have them, and we respond to more cases of stroke.”

Next door we heard the neighbor’s chainsaw cutting a tree that tornado force winds had blown down. She continued, “Unstable weather patterns can unsettle people who take medicine to balance their emotional and mental health. And, emergency services receives a greater number of calls for people thinking about suicide.”

While official studies remain inconclusive regarding the effect of weather on emotional and mental health, my unofficial conversations with emergency personnel and physicians in my area indicate these professionals routinely experience a rise in calls from people who are thinking about suicide. If you, or someone you know, find yourself struggling mentally and emotionally, check the weather. Perhaps you are feeling a drop in the atmospheric pressure. If there’s a storm outside raging as the storm inside feels, ask yourself, does weather trigger thoughts of suicide? Let the storm pass. And don’t hesitate to contact your physician or local paramedics, police, or firefighters and tell them what you are feeling. They will not be scandalized. They are trained to understand and to get you to the help you need. In an emergency scenario, dial 9-1-1.

As always, from anywhere, you can call the national suicide hotline number where someone is waiting to talk with you at 1-800-273-8255.

 

PeggySue is the author of What to Do When You’re Scared to Death and Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After.

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[1] Int J Biometeorol. 2012 Nov;56(6):1045-53. doi: 10.1007/s00484-011-0518-2. Epub 2012 Jan 26. Accessed July 25, 2013.

Journaling After My Son’s Suicide

By Karen Kosman:

 Journaling after my son’s suicide helped me cope with grieving.

 

Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

Two years after the loss of my son I found my grief once more resurfacing. I thought I had moved on and tried to push the feelings away. But, the tears flowed anyway, and I realized that grief has its own time schedule. “Lord, give me the courage to go on.”

I began dreaming about Robbie. In one dream, cliffs stood high above the beach where houses overlooked the ocean. Beautiful pine trees surrounded the houses, and a wooden staircase led down to the shore. Below on the beach I sat on a log. In the distance my son approached. I called to him, “Robbie, I want to tell you something.”

Instantly he vanished.

A few weeks later I shared my reoccurring dream with a close friend. Cynthia was an author and inspirational speaker who dealt with human emotions all the time in her ministry. I knew she would understand.

“Karen, I believe this is part of your grieving process. Tomorrow is your day off. Why don’t you call a Christian counselor? Therapy can help you deal with your feelings.”

Cynthia thought for a moment before continuing, “I have a condo in Oregon. Why don’t you and John spend your vacation there this year?”

“We’d love to, Cynthia, and I’ll think about the counseling.”

The next morning I made the call to begin my counseling. In therapy I found permission to express my fears, anger, and doubts. I also told of my hopes for the future. My counselor suggested I keep a journal.

Between therapy sessions, I journaled. Then I wrote about my dream, only I changed the outcome: I sat on a log and watched Robbie approach, but this time he sat down next to me. I looked into his eyes and said, “I miss you. I felt angry at you for leaving the way you did. I even felt angry that God hadn’t stopped you. I didn’t understand the depth of your pain, and that made me angry at myself.”

As I wrote those words, I felt my anger being lifted. Tears fell as I continued to write. Goodbye, son. I love you. I’m not angry anymore.

But, in my writing, unlike my dream, Robbie stood up and smiled. Then he walked back down the beach. He stopped and turned to wave. I waved back and felt the freedom to let go.

During my next session, I shared my story with my counselor. A few days later, over lunch, Cynthia read my journal. She smiled and said, “I think you’ll find that beach when you visit Oregon.”

I didn’t understand what she meant until John and I arrived at Cynthia’s vacation home. The condo was surrounded by pine trees and sat on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. We climbed down a wooden staircase to the beach below.

“Lord,” I prayed, “this is the beach in my dream—but I’ve never been here before!”

A gentle breeze touched my face, and I relaxed as the waves lapped onto the shore. I realized that God knows all things. He knows my coming and my going, my thoughts and my dreams. He sent me my dreams to help me to let go.

 This story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

 

The Crime of Suicide Baiting

by Laurie:

A recent site visitor told us her heartbreaking, horrifying story: her son was a victim of suicide baiting.

Be the one who would shout "Stop! There is hope for you! God loves you!" ?

You can, instead, be the one who shouts: “Stop! There is hope for you! God loves you!”

Debra DeAngelo from the iPinion Syndicate summarizes this well in her post, What have we become when suicide becomes entertainment?:

Can there be anything more soul-shredding than your child committing suicide? Yes: discovering that his/her death provided entertainment for a cheering crowd.

