Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Talking Differently About Suicide

Hi there!  Glad you found us!  Our group call format is in transition.  If you need peer support, want to offer it, or want to learn more about either or both, please contact us:

Our basic approach to people helping people ('peer support') is summarized below, as well as a flavor of what we've offered in the past:

 Talking About Suicide - Tuesdays 9-10 PM EST

The in place to be if you’re out of options or out of sorts. No pros, no cops, no 911. Just real people who have been there, are there, and get it. Call 331-205-7196 (no pin needed) or click: uberconference.com/peerlyhuman

Why We Are Talking Differently About Suicide

Modern society has created a world that many of us do not want to live in. Many of us are in pain and can't imagine this ever changing. We sincerely ask if life is worth the effort. 

No one should face these kinds of difficult decisions alone. These are difficult matters of conscience. We have not arrived at this place lightly. Almost invariably, there are overwhelming challenges, significant experiences of life to date and important competing values and needs. 

Nor should anyone facing such difficult matters of life and death be met with the modern crisis response.  We call crisis services sincerely needing help, wanting help, and, most importantly, hoping for something that feels like help.  Quite possibly, this is hardest choice we have ever tried to make. We want someone on our side, who believes in us and cares about us in ways that are clearly more than 'just a job.'

Ideally, we also want someone who can offer meaningful aid.  Someone who has access to resources that address the overwhelming real life needs we often have.  With regard to services that claim to offer 'professional help', we legitimately hope, long for, have a right to expect that there will be someone on the other end of the line who knows how to navigate the world that we - not just they - actually live in.  In a world that claims to offer meaningful reasons for staying alive, we legitimately hope, long for, have a right to expect that such people will know this well enough to meaningfully help us find our way through.

So, who ever thought, in a 'civilized' society, that 'help' would come to mean that armed militia show up at your door, drag you off in handcuffs, forcibly inject you with debilitating poisons, mistake your compliance for recovery, and then proceed to bill you for the insult. If you weren't 'really' suicidal before, you certainly have good reason to be now.

Suffice it to say the outcomes speak for themselves.  One of highest peaks for suicide is one week into hospitalization.  In other words, exactly when we discover the current system for the cold, hollow, empty shell that it is.  About that time, we put two and two together and our reasoning has never been more painfully rational or sane: 

I was already miserable and desperate before.  I knew I couldn't find the way on my own.  I did the right thing. I swallowed my pride and called for help. I put my known life at risk (home, job, family, community respect).  Against my better judgment, I did what I was told and turned my fate over to the 'true' experts.  Yet, I feel worse and more hopeless than ever before. If this is the best my community has to offer, then what hope is there...?

Nor is it any surprise that our other peak for suicide is one week after discharge.  At this point, the system has convinced us we are better off on our own. We may or may not still want to die.  But, we certainly know the answer is not to be found inside the institutional walls.  So, we paste a smile on our faces, start looking grateful, and do whatever it is we need to do to convince the powers in charge to release us.  

More often than not, we return to lives than have literally shattered in our absence.  Bills went unpaid, jobs were lost, partners left, kids were removed from the home.  Cherished pets starved to death.  Everyone around us treats us both as if nothing happened -- and as if we are irreparably broken. The ambulance bill arrives.  Then the hospital bill.  Then the bills from all the independent providers not covered by insurance.  

It's far worse than before.  Worse, in fact, than we imagined possible.  Yet, attempts at meaningful conversation are met with, Have you told that to your doctor?  The invariable response to legitimate feelings, Do you need to take your meds?  It's like conditioning the right to freedom of Jewish concentration camp survivors on the post-release assessment of their former Nazi guards. 

No pros, no cops, no 911.  

To counter this trauma, we abide by a simple rule:  No pros, no cops, no 911.  

Here, we meet each other as human beings.  We know what it's like to be there.  We know how overwhelming the challenges are, and how unbelievably painful and enduring the feelings have been. We know how slim the hope and possibilities seem.  We know how much we are asking each other to continue on in times like these.

That doesn't mean we disrespect human life.  To the contrary, we value it greatly.  We see it as far more valuable than just the rote matter of just going through the motions of staying alive.  We actually value the fundamental personhood of the human beings who are making that effort.

And we respect these human beings to choose wisely. 

Our method therefore is not coercion, but inspiration.  We think this is the far safer, wiser option under the circumstances.  The essence of our humanity is fallibility.  We all have incomplete vision and, as a result, imperfect judgment.  No one, therefore can know what another is experiencing.  No one, therefore can know what another should do.

Instead of trying to convince human beings who have given up to keep on trying, we invest our effort in a different direction.  We try to create the kind of community that offers hope.  We try to create relationships that are worthy of human effort and trust.  We try to open up a vision of a future that is worth someone staying alive for.  We try to clear the path to the resources needed to make what is possible actually attainable.  

When we fail to do that, we try to be honest with ourselves. We recognize that we have failed another. We were not able to create relationships meaningful enough - or a community life rich enough or accessible enough - to inspire our comrade to stay alive.

We also consider long and hard what message someone may have been trying to tell us.  We consider long and hard what - consistent with our own needs for self-preservation - we could have done differently.  We consider, long and hard how, not just the person, not just us, but also the society we live in might need to fundamentally change.  

Our Commitment to Each Other

Here is the basic commitment we make, one human being to another, to the best of our ability: 
  1. Offer a human rights-informed, coercion free space
  2. Share from the heart & make space for others to do the same
  3. Hold each other’s truths with dignity, respect, interest and willingness to learn
  4. Maintain a heavy dose of humility for the things we don't yet know or understand
  5. Respect each person’s conscience and right to decide for themselves
  6. Create a community, rather than a support group
  7. Change the world in ways that make it livable for all human beings
  8. Support each other’s human rights, including the right to be left alone

To Join Us - Tuesday Nights 9 -12 EST:

  • Call 331-205-7196 No Pin Needed
  • Web in: https://www.uberconference.com/peerlyhuman

For international dial-in numbers: 

For Added Privacy:  

About Us: 

This call is part of the Virtual Drop In/ Crisis Respite.  We are an all-volunteer, peer-run drop-in community. Our mission (in progress) is to create a 24/7 community-on-call that feels like human family and advances human rights.  We are entirely self-funded, with a total budget of $22/ month.  For a current schedule of calls, look here:  http://right2bu.blogspot.com/2015/11/virtual-drop-in-crisis-respite-weekly.html

The Virtual Drop In/ Crisis Respite is  a project of the Wellness & Recovery Human Rights Campaign.  Our campaign advances respectful, dignified, non-pathological approaches to human challenges that get labeled, sanctioned or treated in the world of 'behavioral health.'  The campaign is entirely volunteer and peer-run, with no added budget.  To read more about our approach and our vision of a better world, see:  http://right2bu.blogspot.com/  or contact us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/WellnessRecoveryRights

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