How we treat our mentally ill: It’s astonishing

How we treat our mentally ill: It’s astonishing

Cruel, disgusting, irresponsible: they all fit. But our guest writer prefers astonishing when it comes to how we treat our mentally ill. She’s been there, folks, and brings a powerful message.

Too many of the psych doctors I have experienced treat you like a number. Patient #567 with severe bipolar disorder…

Received an email from Ashley a week or so ago. Said she has a mental health blog in the works and wanted to know if I’d accept a guest post.

She sent me three, I chose one, and here we are. By the way, I love how she goes with “our mentally ill.”

Let’s get on it. The floor’s yours, Ashley…

Treatment of our mentally ill

What I have personally endured as a mental patient is nothing compared to what I have read of others. It is astonishing that the world we live in can still be so dark and cold – so misguided and tortured.

I can grasp that it is hard to understand the thoughts of one diagnosed with a mental illness. Why do we say what we say? Why do we react the way we do? Why is every case so different and unique?

I’m sure many of us who suffer with mental illness have asked these very questions ourselves. And for the most part, we don’t know.

All we know is the desperate need to feel better, to find a morsel of normalcy in a life scattered amongst the wind.

The mentally ill are mistreated and being misguided

Across America, the mentally ill are mistreated and being misguided.

Timothy Williams of the New York Times provides an example…

Mentally ill inmates in prisons and jails across the United States are subjected to routine physical abuse by guards, including being doused with chemical sprays, shocked with electronic stun guns and strapped for hours to chairs or beds.

How is this behavior acceptable? They don’t know how to handle the situation, so they resort to neglect and abuse.

My personal experience

I remember the countless doctors surrounding me, being the object of everyone’s attention. Yet, my voice went unheard.

They would murmur amongst themselves as to what they felt was “wrong” with me and what medication or therapy they were going to attempt next.

I felt like I was at a zoo – laid out, vulnerable, and unwanted – for all to see.

”Really, the only thing left for you is ECT.”

hope for mental illness

“If you slow down, open your mind and heart, and listen, you might just get to know me.”

A million times I told them what medications I already tried, but they insisted that I try them again. To no avail, of course.

And then this: “Really the only thing left for you is ECT.” That’s electroconvulsive therapy, in pretty terms.

The fog

I guess I agreed to it, but honestly the “therapy” wiped all memory of that. As well as god only knows what else.

All I know is the next few weeks, which are lost forever, were a total fog. Months went by and I still struggled to recall even the simplest of things.

I do remember a flash – getting rolled into a room, given medicine to fall asleep, then waking up scared in a room full of others in beds, all trying to remember why we were there.

Is ECT really a solution?

I personally think ECT is awful. There isn’t any proven evidence of why it sometimes works for patients. I think frying your brain until you can’t remember why you’re there isn’t the answer.

I find it appalling doctors are still doing this. It’s like they have given up and their last resort is to shock you until you feel better. Does that really sound like a solution?

I just don’t want anyone to lose who they truly are – what makes them human – in desperate attempts to find hope.

Overlooked and ignored

Too many of the psych doctors I have experienced treat you like a number. Patient #567 with severe bipolar disorder. depression, PTSD, blah, blah, blah.

I once read my medical chart when the doctor left the room. And it wasn’t pretty. Scary, in fact, to read. I wasn’t that person.

But to them nothing I said was real, which made it all the scarier for me. I was constantly overlooked and ignored like so many others.

There’s always hope for mental illness

There is always hope, the general public need to be educated more on mental illness. That would include our struggles and dangers, along with our triumphs and hard work, so we can be better not only for ourselves, but society.

Nothing will grow in darkness

Spread the word, and let’s get more help, better help, for our mentally ill. Let the world know your own personal experiences with mental health care.

Nothing will improve, nothing will grow in darkness.

We must push through to the light, carrying on for those who no longer can. We are people, and we deserve just as much respect and dignity as anyone else.

Knowledge is power. Speak up, stop the stigma.