Who does that? Who goads a person into killing him or herself? I never thought about that much before. Neither did Kathie Yount of Harrisburg, Missouri. Until she called her son Dylan one random day and a strange voice answered. He identified himself as a medical examiner, and told Kathie that an unidentified man’s body was on the sidewalk six floors below her son’s apartment window at Hallidie Plaza in San Francisco.

Kathie’s own article describes her loss and the horror of the situation in her own post: “Suicide baiting — they cheered while my son jumped,”, writing:

“He died, dehumanized and in despair, in front of 1,000 people who mostly stood watching while others taunted him, provoking his death.”,

This could be compared to the Bystander Effect, a term that came about due to the Kitty Genovese murder case.

Yet Bystander Effect has more to do with apathy than with participation in a crime. Suicide baiting behavior falls more into the area of bullying, as opposed to apathy. It’s taunting and bullying someone to take their own life. This can also be in the form of cyberbullying, as in the case of Megan Meier who took her life after being bullied by an adult posing as a teen on the Internet. (See our related post: How to Stop Cyberbullying.)

An even better word for suicide baiting is sin. Evil personified. It doesn’t matter how many in a crowd are chanting “Jump!” Every one of us must be that person who offers healing and hope, not jeering or apathy. And this happens when we realize that each and every person–including yourself– is unique, created by God for a purpose, and loved by Him.

Every individual has the moral reponsibility to speak life — not death — into the life of others. 

Kathie Yount now feels compelled to prevent similar occurences by increasing public awareness of the crime of suicide baiting, and is pushing for changes in legislation to make suicide baiting a felony. You can visit Kathie’s Facebook page: Support Suicide Baiting Prevention Awareness.

To learn more about God through a relationship through Jesus Christ, visit our sister site: GodTest.com. Not only can He provide healing for your own hurts, but forgiveness if you have in the past caused others pain without considering the consequences.

If you have ever participated in or watched and not stopped a sucide baiting and feel guilt over that, do repent of that and ask forgiveness. Please do not consider this an excuse to take your own life. God can lead you to a new life of encouraging and helping others, possibly even saving the lives of others. You can also help stop the crime of suicide baiting by joining Kathie Yount in her efforts.

Chat, Listen, Love: Video and Texting for Suicide Prevention

By PeggySue Wells:

Learn about Remedy.fm, a Christian broadcast ministry using video and texting for suicide prevention.

Ask for help

“In our six years, we helped prevent 70 suicide attempts,” said Clinton Faupel, director of Remedy.fm.

We chat, we listen, we love is the motto for this web based broadcast ministry that produces on-demand video and radio content based on a Biblical worldview. Heard in 176 countries, Remedy encourages young adults to live on purpose and not by accident.

“Teens are hurting.” According to Faupel nearly 5,000 teens and young adults in America commit suicide each year. Correspondingly 26 percent of teens have consumed alcohol, 20 percent engaged in sexting, and one in three struggle with pornography.

How powerful is the internet as a touch point for teens who are thinking about suicide? Every week, 60 percent of teens spend 20 or more hours on the internet. When someone needs to connect, Remedy wants to be there.

“We have 60 volunteer soulmedics available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to chat and pray with anyone via text, live chat, or email,” Faupel noted. In the past year Remedy has engaged 168,058 chats with teens who could share their struggles anonymously and get help right away.

Are you having thoughts of suicide? Being bullied? Are you practicing self-harming behaviors? Hurting because your parents are divorced? Need relationship advice? Remedy is a text away. Faupel said, “We offer hope in the midst of hurting.”

Contact Remedy at www.RemedyLive.com. If you are thinking about suicide and need to talk, text “Remedy” to 313131.

Click on this link for a message to you from Remedy.fm

http://bit.ly/18s6Ilu

            PeggySue Wells is the author of more than a dozen books and serves as a soulmedic for Remedy.fm.

Is There Hope? Forgiveness (Decision 6)

Liz Cowen Furman:

Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Over a lifetime, anyone’s life, there are moments when one can feel desperate enough to even be thinking about suicide. There are so many things Satan uses to send a person to the brink of losing hope. And a life without hope is the one that may ponder suicide.

In the previous post of this Is There Hope? series, I promised to share with you the sixth decision a person can make to start getting their life back on track. If you recall I encouraged you to get Andy Andrew’s book, The Traveler’s Gift, which we are discussing in this series. In this book, decision number six is probably the most life changing of all:

I Will Greet This Day with a Forgiving Spirit.

