3 Minutes – Suicide the best kept secret – Prevention

Recently I watched Our Silent Emergency by Roman Kemp (young UK media celebrity) who recently lost his best friend to suicide. While it focuses on what can be done to get younger males to start talking about their struggles amidst increasing rates of suicide, I found it helpful. I lost my daughter to suicide in 2005.

Regardless of age, gender or circumstances, mental health problems remain shrouded in secrecy and stigma. It’s been this way for years. I’m not sure what will ever change this regardless that we are talking more openly about the subject. It was no different when my daughter died .

The tragedy is that when a young person dies by suicide, it leaves a traumatic impact on the best friend(s) left behind. They seldom ever get over it. The guilt and regret can haunt them well into their older years. Just like loving family members believe they were responsible in some way for any family member’s suicide, friends believe they should have saved their best bud from dying. My daughter’s best friend struggled with these same feelings. Specifically, not confiding in us the best kept secret my daughter shared with her. Which was her wish to die.

Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

Suicide the best kept secret

One statement by Roman that struck me poignantly in his documentary was that it would only have taken him 3 minutes to run to his friend’s house. He could have been there. He should have been there for his buddy. And he would have been there if only he’d known his friend was in trouble. A guy who was the life of the party but had obviously kept his troubles hidden from everyone.

But then, who truly knows when anyone intends to die? Suicide really is the best kept secret. It doesn’t matter who is at risk.

The other thing that caught my attention was how much we hesitate to dig further into finding out how “okay” our loved ones really are. While some females may be more willing to discuss their needs than males, nobody’s talking much about suicide. If they were there wouldn’t be so many deaths.

The number one reason people choose suicide

The number one reason people choose suicide is because they believe they are a burden to their loved ones. Hearing this in the documentary helped me let go of some of the searching I’ve been doing for years. Feeling desperate to know why my daughter chose to die. This was what she believed too.

Prior to discovering this after her death, the thought never crossed my mind that my child thought she was a burden to us. I assumed she knew we would be there for her no matter what. As a mom, it makes me feel less inadequate and more the same as millions of other parents who couldn’t have done any more to prove this was simply not true. Having said this, it’s clear all survivors missed the chance to talk with our kids, friends and other loved ones about their mental health and other struggles.

Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

Why we don’t talk about suicide

Talking about our problems helps to squash all the negative things we tell ourselves that simply aren’t true. False stories ramp up in our heads and sometimes force us to make terrible decisions. But in the end, they always are just our stories. We can never presume to know what anyone else is really thinking.

One reason why we don’t talk about suicide is because we cannot fathom that anyone we love would want to kill themself. But people of all ages do kill themselves. Every day! We need to start accepting this as a fact. We are ALL vulnerable to a single moment that could compel us to make an irreversible decision. One that creates lasting emotional damage to all survivors.

3 minutes

It would have taken Roman only 3 minutes to reach his friend’s house to check on him. It only took about 3 minutes of the slightly more than twenty-two years of life my daughter had lived for it to be wiped out. Minutes I’ve thought long and hard about over the last sixteen years. Trying to end my suffering that’s been exceptionally hard to overcome.

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

What we can do to better support each other in our mental health needs:

  1. Ask twice. When we ask someone how they are, and they reply “okay”, ask again. People often reveal how they are really feeling after being asked more than once.
  2. Talk. Confide in someone we trust about how we are feeling and what we are thinking. It can change our story.
  3. Listen. Listening without judgement to what our loved ones and friends are going through can literally save lives.
  4. Fur babies. Someone interviewed in this documentary who had survived a suicide attempt found talking to his dog served the same purpose as talking to a human. Animals bring us renewed hope and optimism with their unconditional love. If you don’t have a living pet, a stuffed animal works just as well.
  5. Honesty. While there is still stigma attached to mental health issues and it is difficult admitting we have a problem, being honest with ourselves and our closest loved ones about our mental health can set us on our path to healing.
For newly bereaved parents

For other support, books and resources related to grief, suicide and healing visit vonnesolis.com.

GETTING “UNSTUCK”

This post is about getting unstuck. From negative patterns and thinking. From feeling unmotivated, lost or restless. Or worse, stuck in an unwanted situation, job or relationship.