That’s a wrap

No doubt, Ashley, astonishing is the right word. And thank you for writing such a powerful piece for us. My money says it’ll hit home for many Chipur readers.

What could I possibly add?

Well, okay, there is one thing. Be sure to review the Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration titles. Bound to be something that’ll help.

A quick “that time of the year” message…

A quick “that time of the year” message…

Truth, according to 19th century French writer and journalist, Jean-Baptiste Alfonse Karr: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” That would be “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I can’t even begin to express how much the world, and its inhabitants, have changed since I was a kid.

It’s “that time of the year” again. Dare I say holiday season?

This one’s my 68th, and I’ve been delivering “that time of the year” messages on Chipur for 13 years.

And it’s always dicey business. I know all too well it can be a difficult six weeks for those of us wrestling with a mood or anxiety disorder.

Yet, it can be a time of sweet reflection and joy.

Either way, recognizing the holiday season is important.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

I can’t even begin to express how much the world, and its inhabitants, have changed since I was a kid. Really, since the internet began to explode some 30 years ago.

As a collective, we’ve become well-informed, sophisticated, and savvy. Unfortunately, full of ourselves and downright mean often tag along.

But you know what? In spite of monumental changes, things have stayed the same in many ways. At least the things that matter – love, kindness, concern for others, giving of self, and more.

But seeing the sameness is difficult if we’re unwilling to acknowledge and remove going along with the times facades.

However, if – when – we do it, we begin to know who we are and who we can be.

Let’s be true

Hey, handle the next six weeks in a manner that’s right for you. If that means ignoring the hubbub, so be it.

But let’s be true to ourselves, to those with whom we’re close, and those who need us. And if we have a rough go emotionally or mentally, we can’t throw in the towel. I mean, hope is everlasting.

Happy “that time of the year”…


Assisted dying – psychiatric euthanasia: You okay with it? Part 2

Assisted dying – psychiatric euthanasia: You okay with it? Part 2

Crushing symptoms day after day for years. Is it any wonder some of us want a permanent out? Assisted dying for patients with psychiatric disorders – psychiatric euthanasia. You okay with it?

’A few days ago, a 30-year-old patient with very treatable mental illness asked me to end her life. Her distraught parents came to the appointment with her…’

Buckle up, we’re going to discuss a gut-wrenching and controversial topic that will continue to attract major attention.

Some of you may find it troubling, even triggering. If you’re one of them, please feel free to close the piece.

We laid a solid informational foundation in part one of our two-part series on assisted dying for patients with psychiatric disorders – psychiatric euthanasia. If you haven’t already, be sure to give it a read.

By the way, I shared the inspiration for writing about the contentious subject in that piece – the heartbreaking Shanti De Corte story.

Well, part two – ethics and opinions. Let’s get after it…

Assisted dying: Ethics and opinions

assisted dying

“…to do good or to do no harm.”  Hippocrates c. 400 BC

First, a quick heads-up. The terminology associated with assisted dying can be confusing – euthanasia, medical aid in dying, legal suicide, physician-assisted dying, physician-assisted suicide, and more.

Don’t lose the forest for the trees over semantics.

Okay, let’s take a look at how several healthcare professional organizations feel about assisted suicide…

American Medical Association

The AMA has a Code of Medical Ethics Opinion for physicians who oppose assisted suicide and for those who are neutral or support it.

Opinion 5.7 states that allowing physicians to engage in assisted suicide would ultimately cause more harm than good. Among other negative consequences, it’s incompatible with a physician’s role as a healer.

Opinion 1.1.7 declarers physicians need to have the opportunity to act (or not) in accordance with the dictates of their beliefs and conscience.

British Medical Association

In September of 2021, the BMA changed their policy from opposition to assisted dying to a position of neutrality.

American Psychological Association

The APA takes a position of neither endorsing or opposing assisted dying.

