research has shown that the risk for suicide can be inherited. exposure to completed and attempted suicide in the family has also been found to increase suicide risk among family members. – aspf
at least 50% of those who recover from a first episode of depression will have one or more additional episodes in their lifetime, and 80% of those with a history of two episodes will have another recurrence. –ncbi
childhood trauma can alter brain structure and change how certain genes are expressed…boosting the risk of developing issues such as anxiety and depression. –psychology today
children of people who attempted suicide have a four- to five-fold increased risk of trying to take their own lives. –reuters
i am at high risk when it comes to mental health problems. depression (and likely many other mental illnesses) run in my family. my father died by suicide. i lived childhood trauma when i found him. i have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and have survived one major depressive episode.
sometimes i wonder – are the odds stacked against me?
statistics like those i listed above have the potential to unravel me. they have the potential to terrify me. because i fit the bill. those facts are written about my life. mental health issues are part of me – right down to my brain structure and genetic makeup. through no fault of my own and because of nothing i did. by simply existing i carry with me the weight of risk. i started behind the starting line and wonder if i’ll make it to the finish line. and if i allow myself, i play the numbers game. 50% likelihood of recurring depression. five-fold risk of taking my own life. look at the numbers – the odds are stacked against me.
it’s true. i have lived through an undeserved and horrific childhood trauma. it has changed who i am. it has caused me ongoing and often subconscious distress. suicide has been a part of my life for longer than it hasn’t. and i do have mental health issues – likely related to my past, my genetics and countless other unknown factors. life hasn’t been and isn’t easy for me.
but this is also true: i am not a statistic. i am not a risk. no study, no number, no diagnosis can define who i am.
i am a person. who can make choices. and i choose to look at the whole picture of my life – not just one part of it. so i put the numbers in their place. the statistics don’t have to be my doom or my fate or my destiny. in fact, i can use them as tools to help me grow stronger. by learning about the risks that are inherent in being a survivor of suicide loss, i learn how to keep myself safe. by educating myself about my diagnoses, i discover new treatments and coping skills. by sharing my story, i connect with others who provide me with support and inspiration.
so i choose to learn. i choose to talk. i choose to reach out. and when i fall down, i choose to get up and keep going.
because i am strength. i am determination. i am true grit. i am love. i am compassion. i am hope. i am a survivor, not a statistic.