We hear stories of famous people, celebrities, people we think must have a great life and must be happy, committing suicide. Within the span of a few days, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both took their own lives. Their suicides are no more tragedies than the suicides of all the people we’ve never met, all the people who don’t make it on tv and in the newspapers, but they highlight the tragedy in a way that only the suicide of a celebrity can do. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds. (Wikipedia)
My guest, Lisa Lapidus, LICSW, PIP, is passionate about working with clients on personal growth, in both individual and group sessions. She has worked in private agencies as well as in school-based settings and wilderness programs. Having completed extensive studies in the Grief Recovery Method, she specializes in helping others work through grief and loss. Ms. Lapidus finds it most rewarding to help her clients replace self-loathing with self-love and to move from “I can’t” to “I can.” She emphasizes a family systems approach, believing we are all connected – that what happens to one individual in a family or community affects us all. Her areas of specialization & interests are: Individual and personal growth, grief and loss, fitness and well-being, child development, parenting, family of origin issues, adult children of alcoholics, codependency, relationship issues, adolescents, and ADHD.
One of the major factors contributing to the high rates of depression and suicide is isolation. Despite the ubiquity of so many forms of instant communication, many people feel more and more isolated. We spend more time connecting electronically and less time with face-to-face encounters, more time liking each other’s posts and less time hugging a friend hello.
In addition, we’ve given more and more weight to our own appearance on social media, making sure that we look perfect and that our lives look perfect, and in essence we’re putting on a mask that prevents others from truly seeing us and makes it harder to really connect with others. And underneath it all, what we really need to do is love ourselves. We need to learn to truly accept ourselves for who we are and love ourselves deeply.
Lisa addresses the nature-nurture characteristics of depression, and for many people suffering from depression it’s more important to treat the symptoms than to try to figure out exactly why it’s happening. For some there may be an organic reason for the depression and appropriate medical attention is certainly necessary, but medication alone may just numb the symptoms, whereas learning to live with depression is critical.
The inability to recognize – and properly handle — grief in our own lives is another important factor influencing depression, and Lisa discusses the Grief Recovery Method, one of her favorite tools for working with grief.
Lisa stresses the importance of speaking openly with people whom you think might be contemplating suicide, and when doing so, being specific. Don’t be afraid to come out and ask if they’re thinking of killing themself. The communication needs to be open and frank.
We end with a discussion on what to do if you suspect that a child in your life is depressed and considering suicide. During this discussion, Lisa recommends the book, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And How To Listen So Kids Will Talk, which you can find at Amazon, and she shares the useful acronym SLAP as it pertains to assessing someone’s risk.
If you would like to get in touch with Lisa Lapidus you can contact her at Empower Behavioral Health in Huntsville, Alabama. The number is 256-519-9144. Or you can email her [firstname.lastname@example.org] or go to her website [empowerbehavioralhealth.com].
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May you live purposefully, may you love yourself, and may you love life.
Bye for now!