How To Be A Resource For A Friend In Need

How To Be A Resource For A Friend In Need

34,000 people every year commit suicide. We can do something to help.
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Recently, I lost a close friend and co-worker to suicide. Coping for the first time with this incident, I kept thinking of ways and strategies to help my friend, to prevent what happened. In my mind, I was imaging talking to him and convincing him that there are more options for him, there were different ways to handle whatever he was feeling. Then, I realized there was no use in doing any of that. What happened is over now, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Taking in this information, that there was nothing left I could do anymore and that did not sit well with me. I could not shake the feeling of "I wish I prevented it," "I could have done something," and "this didn't have to happen." So I decided the only way I could fully get over what happened, move on and have a peace of mind, was to actually prevent it from happening again. I sat down and researched, dedicated as much time as I could, to find useful and effective strategies and resources to prevent and provide awareness to suicide.

To spot a friend in need:

I was shocked when I found out. I had in no way seen it coming. When I picture my friend, I pictured him always smiling, being happy, and fully enjoying his life. I did not see the pain and suffering he silently had to go through alone.

Annmarie Dadoly wrote in her blog, "Suicide is forever, but the stress leading up to it is often temporary": "Many suicides (estimates range from 30% to 80%) are impulsive, with just minutes or an hour elapsing between the time a person decides upon suicide and when he or she commits the act." So, how can you tell someone is having suicidal thoughts, when they probably haven't even had them yet?

Dadoly's colleague, Patrick J. Skerrett, listed different warning signs that aren't easily found in his blog, "Suicide often not preceded by warnings". These include:

  • an episode of depression, psychosis, or anxiety
  • a significant loss, such as the death of a partner or the loss of a job
  • a personal crisis or life stress, especially one that increases a sense of isolation or leads to a loss of self-esteem, such as a breakup or divorce
  • loss of social support, for example, because of a move or when a close friend relocates
  • an illness or medication that triggers a change in mood
  • exposure to the suicidal behaviors of others, such as friends, peers, or celebrities.

People struggling with suicidal thoughts and depression rarely seek help, which is a common warning sign of someone on the verge of committing suicide. ULifeline, an electronic resource for college students to have access to the information they need to information on their mental health, gives a list of signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped or like there’s no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
  • Prior suicide attempts

How to convince your friend to get help:

David Susman PhD., keeps an online blog about mental health and wellness. In one blog post in particular, called "8 Reasons Why People Don’t Get Treatment for Mental Illness", he wrote about his analytical finding from the World Health Organization that stated, "Between 30 and 80 percent of people with mental health concerns never receive treatment." David says people don't receive treatment for various reasons, such as fear of the shame, lack of reasonable insight, complete hopelessness and other reasons.

To really get a friend help, the best you can do is convince them they are worth being helped. Specifically, people diagnosed with depression and anxiety, they have low self-esteems and consistent feelings of hopelessness, as if the world would be better off without them. They don't want help because they feel like they're not worth being helped.

Resources for help:

From online resources to programs, the amount of treatments and people out there willing to help is limitless. Some online programs are:

1. Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers 24/7 free and confidential support.

2. Lifeline Crisis Chat

This is also provided by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, except this is online chatting instead of having an over the phone conversation.

3. You Can NOT Be Replaced

This program is run by a high school, which accepts donations to host events for other high schoolers. The website offers newsletters that can be sent to your email, where you can receive constant updates on stories of hope and survivors recovering.

To find support groups near you, you can search for them through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

I am still sad, for lack of better terms, for my friend. I will continue to miss him, and his memories will never be forgotten. My hope for writing this is that no one will feel the way I do, or way my friend once did.

Cover Image Credit: Parade

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100 Ways To Practice Self-Care In Your Everyday Life, In 20 Minutes Or Less

Simple ways to start taking care of yourself.

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Life is overwhelming and distracting so it's easy to forget about yourself sometimes, but practicing small self-care acts is easy. Making time for yourself every day isn't selfish and is really good for your mental health. I think it's important for everyone to spend time doing things that make them happy and more calm, even if you only dedicate 20 minutes each day. Putting yourself first can lead to growth so many other aspects of your life.

Obviously, each person is allowed to practice self-care in their own unique way, but here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Do something new. 

