Suicide: Know when to ask for help

Pussy.  Wimp.  Lightweight.


All things you think people will call you when you ask for help.

They went to the same call you did, they're fine.  They're not.

They went through a divorce just like you did and they're fine.  They're not.

I failed and they didn't because they're better than me.  They're not.


"They" are going through the exact same mental roller coaster you are.  I've been there to a certain extent.  When I got hurt I went through every emotion I've ever known from thrilling excitement getting back on the Engine to crushing depression that I was one call away from being killed in a fire.  I've been confused, conflicted, felt like screaming.  Screamed (it helps) and even cried like a baby.

Dealing with depression can be hard, is hard, will be hard.  Regardless of what people want to tell you, things aren't always going to be better.  One day you'll look back on today and be willing to swap feelings for anything.  The trick is going to be what you do about it today.


No one controls you but you.  The feelings you feel, the things you think, the situations you run out over and over and over in your head until they get so loud it feels like they're going to come bursting out of your forehead will only get worse unless you let them out.  Only you have the power to release them.

Start a journal, write your feelings on a single piece of paper.  Get out all the negativity, anger, hate and everything else Yoda warns us about the dark side and look at it.  It's outside your head and nothing is wrong with that.  Now destroy it.  Destroy all the hurt.  It feels good.  Then take a deep breath and feel the emptiness the hate has left.


What will you do with it?

This is the part no one tells you about PTSD, that you can address and overcome your fears rather easily, but even scarier is what might take their place.  If your thoughts were that dark before, what will happen now?  Now there is room for worse!

And for better.

Some fill that void with faith, companionship, adventure, music or art.

Others fill the void with solitude, smoke and the bottle.


What you do with the space you make is up to you, but I can tell you from experience that looking for a new challenge every day will lead you to places your old self never imagined.

Some departments offer Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) but others do not.  It is important to have an understanding of what to expect from your healing process.

I did a brief series on CISD using the band OKGO:

Part I   Part II  Part III  Part IV  Part V

The hardest part is knowing when to ask for help and realizing that anyone and everyone that tells you some bullshit line about having to have thick skin in this business is falling apart inside just like you and may actually want YOU to help THEM, but they're afraid to ask.

They're afraid you'll call them a pussy or wimp or lightweight, laugh at their sorrow because they can't take it while you're fine.

Asking for help early can break the cycle of depression not only for you, but for your coworkers, friends and family.


I don't understand suicide and I never will.  It's a coward's move and no one can convince me otherwise.  Besides, why not ask for help and avoid the whole mess to begin with?

There are a number of ways to find help, one of which is by following the Code Green Campaign on Facebook.  Click the green star and follow, talk, heal.


anon said…
Great blog post but you REALLY need to make the punctuations and thought moments clearer layout-wise esp at end. I certainly pray you are not sitting here saying "I don't agree with suicide and it is a **coward's move**" when you just spent 5 paragraphs saying how you understand depression. Because all the empathy you expressed just went down the hill in that paragraph nastily. If so, shame and beyond
anon said…
oh and I have spent years off and on struggling as many with those moments and holding on.... just cowards. Be happy you had that wife and kids when you fought through PTSD and OCD
Jim said…
This. Exactly my reaction.
anon said…
Justin _ Know you mean well and have struggled but PLEASE disassociate as a blogger and don't tag Code Green.
Bastet said…
Bastet with Code Green here. We are OK with Justin tagging us. We know his words as his own and he isn't trying to represent the campaign. We appreciate his efforts to get our name out there.
Justin said…
It is important to make the distinction between depression and suicide. One does not EVER have to lead to the other. I understand depression, I understand confusion, but I will never understand suicide. My hope is that by sharing my experience others will see that suicide is not the end of the depression cycle. Break the cycle. If suicide is not held up as a possible "solution" we will continue to lose good people to a bad decision. Instead let's encourage them to reach out early and it will be far less of a concern. Thanks for reading.
Justin said…
Don't tag Code Green? Don't get the word out that suicide is not an option? If folks are struggling they need to reach out. Staying quiet is what is leading folks to think suicide is even an option.
Andrew said…
And whatever you do, don't EVER, EVER call your department's Employee Assistance Program (EAP). They claim it';s confidential, but someone eventually is going to get a bill for the doctor's time... and your name will be attached to the documentation. After that, you might as well quit, cause you're never going to get anywhere after that - "we can't promote him, he went to the shrink, what if he wigs out?"

Find a friend, or a minister, or someone, but don't ever trust your bosses or the government.
mpatk said…

It is proper and necessary for everyone out there to know that suicide is not the inevitable end of the depression cycle.

HOWEVER, calling it a "coward's move" is more likely to DRIVE someone to suicide than deter them from it. If a person already feels worthless enough to take their own life, that crack about "cowardice" just feeds into the desperation and self-loathing they're feeling. You might as well call them "pussies" or "wimps" or any of the other insults you rightly condemn earlier.

People who are considering suicide are hurting and desperate and looking at an incredibly bad decision. Suicidal people are no more cowards than people that need help to cope with depression; suicidal people are just making the wrong decision in how to handle their depression.
Justin said…
Indeed it is the wrong decision and we need to convince them of that. Suicide is not an option, or an out, or a way to solve things. It will only make things worse than they are. It is a coward's decision. I will always believe that. Calling someone names when they are depressed is bad, trying to defend suicide as an option is not. Anyone who considers it has not thought through their actions and needs to realize that they are not alone! Most everyone else feels exactly like they do! Why end their lives over something so stupid? So long as we continue to equate depression with suicide depressed people will consider it. I say break the chain. If you're depressed, hurting or feeling alone, reach out. That is my message.
Justin said…
Wow, Andrew, thanks for the HORRIBLE advice. Are you telling me I got promoted despite my mental health counseling? ABSOLUTELY reach out to your employer's EAP. Priests will only make you feel guilty, but if that helps, go for it. Hell, goto the pet store and talk to the puppies if it helps, but don't spread a conspiracy about EAPs and employers. If you only knew how many of your co-workers have sought assistance and are too scared to admit it...
Caitlin said…
Just because you don't understand something doesn't give you the right to call people cowards. As someone struggling with suicidal thoughts, you're words are triggering for me. It makes me want to go through with it even more so. Suicide hurts many people but saying it's a cowardly act shows just how little you know about the pain that those people are going through. You may have had depression but severe depression is a completely different animal. Please choose your words carefully if your goal is to be uplifting and prevent suicide.
Justin said…
I hope you are seeking help locally, even if it just means commenting on my little web log. My opinions are indeed from a different place entirely than where you are. I can't imagine how you are feeling, nor will I try to. My comments are trying to help folks who consider suicide a solution that they are indeed going to negatively impact the world around them by making that choice. I can't tell you what to believe or do, but know, KNOW, that suicide is not a solution to a problem. As someone who has witnessed suicides, been present soon after, and long after, the perceived problems remain but are simply shifted to someone else. Of the 4 suicides I have witnessed, each one has had a negative impact on me, something the victim obviously never considered. My opinions are my own and are intended to open a dialogue regarding depression and suicide in our ranks. If nothing else I hope that you taking the time to comment here means you're also taking other steps to comment elsewhere and work through what you're going through.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment. If you wish to vent, talk, etc, shoot me an email thehappymedic @ gmail . com.