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Life Saving KCPT 4-Part Series On Suicide Prevention and Bereavement begins tonight: Bipolar Disorder And Suicide Risk


I had word Wednesday morning that my cousin Teresa and her family were heartbroken. A close friend of her son and daughter had died by suicide. Unfortunately, it seems barely a month or two go by without having word of someone I know experiencing the same loss and tragedy. This was the second such loss Teresa's family has experienced in the past year. Both individuals were male and in their early twenties.

The United States has thirty thousand suicides each year. Suicides per states are believed to be based on five main factors: mental health resources, barriers to treatment (yes, this includes health care), mental health treatment utilization, socioeconomic characteristics and mental health parity - this deals with generosity of the state mental health parity coverage so the population can receive mental health treatment.

Please watch the KCPT 4-Part series with your family and friends. Please help spread the word about the series. It could be a life saver.

KCPT 4-Part Series On Suicide Prevention and Bereavement

Part 1 Bipolar Disorder and Suicide Risk - Thursday, January 26th @ 7:30.

Part 2 Depression: How To Identify It in Yourself and Others: How To Help A Friend; How To Help Yourself - February 16th.

Part 3 Suicide, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, What to Say To Someone Who is Considering Suicide - February 23rd.

Part 4, Survivors of Suicide Loss - March 1st.

The series features people affected by depression, bipolar disorder and suicide loss. Dr. Linda Moore, a Kansas City based psychologist, Bonnie Swade, Suicide Awareness Survivor Support MO-KAN and Marcia Epstein, Director of Headquarters Counseling Center (211 E 8th St. #C, Lawrence, Kansas) will be presenters during the series.

Headquarters Counseling Center for free life support counseling: 785 - 841-2345 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline center for Kansas: 1-800- 784-2433, or 1-800 - 273-8255.
All discussions remain confidential.

Did you know Headquarters offers free bimonthly suicide survivor group meetings?


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

You never know what will happen from one day to the next.

A friend of mine, J. graduated from the KU School of Pharmacy with a 3.75 or 3.8 GPA, almost straight As. I don't know how many Pharmacy school students graduate with a GPA higher than 3.75, but I'm sure it isn't very many.

1) Later, there I was, looking at J.'s twenty two year old body in his casket. Since he was a well trained pharmacist and had access to any medication he wanted, it was expertly done, very painless, and an extreme shock to everyone who knew him.

2) I had a neighbor, C., down the street, four houses down. I never talked to him, but I did sort of know him. We always waved whenever we saw each other. He used a shotgun.

3) Then there was S., a man I was rather close to. Even though he had very serious health issues and certainly would not be living much longer anyway, it still was a shock. Those pills can really do it to you, now this made two.

Many years before S. had told me that he had spent quite some time explaining to one of his friends exactly how to tie a hangman's noose, right down to the thirteen turns that it's supposed to have. And then he was so surprised when the man he had instructed so well put his new knowledge to good use only two days later.

4) I could hardly believe it when I received that phone call telling me about D. Why? Well, that's the question everyone asks, and there will never be an answer. It didn't make any sense.

I knew him very well, so I knew he was not very happy where he was living, and that he could sell everything and move to where ever he wanted and probably not even need to work.

He was an accomplished concert level pianist. As he was grinning at you, he could tell you jokes with the music he played. I've never known anyone else that was able to do that. You'll never see that though, because the music has died. Pills number three, or at least that's what I was told. And, they didn't find him for a very long time is another thing I was told.

5) Another shock was when I received a long distance telephone call telling me that a very good friend of mine, A., was dead. What that stunned me the most when I learned of his death was that I had talked to him on the phone very late the night before.

The coroner's report claimed he died Sunday night. I knew that wasn't true, because we had been on the phone until after midnight, so the day of his death was actually Monday. But it was not possible to determine the exact time, again due to the circumstances of a rope.

I was the last person he ever talked to. He asked me for some advice. I would have given him very different advice than I did if I had known what he was thinking.

Keep that in mind whenever you talk to someone, because it might be the very last time you ever talk to them. Your words can make a big difference in someone's life, and it might be the difference between life and death.

But you'll never know for sure.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

I was three when my mother P died by suicide. We weren't allowed to talk about it. We grew up blaming it on everything but what it was - a disease, an undiagnosed illness.

In high school J almost died of a self inflicted gun shot wound to his stomach. He was out of school a long time before he was well enough to come back to school. He was very, very thin once he returned.

A high school friend never spoke about her Dad's death. He walked onto railroad tracks late one night. I would stand beside her at lunch line thinking how beautiful she was and how sad about her father.

A friend of mine had a brother who used a gun to his face. He survived, but was blinded and never able to function well afterwards.

A friend of mine used a gun just like the one he'd given me. He left a young wife and son behind. He had kidnapped and raped a girl for a couple of days before he took his life.