Assisted dying for patients with psychiatric disorders: A psychiatrist’s opinion

Dr. Mark S. Komrad is a practicing and teaching psychiatrist, as well as a medical ethicist. His commentary, “Oh, Canada! Your New Law Will Provide, Not Prevent, Suicide for Some Psychiatric Patients,” appeared on Psychiatric Times in June of 2021.

Dr. Komrad put a lot of thought and feeling – and, yes, opinion – into his piece. I’d like to run with some highlights.

Context is crucial. Dr. Komrad’s comments were motivated by the development and passage of a Canadian law, and its expansion, that permit what they refer to as medical aid in dying (MAID). We reviewed it in part one.

The door’s wide open

As he begins, Komrad untangles some of that terminology confusion we just talked about. He defines euthanasia as allowing suicidal patients to receive death by lethal injection. It’s assisted suicide when the lethal medication is self-administered.

Komrad points out that Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg legalized both in 2002. As he puts it, laws in those countries permit voluntary death for patients whose physical or psychological suffering is unbearable and can’t be effectively treated by means that are acceptable to them.

A terminal condition is not a necessary criterion.

Komrad believes these developments opened the door for some patients with psychiatric illness having suicide provided for them, rather than prevented.

He observes that these laws are now being passed around the world, which could profoundly change the practice of psychiatry.

The Canadian spark

Now to what lit Dr. Komrad’s fuse. Canada is the latest nation to legalize voluntary death for psychiatric conditions.

In 2016, Canada passed a law permitting medical euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, together labeled medical aid in dying (MAID).

A key eligibility criterion was a prediction that a patient’s natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.” Since death from mental disorders wasn’t seen as strongly predictable, mental illnesses were not considered eligible conditions.

Superior Court intervenes

In 2019, a Quebec Superior Court ruling led to the introduction of a new federal bill extending euthanasia eligibility, without limiting it to the end of life. It also removed the prior exclusion of those who have non-terminal chronic illnesses.

And because of accusations of discrimination against those with mental illnesses, the Canadian Psychiatric Association being one of the accusers, euthanasia was permitted for those whose psychological or physical suffering is deemed “intolerable and untreatable.”

A vote was forced and on March 17, 2021 the expansion of euthanasia became the law of the land in Canada.

It’s interesting that the mental illness piece was put on a two-year hold. The idea was to give an expert panel time to establish standards for evaluating patients and procedures.

Without a protocol, there would be no way to determine if suicide for someone with a psychiatric disorder should be prevented or allowed.

A psychiatrist’s bottom-line

Komrad provides this statement by Canadian psychiatrist, Dr. John Maher…

A few days ago, a 30-year-old patient with very treatable mental illness asked me to end her life. Her distraught parents came to the appointment with her because they were afraid that I might support her request and that they would be helpless to do anything about it. It’s horrific they have to worry that by going to a psychiatrist, their daughter might be killed by that very psychiatrist.

What are your feelings?

Objections to physician-assisted dying

psychiatric euthanasia

Pentobarbital is typically the choice for physician-assisted dying. It’s usually secobarbital capsules for self-administered.

According to Dr. Komrad, countries that have allowed physician-assisted dying have quickly found themselves descending a slippery slope.

He quotes attorney Wesley J. Smith, a prominent critic of such policies…

Once a society embraces doctor prescribed death as an acceptable answer to human suffering or as some kind of fundamental liberty right, there are no brakes.

Indeed, Komrad points out that in Belgium and the Netherlands, policy makers and legislators are debating extending euthanasia beyond medical conditions to include those who feel they have a completed life and are tired of living.

There’s even discussion of demedicalizing euthanasia by providing lethal pills over-the-counter.

And then there’s Pegasos Swiss Association, which will take an application for voluntary assisted death (VAD) at their clinic in Basel. You have to be a “Pegasos Supporter” to apply.