Who hasn’t felt unmotivated, lethargic and a little lost at some point in their life and without a single idea about what to do next? Not even really caring. For some people, these feelings may persist for years, while for others, last just a few weeks here and there.

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“Emotional Charity” – We can all afford to give

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how often we are called to act with more kindness and sensitivity towards others when we don’t really feel like it. Yet, the moment we become aware that we can respond to any situation in a more positive way, is the moment we can’t turn our back on trying to be kinder, gentler people. With ourselves and each other. I say trying because it can be difficult wanting to be nice sometimes.

We can change the way we treat others

While it’s vitally important we treat ourselves with kindness and gentleness to heal, this post is more about how we can change the way we treat others to alleviate any tension we all face in our relationships. In normal times when we are regularly challenged to juggle our competing emotions with others, the pandemic has ramped them up. Nearly every other news article is about how the pandemic is affecting us. Millions of people are facing a variety of challenging situations.

There’s been a noticeable increase in mental health issues, divorce, people struggling with isolation, loss, illness and a host of other problems. It’s a whole other level to manage our emotions in more trying times. People are frustrated. Situations are unpredictable. For many life feels scary. We all deserve to feel supported by each other and in particular, by the people who surround us. Which is where emotional charity comes in.

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What is emotional charity?

Emotional charity is when we decide to be kinder, gentler people with others. Which isn’t a whole lot different than being able to feel compassion for what anyone is going through. Demonstrating emotional charity happens when we are willing to be the first to forgive. When we can accept where others are in their life and we don’t expect anything from them. Which helps us become more compassionate human beings.

While we can choose to be emotionally charitable just by deciding to be nice, the truth is that being nice is a challenge for many people. As a long-term sufferer, I can easily feel the suffering of others. At the same time, I know how difficult it can be to want to be nice to others. Especially, our nearest and dearest.

Behind every act of meanness is someone in pain

Behind every act of meanness is someone in pain. While it’s tempting to run from conflict rather than face it head on, responding to someone in pain with gentleness and kindness is more helpful. We can end all conflict in our relationships by understanding there’s always a deeper reason for anyone’s outburst, silence or misery.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Compassion is a powerful emotion for healing

While our brains haven’t developed to allow us to always feel compassion for others, when we can feel it and are on the receiving end of someone else’s care, we can start to heal. In fact, compassion is one of the most powerful emotions for healing

Anything we experience as trauma has a profound impact on our body, nervous system and brain. Physical sensations include a racing heart, rapid breathing, body rigidity. Emotionally, we can’t connect with others. We feel isolated, angry and sometimes rage. Compassion helps to ease these symptoms. (To read more about compassion related to trauma and PTSD click here.)

Understanding another person’s situation is effective

Research has shown that subjectively understanding another person’s situation is highly effective for our healing. For any one of us, deciding to be more emotionally charitable is essential to helping each other get through the trying times.

Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash


We don’t have to be severely traumatized or suffering to benefit from the compassion of others. Being more understanding of anyone’s situation is a significant part in all of us contributing to the creation of a more inclusive, tolerant, caring society.


To be more emotionally charitable:

  1. Use a gentle tone of voice when responding to someone acting out.
  2. Ask your loved one how they are REALLY feeling (like you mean it and have the time to listen).
  3. Offer your loved one specific support rather than tell them to call you if they need anything.

We still have a long way to go to get more comfortable airing our mental and emotional discomforts without feeling any stigma. However, if there is something positive about the pandemic, it’s that it is allowing us to express these and some of our other vulnerabilities more frequently and in an open, inclusive way. Which is a great thing to help bring about the longer-term changes that we all need.

To learn more about my latest publication:

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For more about my other books and online support vonnesolis.com.

Need vs. REAL Need – How to tell the Difference

Last post, I wrote about how to break the habit of telling ourselves we “have to” or “should do” this or that. Thinking we need to do whatever we are telling ourselves is often an automatic reaction to believing we must meet a specific need. Urgently! But thinking and acting this way only puts excessive pressure on ourselves that keeps us in a state of frenzy. A cycle that can be hard to break free of.