2. Make a list of things you need to get done that week. 

3. Drink some hot tea. 

4. Go for a walk on a scenic trail.

5. Paint your nails.

6. Have a good laugh.

7. Buy yourself flowers.

8. Light a candle.

9. Do some tidying up.

10. Don't feel bad for saying 'no.'

11. Listen to music.

12. Slow down.

13. Drink a smoothie.

14. Run mindless errands.

15. Write down your goals for the week.

16. Talk to someone about the future.

17. Wake up early and get coffee. 

18. Take care of a plant. 

19. Take a bubble bath. 

20. Give yourself a compliment.

21. Give a stranger a compliment.

22. Watch a movie.

23. Put your phone down.

24. Declutter your personal space.

25. Go to bed early. 

26. Pray or meditate. 

27. Go for a drive. 

28. Make it a habit to stargaze. 

29. Read a book. 

30. Read poems. 

31. Sing loudly. 

32. Make a list of things you're grateful for. 

33. Drink a lot of water. 

34. Put on make-up for no reason.

35. Watch funny videos. 

36. Take a deep breath. 

37. Distance yourself from negativity. 

38. Unfollow people you don't care to follow on social media. 

39. Have a pajama day. 

40. Read an inspirational book. 

41. Call your parents/ loved ones. 

42. Donate old clothing. 

43. Dedicate a day out of the week to not eating meat. 

44. Do a fun craft or DIY project. 

45. Put on a face mask and relax. 

46. Do a small workout. 

47. Take a power nap. 

48. Listen to a podcast. 

49. Open a window. 

50. Open your curtains in the morning to let in natural light. 

51. Make your bed. 

52. Cook dinner instead of eating out. 

53. Play/ cuddle with an animal. 

54. At the end of the day, think of all the positive things that happened.

55. Moisturize. 

56. Buy a comforting blanket. 

57. Give someone a hug. 

58. Create a vision board. 

59. Have some alone time.

60. Enjoy the sun on your skin. 

61. Dance like nobody is watching.

62. Walk in the rain every once in a while. 

63. Drive with the windows down. 

64. Give someone a gift for no reason. 

65. Get a massage. 

66. Do something that gets your adrenaline running. 

67. Spend the day at the library or a book store. 

68. Organize your work space/ binders. 

69. Spend a weekend in. 

70. Recognize hard work and reward yourself. 

71. Sign up for a work out class. 

72. Eat lunch with a friend. 

73. Spend the day helping others. 

74. Get your hair done. 

75. Have a good cry. 

76. Use sticky notes. 

77. Color code your planner. 

78. Print out pictures and hang them up. 

79. Hang motivational quotes on your mirror and read them when you get ready. 

80. Do random acts of kindness. 

81. Buy fuzzy socks. 

82. Redecorate or rearrange furniture. 

83. Be present. 

84. Set a new years resolution. 

85. Make a bucket list. 

86. Stretch in the morning. 

87. Watch an interesting documentary. 

88. Make a music playlist.

89. Watch the sunrise or sunset. 

90. Explore somewhere new.

91. Be slow to respond to negativity. 

92. Have a game night with friends. 

93. Buy concert tickets. 

94. Have a nightly routine before bed. 

95. Eat your favorite dessert. 

96. Do something you've been putting off. 

97. Invest in essential oils. 

98. Manage your finances. 

99. Buy a new outfit. 

100. Make your own gratitude list. 

Try at least one of these every week and see how you feel! I guarantee you will notice a difference in the way you are living your life.

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Meditation: The Good, The Bad, and The Benefits

Is meditation effective? Is it for me? Should I try it? If you want answers to these questions, they are right below.

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The definition of meditation is different for anyone that you ask, but overall, it is used to clear the brain of any negative thoughts and calm the body down. Many people do it before bed to improve sleep or when they wake up to start their day with a positive attitude. Many religions and cultures incorporate meditation in its practices because of the many healing properties it has.

However, even after being proved as beneficial many times, many people still see no point in meditation and many people believe there is no reason to do meditation in a private setting. However, the many benefits of meditation outweigh the negatives and I am here to hopefully persuade you into incorporating this into your daily schedule.

First, meditation reduces stress and controls anxiety. Stress reduction is the reason a lot of people start meditation. mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. A type of meditation, called mindful meditation, can reduce the inflammation, which was proved by an 8-week study by ScienceDirect.com.

Research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

It also reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks, proven from that same 8 week study. It also helps control job-related anxiety in high-pressure work environments. One study found that a meditation program reduced anxiety in a group of nurses.

Secondly, meditation promotes emotional health. Some forms of mediation can lead to an improved sense of self and a more positive outlook on life. One study shows that symptoms of depression had decreased in adults when they incorporated meditation into their daily schedule by John Hopkins University researchers.

The inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines that we talked about before can affect mood, which lead to depression. Like we said earlier, these cytokines were reduced due to mediation. As I said before, meditation aims to get rid of negative thoughts in the brain in that period that you are doing it, but when you aren't it helps you recognize those thoughts and get rid of them in a healthy way. Meditation is important in practice, but it helps a lot in your day to day life.

Many people believe that meditation is pointless and there is no tangible evidence that supports the physiological benefits of meditation, however, I know it has changed my life and has made me a lot more of an optimist and I hope that this helped you into trying out meditation and hopefully incorporate it into your life.

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