Primary objections

Using the Canadian law as reference, Dr. Komrad shared his primary objections to physician-assisted dying…

  • There’s no requirement that additional, evidenced-based treatments be implemented, although patients are urged to give all treatments serious consideration.
  • Physicians are allowed to end the life of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses at their request and will require the system to ensure it happens – even when physicians are convinced, based on their expert knowledge, that medicine offers options and even when the patient may have years or decades to live.
  • Assisted dying laws would represent a terrible shift in the deep ethos of psychiatry. Psychiatrists would have to decide which suicides should be prevented and which should be abetted.

Do you think his objections are legit?

Assisted dying – psychiatric euthanasia: You okay with it?

If I’m going to ask, “You okay with it?” regarding assisted dying – psychiatric euthanasia, It’s only fair that I respond first.

As a former clinician and 50-year mood and anxiety disorder warrior, I’m not okay with it – as a matter of law for the masses.

My concern is the potentially lethal impact of a tired and hopeless mind, a lack of resources and alternatives, cognitive distortions, impulsivity – and rubber-stamped approvals.

What if I did it?

I know what it’s like to endure life-interrupting symptoms day after dreaded day. And I have no doubt my circumstances would qualify for assisted dying wherever it’s legal.

Thing is though, what if I did it? And don’t think checking out hasn’t crossed my mind a time or two over the decades.

What’s my family supposed to do with it? What about my readers? How do I account for it with my maker?

But you know what? Maybe most important of all is my belief there’s a living purpose for my suffering. And I sure can’t fulfill it if I’m dead.

So now it’s your turn. You okay with it?

If you or someone you care about are in immediate danger call 988 in the U.S. And here’s a list of international suicide hotlines.

Again, if you haven’t already, give part one a look-see. You’ll find lots of interesting details.

And dig into Dr. Komrad’s commentary. There’s a ton of information I couldn’t include, as well as an accompanying video: “Oh, Canada! Your New Law Will Provide, Not Prevent, Suicide for Some Psychiatric Patients

Be sure to scan the hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety info and inspiration titles.

Assisted dying – psychiatric euthanasia: You okay with it? Part 2

Assisted dying – psychiatric euthanasia: You okay with it?

Have you ever wanted to die when your symptoms were at their worst? I have. So how do you feel about assisted dying for patients with psychiatric disorders – psychiatric euthanasia? You okay with it?

Shanti made a decision and requested to be euthanized because of ‘unbearable psychiatric suffering.’

This won’t be the first, or last, time I open by saying we don’t back away from controversy here on Chipur.

And it doesn’t get more controversial than discussing assisted dying for patients with psychiatric disorders – psychiatric euthanasia.

In fact, some may find the topic troubling, even triggering. If you’re one of them, please feel free to close the piece.

We have tons to cover, and to ensure we get to it all we’ll roll with two parts.

Information will lay the foundation in this piece. And we’ll come back with an ethics and opinions chat in part two.

Let’s get busy…

The Shanti De Corte story

It was March 22, 2016. Waiting for a flight to Italy with classmates, 17-year-old Shanti De Corte was strolling through Brussels Airport.

medical assistance in dying

It was more than she could absorb.

Suddenly, all hell broke loose as a terrorist-placed bomb exploded.

Mortally wounded

Shanti came through physically unscathed; however, what she saw, heard, and felt left her mortally wounded – emotionally and mentally.

It was more than she could absorb.

She was already troubled by depression and anxiety. But after the cataclysm, episodes of dark depression and non-stop panic attacks dominated her life.

Shanti was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she was administered a variety of antidepressants. She claimed up to 11 a day.

Her decision to die

There was no response to the meds and she went on to attempt suicide in 2018 and 2020.

Shanti made a decision and requested to be euthanized because of “unbearable psychiatric suffering.”

After two of three physicians approved her request, surrounded by family, Shanti De Corte died in Brussels, Belgium on May 7, 2022 at the age of 23.

Her final social media post…

I was laughing and crying. Until the last day. I loved and was allowed to feel what true love is. Now I will go away in peace. Know that I miss you already.

Hits hard, doesn’t it.

The dissenting opinion

Though Shanti’s earthly life was over, legalities weren’t.

