Tag Archives: suicide

Crisis Text Line Charts Outline When & Where Teen Crises Strike

Most of you already know that I am a huge fan of charts and graphs that can provide a visual representation of the things many of us go through, from anything like stress or anxiety to those situations involving having thoughts of suicide or self harm. Mood charting has been has had a huge impact on the way I view my own mental health, and on the way I can convey what I experience to others.

Crisis Text Line, a New York based non-profit, is geared toward teens in crisis. The service allows users to text the crisis line about their crisis instead of having to call, making the subsequent conversation less intimidating and less likely to be overheard in public places (like schools or parks) where teens often spend much of their time.

This new format creates interesting opportunities, as text messages do leave behind a certain amount of data. This data has been combined and sorted allowing anyone to visit their website and select different types of crises and see the  time of day, day of the week, change over time, and crises per state based on the volume of text messages received about each type of crisis at any given time.

I realize that is a lengthy description, so here’s an example:

If you combine “time of day” and “anxiety” you will see that crisis texts involving anxiety peak between 7-8 am and at lunchtime.

If you combine “time of day” and “depression” you will see that crisis texts involving depression tend to peak around 8-9 pm.

Really, no description could do justice to how comprehensive and great these graphs are, giving us a unique opportunity to consider how we can help teens -or potentially anyone who is experiencing a crisis situation.

I would highly recommend checking this out, crisis topics range from eating disorders to bullying to sexual abuse and beyond, so there is a multitude of information here, not just that pertaining to depression or suicide.

You can find the Crisis Text Line website here, and their page specifically for the charts and graphs here.

There is also an article over at The Atlantic that contains a few more details I have not provided here if you are looking for more.

In Lieu Of…

To be honest, I find it extremely difficult to write when under the cloud of severe depression, and the little moments where I am able to come up for air don’t offer a lot of time to do things (writing here included).

Most of all, it is important to me to stay positive despite these thoughts, so writing here when they are present is a pretty big no-no.

In any case, I read a blog post a few days ago by New Zealand blogger Bipolar Bear that really resonated with me that I’d like to share with you in lieu of my own jumbled thoughts called Myth: intelligent people don’t commit suicide. Please check it out, I hope you like it as much as I did!

Distraction is the Name of the Game

Sometimes thoughts of self harm, suicidal or homicidal ideation can be combatted by psychiatric medications. These medications don’t work the same for every patient though, and it isn’t uncommon for folks with these persistent thoughts to have to face them with sheer willpower alone.

My therapist told me the best thing I can do is try to keep myself from lingering on these thoughts. Don’t let them convince you to do what they want you to do. 

The theory sounds simple enough; think of something else… but for anyone who has experienced all consuming thoughts of suicide or self harm, this is easier said than done.

Today I thought I would share a few of the things I have been doing to try and keep my mind occupied and off these harmful topics. Truth be told, it takes quite a bit of energy to continuously have to shift one’s focus, but it is a strategy that has worked for me both in times of impulsiveness and also in longer-term chunks of depression.

1. Listen to Music

This is something I’ve suggested before, and I find it most helpful if I not only listen to music but sing along as well. When my brain is busy trying to follow along with the lyrics, it doesn’t have time to think of anything else.

2. Listen to a Podcast or Audiobook

I do this most often when I am on the bus or walking around downtown. The content should be interesting enough that it keeps your attention… and free content can be found at your local library or on itunes. There are podcasts on an infinite number of subjects out there, including some involving mental illness (though I found those to be a little less helpful at distracting me from, well, mental illness!) I prefer interview podcasts or ones hosted by comedians. Audiobooks are great because I find that I can actively listen with less effort than trying to read (and sitting around reading the same page over and over again).

3. Watch a marathon

A movie or television series marathon, that is! I find it the most helpful to watch something I haven’t seen before (to keep my interest) but sometimes the questionable content of a new show can leave you back in the thought loop you’re trying to escape. In those situations I put on Friends or Seinfeld because I never get tired of them and I can watch them randomly or in order.

4. Try to solve a puzzle

Working on something like a crossword puzzle, sudoku, or even a jigsaw puzzle can keep your mind busy with minimal effort elsewhere.

5. Bake

Ok, this isn’t exactly the most healthy method of getting your mind off things (because I normally eat everything I’ve made after baking it) but baking is a lot like working on a puzzle. Having complete one step after the next leaves little room for thinking about other things.

6. Play a game

Games are a lot like puzzles, they  tend to keep my attention for a long period of time and help time to pass quickly.

I think the real trouble comes at the end of the day when I feel exhausted from diverting my attention and being worn down by the constant thoughts when I can’t focus my attention elsewhere. I find that if I feel like no longer being present, the best thing I can do is go to sleep. It isn’t uncommon for me to feel refreshed when I wake up the next morning.

Seeing the Effects of Suicide First Hand

It is Monday, and frankly the most beautiful day I’ve seen in Seattle for weeks… honestly this isn’t what I wanted to start my week sharing, but it is all I’ve been able to think about.

Over the weekend my boyfriend and I found out that someone in our lives has commit suicide.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a first for us, and I remember the feelings of shock and confusion all too well when this happened with another friend last year.

As someone who has bipolar disorder, it can often feel like I spend most of my time feeling suicidal, and being so familiar with this trick of the mind coming from pain or mental illness or stress makes it easier (but not easy) to understand these situations.

I also feel, however, that being someone prone to suicidality, that one of the best preventative measures I’ve ever experienced is seeing the effects suicide has first hand on someone I truly care about. Witnessing my boyfriend’s reactions to this whole situation really puts into perspective what might happen if something were to happen to me. He isn’t someone I would ever want to hurt, making the fight for life that much more important.

In the end, these moments always remind me how important it is to remind people that they can ask for help, that they aren’t alone, and to share your experiences with the people around you. We don’t always know who needs our help the most, so being willing to give it at any time is the most important thing of all.