There’s a difference between knowing real need from those needs we pressure ourselves into thinking must be met, right now! These latter often are tasks we may conclude aren’t so important when we stop to think about our priorities.

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The peril of telling yourself I “have to” or “should” – how to break the cycle

How often do you catch yourself saying I “have to” or “I should do” this or that? You may not even be aware of how much you repeat this to yourself each day. Yet, telling yourself “I have to” or “I should” can be perilous to your mental and physical health.

When we have an opportunity to fill our spare time (yes, I can hear you laughing), the decisions we make based on what we are telling ourselves, may not be in our best interest. This is particularly true when we are recovering from loss. Living with a disability. Or, when we are trying valiantly to meet our own high standards or the expectations of others. The stress can be enormous!

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TEN TIPS: HOW TO TALK TO THE BEREAVED

I’ve been dealing for years with this issue of people not knowing how to talk to me once they find out I’m a bereaved mom. Given it’s been over fifteen years now, it’s getting a bit monotonous. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. There are plenty of other bereaved parents who struggle with the same reactions I get once people find out I’ve lost a child. In fact, I’m certain many bereaved people routinely experience the discomfort of those with whom they have shared their loss, no matter who has died. People in general, just don’t know how to talk to the bereaved.

While it’s rare for me to talk about my daughter with just anyone, it isn’t because I don’t want to. It’s because I learned early in my bereavement that I had to take extreme care in choosing who to share my loss with simply because of the overwhelmingly reactions I got when people found out I’d lost a child. (Usually this was in response to them asking me how many children I had). All of them wanted to know how she had died, which only made their discomfort even worse because it was a suicide.

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THE POWER OF RELIEF

When I first became bereaved in 2005, after the suicide of my daughter, I felt confused and distrustful of everything. My entire world had fallen apart. I had no idea how I would ever live without my child and was terrified something else really bad would happen to my family. I couldn’t imagine what I could ever do again that would feel worthwhile. I felt isolated and different from everyone else and in pain so extreme, I didn’t think I could survive it. I felt powerless. There was no relief in sight.

But I did survive. More importantly, I’m starting to truly live again through a healing process I can’t wait to share with others.

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New Year, New Mindset – Hold Up!

Though I wish everyone reading this the absolute best for this new year, I’m not going to start this post off by saying how glad I am to say goodbye to 2020. In fact, and with the greatest respect and compassion for all those who have suffered hardship during 2020, I am grateful not to have been impacted negatively by the Pandemic. Nor was any of my family. We were spared.

Whew! I do not want to endure any further hardship in my life. In fact, I am so happy to say I am finally doing a darn good job turning things around in my life when it comes to healing and embracing positive change.

However, for those newly bereaved who have suffered loss of a loved one, economic hardship, unwanted lifestyle changes, a relationship breakup, family separation, or their hopes and dreams, all because of something way beyond their control, it’s a new year. You can have a new life by developing a new mind set. Change your thoughts. Change your life and all that. Or can you?

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Hope for the Holidays!

Like most people around the world who are celebrating a major holiday this month (for me it’s Christmas), we all could use a little hope. Nothing is the same for any of us this year. Maybe it won’t be ever again, as cliché as this sounds. Millions of people have been affected by the pandemic and reeling from the various losses and struggles they are experiencing as a direct result of it. It’s easy to lose hope and see only the bad in everything when we are hurting and afraid.

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THE GAME-CHANGER – 988 SUICIDE HOTLINE!

Now, I realize that suicide is not a topic most people openly want to talk about. But sometimes we have to. I guarantee that everyone knows someone who has died by suicide, if they haven’t experienced it in their own family or close circle. Suicide is a global crisis that every country admits to, but doesn’t know how to solve.

As a mom of a daughter who died by suicide in 2005, I was thrilled to recently learn that a 9-8-8 national suicide hotline number has been proposed for Canada. I remain hopeful the motion makes it before Parliament for a vote within weeks, and that it is approved and turned into law within the next two years. I agree with mental health professionals and advocates that the hotline will be a game-changer for Canada. It will transform the way we think and talk about suicide and improve support for those at risk who call in. I am certain it will save lives. People just have to call!

Continue reading “THE GAME-CHANGER – 988 SUICIDE HOTLINE!”