A neurologist at the CHU Brugmann academic clinical hospital was the physician who denied Shanti’s request.

After she died, he made it known that he believed the decision “was made prematurely,” as other care proposals had been made.

In response to his objection, Antwerp prosecutors opened an investigation. But it was closed in fairly short order.

Assisted dying protocol

A quick note before we continue. The terminology associated with assisted dying is varied and can be confusing – euthanasia, medical assistance in dying, legal suicide, physician-assisted suicide, and more.

To simplify matters, I go with “assisted dying”: voluntary active euthanasia and physician-assisted dying when a patient’s life is ended at their request.

Okay, in discussing protocol we’re not going to get into by-country or state lists of where assisted dying is legal. The information is easily found.

We’ll stick with what procedure protocol looks like, referencing Shanti’s home country, Belgium, and Canada.

(Alright, sort of a list: assisted dying is legal in some form in 10 U.S states and the District of Columbia, as well as seven countries.)

The Belgian protocol

psychiatric euthanasia

Within the context of our discussion, what do you feel when you look at the image?

Belgium has by far the most permissive assisted dying laws. Adults, minors, psychiatric patients – all can make a request.

A physician is required to consult with the patient for a period of time to establish that they’re aware of the decision and process.

No diagnosis is required for adults. However, a terminal diagnosis from a physician with agreement from a guardian or legal representative is mandated for minors.

In some cases, if death isn’t imminent, a pathologist or psychiatrist may be asked to assess a patient’s condition.

If a physician is responding to a patient’s medical directive (e.g., a living will), the patient must be permanently unconscious and suffering from an incurable condition.

Finally, the life-ending drug can be self-administered orally or by infusion or injection by a physician.

The two most common drugs used are the barbiturates, secobarbital (Seconal), which comes in a capsule, and pentobarbital (Nembutal), a liquid.

By the way, it’s free.

Medical assistance in dying: Canada

Canada passed a law in 2016 that permitted what they called medical assistance in dying (MAID).

The primary criterion of the law was a patient’s natural death is predicted to be “reasonably foreseeable.” Psychiatric illnesses were excluded.

Some four years later, in excess of 19,000 individuals had been voluntarily euthanized.

A new law

As a result of a Superior Court ruling, a new federal bill was introduced that extended assistance in dying by removing the prior exclusion of those who have non-terminal chronic illnesses.

It also permitted euthanasia for those whose psychological or physical suffering is deemed “intolerable and untreatable.”

On March 17, 2021, the euthanasia expansion became the law of the land.

The criteria: 18 years of age, mentally competent, a grievous and irredeemable medical condition,” assessed by two independent practitioners, if a psychiatric illness is the only medical condition the patient must wait until March 17, 2023.

On to part two

I have to ask. How are you feeling about all this? My mind has been somewhat unsettled and troubled since I began working on the piece. Hmm.

Well, we’ve laid a solid foundation. Now it’s on to our ethics and opinions chat in part two.

Don’t miss it.

If you or someone you care about are in immediate danger call 988 in the U.S. And here’s a list of international suicide hotlines.

Many more Chipur mood and anxiety disorder info and inspiration articles await. And all you have to do is scan the titles.

Dr. Benjamin Rush: America’s first psychiatrist

Dr. Benjamin Rush: America’s first psychiatrist

History: a prodigious collection of icons, knowledge, and lessons. And there are thousands of gems to mine. Perhaps you’ll be enlightened and inspired when you get to know Dr. Benjamin Rush, America’s first psychiatrist.

‘Happily, these times of cruelty to this class of our fellow creatures and insensibilities to their sufferings are now passing away.’

Why bother talking about history?

Well, it’s often immensely interesting, as well as educational. And it plays a huge role in defining who we are and why we do what we do.

And would you agree that history is one of the best predictors of current and future behavior?

Okay, point made. Let’s get acquainted with Dr. Rush…

Who was Dr. Benjamin Rush?

Born just outside of Philadelphia on Christmas Eve 1745, Benjamin Rush was a renaissance man.

