Shneidman’s greatest questions: Where do you hurt and How can I help?

Shneidman’s greatest questions: Where do you hurt and How can I help?

After I had a meltdown in late 2005 and was slowly recovering in 2006, I was taking a psychometrics class at college to earn my psychology degree. Psychometrics is a fancy name for psychological testing and validating tests and assessments on various things. As I was recovering from a deep suicidal depression, I was curious to see if there were any measures on psychological pain in suicide. I wrote my first draft of the term paper with 20 some odd articles all doing various risk assessments and testing of suicide ideation but none of them dealt with psychological pain, which was what I was aiming for.

The professor tore my first draft apart and even, however vaguely, accused me of plagiarism. I wanted to get a good grade in this class because it would help my further advancement in psychology. I went back to the drawing board. I searched for pain and psychological pain in the library databank. About only 5 articles showed up, at the time. I am sure I was doing it wrong. I looked up the articles and found Shneidman and Holden. Dr. Holden was based out of Queen’s University in Canada. He came up with a psychache assessment that I found useful in my therapy. I kept that article and shared it with my therapist. Then I queried everything on Shneidman and hit the jackpot. His work was in psychache, psychological pain. I read everything I could on him and his followers. I saw my idol David Jobes’s early work on the Suicide Status Form. It wasn’t appealing to me at that time. I was more interested in the psychache of the matter.

I read Dr. Shneidman’s book, The Suicidal Mind. Holy crap! This was about “me”. I knew I had to read everything this guy wrote but it measured in the hundreds so I focused on what was available now. I tried to read his books that were solely written by him but they were few and outdated. He wrote many chapters. The two questions that I kept coming across were “where do you hurt” and “How can I help?” No one had ever asked me those questions all my years in therapy. Not even my current therapist at the time asked until I brought it up to her.

These questions were the basis of how he helped suicidal people over his career. He brought them other options for suicide by learning things about their predicament. Then he ranked them in order of importance. As he slowly worked with them, suicide became less of an option on the list, which was good. It didn’t mean their risk of attempting was any lower but they could see that it wasn’t something that had to do right then and there as there were other options. That is what suicide prevention is, finding other solutions to the problems someone is facing other than suicide. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There was a case in which Shneidman talked to a Hispanic male who attempted suicide by gun shot. He blew off half his face and needed multiple surgeries and was in intense pain from his injuries. Dr. Shneidman counseled this man until he was well enough to leave the hospital. They kept in touch but as time went on, the contact got fewer and fewer. The young man died by suicide by that method a few years later. It was a sad case. The importance of the story is that contact is useful even after the initial attempt has passed, be it with postcard or phone calls or text messages. This isn’t an entire protective factor but it can be. Some people who think of suicide and even go to plan it, get through their circumstances never to think about it again. Others make an attempt and it is a kind of “wake up” call and they never think about doing something like that again. Then you have the people that are chronically suicidal, who make multiple attempts. These are the people most at risk of ending their lives by their own hand. It is these people that need the most help and patience. This is where the framework CAMS (Collaborating, Assessment, and Managing Suicidality) comes in handy. Check out their website

in my brain, dial it up, everything I want to say

In my brain, dial it up, everything I want to say

I am totally addicted to “One Number Away”. It has been on repeat since yesterday afternoon. It touches me every time I hear it.

I am going through withdrawal symptoms from my pain meds because it has been 11 hours since my last dose. I have been sleeping all day so didn’t bother to take them when I woke up two hours ago. Sucks being dependent on a drug. And NO, being depended and addicted are two separate things. Being addicted means you need higher amounts of something to feel good. I don’t need a higher dose of my pain meds when I go through withdrawal. I just need to take the dose I take to get relief from the dizziness and lightheadedness that I feel. I almost fell backwards twice today. I thought it was because I am in Neurontin fog but now I think it’s because of the withdrawal. I have just taken my meds so I should be feeling better in about a half hour.

My mother is making dinner right now. Sausages and potatoes. I have a funny relationship with sausages. I like them but sometimes the taste makes me not like them. It’s weird. I’ll probably eat more potatoes than sausages anyway.

