Suicide: The Sound Of Silence…

When a loved one escapes a suffering that has become unbearable, words fail us…We are left with heart-wrenching grief, we are consumed with a room filled with utter loneliness and despair. All that is left, is the sound of silence…

Dearest Readers,

A warm welcome to all the readers of ‘Inspired Women’

I imagine that for most, the word suicide creates immense discomfort. This highly stigmatized topic is rarely openly discussed. It is shrouded in secrecy and in silence. We need to talk about suicide safely as it could save a life, including yours!

The focus of this article is twofold. Namely, to firstly break through the silence of suicide, (as we need to know that its both OKAY and NECESSARY to talk about it!) and secondly, by talking about it I would like to increase awareness of suicide into the public consciousness.

In addition, I also decided to write about the phenomenon of suicide as particular interest was given to this topic during the course of last month. For those who were unaware, each September is dedicated as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month.

So…, Lets Talk About Suicide as I strongly advocate that this topic should be addressed all year- round!

Breaking The Silence:

It is important to know that suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, background or socio-economic status. Therefore we can all benefit from talking openly about this topic.

Your conversation could save a life.

However, often we don’t know where to start or what to say, not only because of the sensitive nature of the topic, but also because we never learned how to talk about it! But how do you talk about ‘it’, if you’ve never even learned how to talk about your emotions in general?

This brings us to another important concept called, Emotional Intelligence.

Put simply, emotional intelligence (short for EQ), is the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and that of others;acknowledge the implications of your emotions and how they might change with time and events; manage your emotions effectively (to feel the negative emotion without necessarily reacting on it – in other words, controlling your emotions so that they won’t control you) as well as having a high level of stress tolerance in order to deal with pressure and conflict situations.

So, in light of the above, how does one cultivate a foundation for healthy emotional development? Lets start from the beginning, namely infancy –  Apart from the role that our genetics play, the environment greatly influences and shapes our emotional development. Research strongly supports that children learn through imitation and repetition. In other words, children develop their emotional vocabulary and their emotional maturity directly from adults (their parents, carers and teachers etc.)

Remember – children learn what they live… They can only be taught by examples. Children hardly ever fail to imitate adults. Seeing how adults functionally interact and connect with one another and how they effectively manage both pleasant and unpleasant emotions, provides the child with healthy examples. This in turn teaches the child the necessary and important emotional and social skills.

Therefore, adults have a vitally important role in assisting children to perceive, understand, manage and use their emotions, hence, ultimately to raise emotionally intelligent children.

Laying the foundation for healthy social and emotional development during early childhood is highly imperative. In addition, fostering and reinforcing these functional social-emotional needs during the remaining of childhood, adolescence and adulthood is an absolute MUST!

Its Time To Reflect: 

  1. What if your parents and/or carers failed to provide you with the above-mentioned development?

Unfortunately we live in a broken world where many adults were either never taught about the concept of emotional intelligence, or if they were familiar with the concept, they were never taught exactly how to develop this in their children. This generational cycle will continue to repeat unless someone actively intervenes in order to change the desired outcome. That someone is YOU!

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  1. How emotionally fit are you? Do you actively part-take in your own emotional development on a regular basis?

If the answer is ‘No’ – Fortunately its something you can learn to explore, implement and improve on! Although the absence of these skills would have in many ways contributed to emotional wounds at one stage in your life or another, becoming more emotionally conscious and reaping the benefits of this, is never too late.

Make an appointment with a psychologist that can assist you with this.

Remember that its not about being ‘perfect’, its about ‘effort’ and you are your only limit!! Practice and never stop learning!

Becoming Vulnerable:

Throughout the course of childhood children should be exposed to regular, age-appropriate conversations regarding life’s challenges and difficulties.  This should form part of the norm, rather than the exception. Yes, you heard right! We need to talk about tough times and more importantly how to deal with these ‘stormy seasons’. Being vulnerable is all about becoming authentic and openly discussing the reality of life’s hardships. You need to have those hard conversations in order to arm your children against emotional pain.

Society puts pressure on children, teenagers and adults to have it all figured out and to reach a sense of belonging. When we give into society’s pressure, we experience a loss of our ‘individuality’. Often its so hard to ‘rise above the background noise’, but it is not impossible.

We simply cannot pretend our obstacles away. However, when we are equipped with the necessary healthy emotional and social skills, together with knowing that being human means that you will find yourself in ‘dark, unfamiliar, overwhelming circumstances’ unexpectedly and in regular intervals during life, we increase the likelihood of people finding the courage to speak about it. To speak even when you reach a point of utter despair. To speak even when you find yourself thinking of a ‘ final way out’.

No one should ever suffer in silence and secrecy.

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Raising Awareness:

In order to raise awareness on the phenomenon of suicide, we need to understand the harsh reality of this growing epidemic.

The following statistics and information is directly quoted from and reported by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), a registered Non-Profit Organisation:

  • There are 23 suicides every single day in the country.
  • 460 attempted suicides every 24 hours.
  • A child as young as 6 years old committed suicide in 2017.  A few days later SADAG was informed of a 9 year old who committed suicide and just a week later, a 12 year old.
  • Teenagers have considered committing suicide due to a combination of issues including but not limited to family issues, violence, emotional or sexual abuse, bullying, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, loss of a loved one, learning difficulties and exam stress.
  • SADAG receives an excess of 600 calls a day on just their suicide helpline.
  • Depression doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, even the most successful, the most educated and to those who on the surface appear to have everything together.

(Above Source: https://youtu.be/YGgNlOaPLAQ)

To conclude, revise how you build a relationship with yourself, your children and your loved ones. Our hope lies in creating, investing and pursuing continuous healthy emotional relationships.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or in a suicide crises, please reach out and get professional assistance.

  • You can contact your nearest health physician, hospital or your medical aid in order to obtain a contact number for a private psychiatrist and/or a psychologist in your area.
  • You could also go to your nearest hospital’s emergency unit and ask for assistance.
  • You may also contact a counsellor at SADAG between 8am-8pm Monday to Sunday, Call: 011 234 4837 / Fax number: 011 234 8182. For a suicidal Emergency contact them on 0800 567 567. Their 24hr Helpline: 0800 12 13 14
  • You are welcome to contact me for appointments. Contact: 073 413 7246 or email:jessicavanzijl@yahoo.com

I don’t know what you are going to do for the remaining of today, but now is the time to tell your loved ones that you love them. Start a conversation and take time to ask questions.

Much love,

~ Jessica

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