Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heart Wrenching

Ervin Lupoe shot and killed his wife and five kids and then took his own in a apparent murder/suicide last week. The couple allegedly agreed to do this because they were upset about losing their jobs at Kaiser Permanente hospital. According to AOLnews it was the fifth mass death of a Southern California family by murder or suicide in a year.

Many of us in the black community think that we are “too strong” or have been through to much to kill ourselves—statistics show otherwise: suicide is the third leading cause of death among black youth, after homicides and accidents.

But you can help. How? Recognize the warning signs:
  • Talking About Dying -- any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self harm.

  • Recent Loss -- through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of religious faith, loss of interest in friends, sex, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed

  • Change in Personality -- sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic

  • Change in Behavior -- can't concentrate on school, work, routine tasks

  • Change in Sleep Patterns -- insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, nightmares

  • Change in Eating Habits -- loss of appetite and weight, or overeating

  • Diminished Sexual Interest -- impotence, menstrual abnormalities (often missed periods)

  • Fear of losing control -- going crazy, harming self or others

  • Low self esteem -- feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, "everyone would be better off without me"

  • No hope for the future -- believing things will never get better; that nothing will ever change

Other things to watch for- Suicidal impulses, statements, plans; giving away favorite things; previous suicide attempts, substance abuse, making out wills, arranging for the care of pets, extravagant spending, agitation, hyperactivity, restlessness or lethargy.
REMEMBER: The risk of suicide may be greatest as the depression lifts.

If you or a person you love is in crisis, seek help. Contact family, friends, your pastor, a counselor/mental health professional, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.