I made coffee but couldn’t drink it. It was making me more sleepy so I decided not to drink it all. I had wanted to change my sheets today but I’m not feeling up to it. I bought these clips to hold them in place. I just hope they work and don’t rip the sheets or slip off. I got them cheap on Amazon, just $8. A catalog that my mother gets had them for $14, but it was just 2 clips. I got 3 clips. I hope it keeps my sheet from coming undone after a few days. I hate having to fix it.

I got my suicide prevention shirt from the American Association of Suicidology. I hate not being a member anymore but the fees are too much for my budget, even as a fixed budget fee. I have Twitter to keep me updated on things as people are now posting on social media the slides and stuff at conferences. It makes you feel like you are there.

I’m starting to feel better now that I took my pain meds and ate a little bit. The sweet potatoes weren’t cooked but the zucchini she made was. It was a good dinner. I love zucchini with bread crumbs. She baked it in the oven so it was crispy. Very yummy! I hope I am able to stay awake for a little bit now that the withdrawal symptoms have passed. I try not to let it happen but I have no control over my sleeping pattern. I had woken up in the early morning and didn’t go back to sleep until 0700 then woke up at 1400. It was a good sleep. I hope that I will be able to sleep tonight. I think I will because I am still tired. I’ll change my sheets tomorrow. I really don’t feel like doing that task today. I need to clear my bed off and then take the sheets off. That is the easy part. Finding a place to put my “office” is always difficult. It’s not so bad as mostly it’s just clothes more than books and notebooks like last time. I’ll do it but I need energy and I just don’t have it today.

stuck in my depressiveness


I am stuck in my depressiveness. I cannot seem to find joy. I am listening to the ball game which usually cheers me up but not today. My team is losing but I could care less. I just took a shower because I needed to. It has been days since my last one. I just can’t get ahead of it.

One of my friends on FB just posted that I should “hang in there”. I hate when people say that, especially when you think about hanging yourself. I don’t know why I feel so low. My thinking is in reverse gear so I am not thinking as fast as I normally do. I hate when this happens. I find it hard to do anything.

Another friend of mine wanted advice on how to help someone who is feeling suicidal. She is a bubbly person, always positive despite her own difficulties. I told her to listen to him. To hear his story as difficult as it might be. That is all that someone wants is to be heard, to have a sympathetic, empathetic ear.

I posted, again, on my Facebook status that I feel depressed. Again I got the usual bullshit answers. What do you say to someone that is feeling depressed? Certainly not keep your chin up! Or things like it could be worse! I once had my sister tell me at least I don’t have cancer. WTF…really? You have to go there? No at least with cancer there is an end. Depression has no end unless you end it.

Today, Sept 8th starts the beginning of suicide prevention week. I remember I tried to organize something for the psychology department the first week of school but it was difficult as I was the only one and in the end it proved to be too difficult and challenging. So this week, I have changed my profile picture on twitter and Facebook to the Suicide ribbon. I got it from the AAS (American Association of Suicidology) website.

I still feel pretty down and feel like I should write about it. I know this is my second blog of the day. But I wanted people to know that when someone says they are depressed, don’t tell them to cheer up and say that it could be worse. This does not help the person at all. Tell them you are sorry they feel that way and offer to help them through their day. They might need someone to let off steam to about whatever their problem might be, even if you think it is insignificant, it means the world to that person.

I think I am bummed out because I can’t use my new laptop and have to use my old one. I am anxious because I never know when the blue screen of death will occur or when the screen decides to get all funky just by adjusting it. I can’t watch movies on this laptop because I don’t have software on it to play it, though I supposed I could use windows media player if I had to. I just don’t want the laptop to overheat and it gets hot after an hour’s use. Longer than that and I will start having problems. Oh the joy of technology. And the thing that really bothers me about the new laptop, which I had already reformatted, it will not load the updates that are important. I have tried several times and it just won’t load. I think I need a new hard drive. But this is an old model and I don’t think it will solve anything. I don’t think I can get a bigger hard drive anyways.

I hate feeling down all the time. Usually something will help me and I will get out of it. But today, that doesn’t seem to be the case. And you know something? I don’t care. If I am depressed so be it. It’s not the end of the world. I have been depressed most of my life and why should this day be any different. I just expressed myself on my status and someone questioned it. Don’t like it, unfriend me! Nothing is keeping you from being my friend if you don’t like my language. I really don’t care. I am tired of trying to please everyone all the damn time.