Not forgiving people who have offended or hurt us doesn’t hurt them, it eats us alive from the inside out.

From page 138,  The Travelers Gift:

For too long, every ounce of forgiveness I owned was locked away, hidden from view, waiting for me to bestow its precious presence upon some worthy person. Alas, I found most people to be singularly unworthy of my valuable forgiveness and, since they never asked for any, I kept it all for myself. Now, the forgiveness that I hoarded has sprouted inside my heart like a crippled seed yielding bitter fruit.

No more! At this moment, my life has taken on new hope and assurance. Of all the world’s population, I am one of the few possessors of the secret to dissipating anger and resentment. I now understand that forgiveness only has value when it is given away. By the simple act of granting forgiveness, I release the demons of the past about which I can do nothing and create in myself a new heart, a new beginning.

 Forgiving someone who has hurt me doesn’t say that what they did isn’t wrong or didn’t hurt. What it does is release me from the responsibility of paying them back. It takes me out of bondage not them. And, oh how much power there is in those three little words; I FORGIVE YOU. Whether said aloud or just to myself, it lifts a huge burden. Sometimes the person we most need to forgive is our self.

More insights from Andy Andrews (Page 139-140 ):

I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself. For many years, my greatest enemy has been myself. Every mistake, every miscalculation, every stumble I made has been replayed over and over in my mind. Every broken promise, every day wasted, every goal not reached has compounded the disgust I feel for the lack of achievement in my life. My dismay has developed a paralyzing grip. When I disappoint myself, I respond with inaction and become more disappointed. 

 So until the next post resolve to forgive yourself and others and stop thinking about suicide. And have a listen to Andy Andrews on forgiveness. Don’t forget to read The Traveler’s Gift too.

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, NIV Bible)

He Loved to Sing: a Son Lost to Suicide

Karen Kosman:

A mother grieves as she recalls memories of a her son lost to suicide.

 

Image: anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: anekoho / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Excerpt taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

Karen remembers a special time when she and her husband walked on the beach after a heavy rainstorm. The sun broke through the clouds at sunset, and rays of light formed a cross upon the water. Sandpipers scurried along the seashore. The air felt crisp and smelled fresh God’s creation displayed serenity after the raging storm.

Those left behind after the suicide of a loved one often experience an emotional storm before light can shine once again on their hopelessness. They search for understanding. The weight of their grief causes a sea of uncertainty as they are tossed to and fro on their emotional waves, searching for a safe harbor.

He Loved to Sing “Jesus Loves Me”

Our minds play tricks on us when we are grieving. There were times I felt certain I heard my son’s voice. And then I’d remember our last phone conversation—the last time anyone talked with Robbie. Like a tape that had been recorded, my mind replayed our conversation over and over again.

I must have missed something in his voice, something that might have made a difference. He’d called on Thanksgiving. I’d convinced myself that Robbie was homesick and that accounted for the lack of joy in his voice. “You will be home for Christmas,” I told him.

The more I’d wrestled with the question—“Why?”—the deeper I sank into a pit of despair. Family and friends who tried to comfort me could not reach far enough into my prison of despair to pull me out.

At Robbie’s memorial service, I sat in the church where Robbie had gone to Sunday school and thought of how he loved to sing “Jesus Loves Me.” Yet, I also remembered how he’d refused to talk with others. People labeled him shy, but in my heart I felt sure it was because of his speech difficulties. Colorful arrangements of flowers, including a beautiful bouquet of red roses, stood side-by-side at the front of the church. As I looked around this warm, familiar building, echoes of the past replayed in my mind.

Although I heard every word the minister said, I journeyed back in time. . . .

Robbie was three, standing on our couch and looking out the sliding glass door at the rain falling. He announced, “De sky is crying.”

“Why?” A sob escaped my lips, and I felt my husband’s hand touch mine.
Yet I moved onto another memory, Robbie’s fifth birthday party in the park.

“Happy birthday, Robbie,” I said, as I knelt down to kiss him. When I tried to smooth down the hairs on top of his head, that stubborn cowlick stood back up. I smiled and asked, “Would you like to open your presents now?” His brown eyes grew huge as he looked over the pile of presents. His expression was serious as he thought about which package to open first.

Returning to the present, I stifled a sob, and thought, if only . . . Within seconds Brother Stanley’s words penetrated my heart, and I listened intently. “It’s not for us to judge, but a time for us to remember God’s mercy . . .”

O, God, I need you. Please help me to accept what I cannot change.