S died by a gun too. She was the same age as my mom. It was startling to realize after all these years that wekas a family history of manic depression. If we'd have been able to talk about it before, we may have Bern able to have helped.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

Ron, Thanks for getting the conversation started. It's perhaps the hardest part of all.
My list could go on and on and on. I'm sure yours could too. The most horrific and sad part for me is knowing not only how young many of the people who take their lives have been, but the knowledge of the pain left forever in their wake. And knowing they didn't have the opportunity to experience the joy of life so many of us take for granted. There are many treatments. What doesn't work for one person may work for another.

The desire to escape the horrific pain they are experiencing is understandable. We as a society have a long way to go in understanding and helping treat manic depression and other illnesses. So many illnesses and life experiences can additionally trigger depression.

We need to keep trying and keep talking.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 2 months ago

For # 5, I'll always be haunted by the memory of the very last question he ever asked anyone.

He was living in a small town quite a ways west of here, and was very unhappy there. He asked me: "Do you think I should move to Topeka?"

I told him, "No, I think you'll just bring your problems with you, and it will be just like it was before."

That was the answer that he got from me when he asked me the very last question that he ever asked anyone.

When the sun came up the next morning, he'd been dead for a while. I can think of so many other ways I should have answered that very last question that he ever asked anyone.

What did my answer really mean to him? There's only one thing that it could have meant.

There's no hope.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

It was your honest answer to a question asked. You couldn't know what the right answer would have been - no ones has the 'right' answer for someone who is depressed. And you can't always know someone is depressed if they don't tell you. You were correct he would have been taking his problems with him. He knew that without your saying it.

It's great to be possitive, but it's also great to be honest. I know you to be a kind, sensitive person. You did no harm. That is part of the destructive nature left behind, we question everything we did, said, didn't do, didn't say. Don't go there.....

At times such as this, remind yourself what things you did right, how many fun times you had together, how many times you checked on him.

RoeDapple 6 years, 2 months ago

About eight years ago a life long friend and I were discussing the suicide of his uncle a few years previously. A few weeks later my friend's son committed suicide. I won't discuss what we talked about as my friend has since passed away from cancer complications, but he told me several times the conversation we had was what kept him going after his son's death.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

It's difficult when no one will discuss your loss with you. They use the excuse that they just don't know what to say, don't want to say the wrong thing, don't want to make the person think about the loss if they don't happen to be thinking about it at the time.

While there are inappropriate things to say to someone who is grieving (I'm interested to see what the program gives as examples besides not using the word committed because it sounds criminal), but listening is always appropriate.

Being the same friend you were in the past generally works well, going on walks, bringing food or taking them out for coffee, reminding them of their passions in life and when they are ready, remembering the joy the life now gone brought to you and others.

Certainly everyone grieves differently and that should be respected.

Mourning and bereavement are very different manifestations of a loss. Culture, religious beliefs and personality all affect them.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 2 months ago

My army buddy was a short-tempered rebellious guy with an addictive personality. He was disdainful & contemptuous. Lotsa people summed him up in that kind of way, not a word of it untrue, but there was a wit & kindness there, too, that stood out.
Feb of '01, a couple days after his 44th bday, he supposedly used a cane knife to rip out his throat. Is that even possible? He would be ticked that he missed out on the turmoil of the double-naught decade. He could lean on me & others, but we were not his keepers & he was not up to the task.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

Rock, thanks for sharing your knowledge of this man and your perception of his positive traits. I was just discussing with a client this past week how important it is to notice admirable traits in people around us. I can't say I've ever met anyone I perceived to be all bad as they say. Of course traits are judged by each of us differently - with a few obvious ones tending to be liked or disliked by the majority of us within the same society at least.

The manner in which your friend died speaks volumes of his intent and how much pain he was in. How heartbreaking.

And, I don't think I've said the basics of loss to you, Roe or Ron..

I'm sorry for your losses.

Jean Robart 6 years, 2 months ago

When I was in college in the late sixties, I spent an entire overnight--several hours--on the phone with a friend. I don't remember the details of what we discussed, but it kept her from suicide that night. However, her housemother found her the next day in her bed, dead by suicide. Hard to take for a naive 18 year old. It has stuck with me for 44 years.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

Momtocharlie, I'm so sorry you have that memory. You're correct, it's a horrible experience for an 18 year old to go through. It's a horrific experience for anyone to go through at any age. It sticks with us forever.

I'm sure the housemother had visions for the rest of her life of finding a young girl. It's important to remind ourselves the person who took their life didn't do it to hurt us. They have an illness that can often be helped, if not cured, but sometimes it ends up killing them the same as other illnesses. It depends on the severity of the illness and how effective, if any, the treatment is.

Thank you for sharing your experience.

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