Urban Legend: Suicide Is More Frequent During the Holidays

Originally posted December 7, 2017.

You are Not Alone. You Are Not to Blame.


With Help, You Will Feel Better


Dr. Susan Giurleo deserves a shout-out for inspiring this holiday season topic.


If you suffer from untreated depression, it may feel like the holiday season is forced levity. You may think and feel like everyone else (except you) is surrounded by a group of friends and family. You may feel lonely and isolated. Your intense loneliness can feel crushing and all-consuming. You might doubt your value as a human being, as a person. As someone who suffers from depression, you know you fight a valiant fight, battle after battle, for self esteem and self-worth.


Maybe most of the time you win the battle, and then, sometimes, maybe there is a convergence of several stressful events: maybe a chronic pain flares up, maybe the lay-offs at work are grinding everyone down, maybe you lost someone important to you. You can easily fill in these blanks.


You get fatigued, your learned coping and self-parenting skills aren’t accessible, and your self-created persona seems to crumble around you with a deluge of the familiar feelings of shame, worthlessness and hopelessness.


You fall into that old beastly way of thinking, black and white thinking. You know that all or nothing feeling, everything is either/or, this or that, frick or frack, male or female, sad or happy, yes or no. No shades of gray exist when you’re swamped by your feelings of depression.


You think, “I’m no good, nothing is ever really be right for me ever, no one will ever like me. I will never feel well again.”


This black-and-white thinking is actually a symptom of depression. Also, it’s a symptom of anxiety as well as other mental illnesses. Black-and-white thinking evolved so that we focus, assess and think quickly in survival situations. When you’re feeling very depressed, your body is stressed, and thinks you’re in survival mode.


So, maybe that old urban legend about suicide slithers into your brain. Yeah, you know what I mean. You say, I have a right to feel depressed. Hey…everyone feels depressed around the holidays, in fact more people commit suicide during the holidays!


This is not true. In fact, research indicates that people feel more supported during the holidays as they can attend gatherings of family and friends. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be sad, but don’t catch a fever that doesn’t exist.


If you are feeling sad and alone, there are lots of things you can do.


Be kind to you, practice exquisite self-care.


Allow yourself the luxury of some sad feelings, it’s normal to be sad sometimes.


It’s normal that after some time, our moods change, and we feel better after a while.


Don’t judge yourself. Let the feelings come and let them go, let them change.


Don’t be ashamed of having sad feelings, just accept that all people are sad sometimes.


Call a friend.


Call your family.


Journal.


Find an online chat room for some help.


Read a book.


Take a walk.


Go to the gym.


Go to the yoga studio.


Go to a movie


Paint, collage, draw with media or with your computer.


Get professional help. It is a form of strength and self-care.


If you are truly alone on the holidays, volunteer at a shelter or a nursing home, you will be with people and you will be using your life in a positive way.


It’s okay to feel your feelings. It’s ok to feel bad sometimes. It is normal. If it goes on relentlessly for over two weeks, get help. Talk to a friend, call a counselor, use the health insurance for which you already pay.


If you are feeling very bad, if you are thinking of harming yourself, and you need immediate help. access a crisis line. Here are some phone numbers and websites to use in a crisis.


Drive to a nearby police station, or a nearby emergency room, where you can get emergency care. If you cannot help yourself, call 911, and emergency services will come to you.

You are Not Alone. You Are Not to Blame.


With Help, You Will Feel Better


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Befrienders Worldwide

Suicide Crisis Line


1-800-273-TALK (8255)