By: Jeremy Morris, Associate Editor, USDR
In recognition of the 39th annual National Suicide Prevention Week, ValueOptions®, Inc., a health improvement company specializing in mental and emotional wellbeing and recovery, is sharing the powerful story of one of its own.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 90 percent of those who die by suicide are facing a mental or substance abuse disorder. To encourage awareness and the connection between self-harm and untreated mental disorders, ValueOptions employee Lisa shared how suicide impacted her life in a compelling video for Stamp Out Stigma, a company-wide initiative to address the prevalence of mental illness and its surrounding stigma.
After defense cuts forced him to leave a job he loved with the Navy, Lisa’s husband began displaying symptoms of depression: he became increasingly withdrawn, irritable and argumentative. Lisa’s husband initially declined to seek help, which exacerbated his depression, and he eventually took his own life.
Though devastated, Lisa quickly made the decision to talk openly about her husband’s experience with mental illness and suicide to encourage others to seek help. “I decided the day after he died that I wasn’t going to be ashamed,” says Lisa during her interview. “And I wasn’t going to let anybody denigrate him and his illness, and how his illness culminated in his death, his suicide. I was going to talk about it.”
In addition to sharing her personal experience, Lisa stresses the effects of mental illness stigma, and the importance of approaching mental health issues with compassion. To hear Lisa’s story, as well as the stories of others impacted by mental illness, visit www.stampoutstigma.com.
“Generally people who act on suicidal thoughts do not actually want to die; they are seeking relief from suffering,” said Dr. Tracey Smithey, ValueOptions, Medical Director from Tampa, FL. “If the underlying issues which are causing the suffering are addressed, then later, people are relieved that they did not act on their suicidal thoughts. Many acts of suicide and self-harm are unreported due to feelings of shame, isolation and stigma. There is tremendous relief when the burden of shame, stigma and isolation is lifted. We are social creatures who respond to support.”