Physician, politician, humanitarian, social reformer, educator, great husband and father – signer of the Declaration of Independence – what more can one say? Dr. Rush was the total package.

“The Founding Father Who Healed a Wounded Nation”

I’d always thought Rush was an interesting man. So when I saw Dr. Benjamin Rush: The Founding Father Who Healed a Wounded Nation by Harlow Giles Unger on a shelf at Barnes & Noble, I had to have it.

The book is the info source for this piece.

Dr. Rush’s personal intro to psych

It was the practice of Philadelphia authorities to send the severely “insane,” those who “raised the devil,” to prisons, almshouses, or the Pennsylvania Hospital

Those who weren’t aggressive or behaving as though they were under the spell of Satan were left to roam the streets.

After visiting a Philadelphia jail in the early-1790s, Rush was infuriated over the brutally cruel conditions and demanded reforms.

Rush takes over

Pennsylvania Hospital, founded in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin, was the first hospital to designate specific space for the treatment of those with psychiatric disorders.

But when Rush became connected with the hospital, he found the area nothing more than a filthy basement prison.

Among other atrocities, patients were often chained by their waists to iron rings embedded in the floors or walls of cold and damp cells.

The story goes that Rush went ballistic over the conditions, and the hospital directors wisely turned the care of the “maniacal” patients over to him.

Immediately, Rush introduced humane policies and practices. Included were bathing patients regularly, maintaining spotless linens, discharging aides who wouldn’t deliver quality care and kindness, and recreational activity.

Dr. Rush was a compassionate no-nonsense difference-maker.

Dr. Benjamin Rush: Theories and treatments

who was benjamin rush

Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind, 1812

Spending endless hours observing and caring for his patients, Dr. Rush came up with a multitude of theories and treatments for the emotional and mental disorders.

For instance, here’s how he described “a new theory of mania” to a colleague in London…

I suppose it in nearly all cases to be accompanied by inflammation of the brain. This, the water, blood, pus, and hardness found in the brain after death all demonstrate.

In consequence of the adoption of this theory, I have lately cured three deplorable cases of madness by copious bleeding (100 ounces in one case). It was aided afterwards by cold baths.

The science of the day

Yes, Rush, along with his medical peers, was huge on bleeding for just about every illness he encountered. And to go along with it were purging (laxatives and emetics), herbal remedies, and painkillers – opium, rum, and whiskey.

But we have to consider the times – medical science was in its infancy. I mean, luxuries such as the stethoscope and thermometer were years down the road.

Rush, like any physician, was only as good as the science of the day.

Cause and treatment

When it came to cause, Rush declared that “madness” often resulted from “the reciprocal influence of the body and mind upon each other.”

He continued…

They are part of the unity of disease, particularly of fever, of which madness is a chronic form affecting that part of the brain that is the seat of the mind.

The cause of madness is seated primarily in the blood vessels of the brain, and it depends upon the same kind of morbid and irregular actions that constitutes other arterial diseases.

Regarding treatment, Rush went well beyond bleeding and purging.

He introduced an early form of talk therapy, as well as occupational therapy. Both were revolutionary, as well as effective.

Bottom-line: Dr. Rush became the first American physician to treat emotional and mental disorders as diseases, not willful criminal behavior or the work of the devil or evil spirits.

We’re fortunate that Rush transcribed his notes into lectures that fill the fifth and final volume of his hugely influential “Medical Inquiries and Observations” series, Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind.

Dr. Benjamin Rush: Icon

In 1965, the American Psychiatric Association declared Dr. Rush the “Father of American Psychiatry.”

Maybe these words to his students had something to do with it…

For many centuries, they have been treated like criminals, or shunned like beasts of prey. Happily, these times of cruelty to this class of our fellow creatures and insensibilities to their sufferings are now passing away.

The clanking of chains and the noise of the whip are no longer heard. They now taste the blessings of air and light and motion in pleasant shaded walks in summer and in spacious entries warmed by stoves in winter.

In consequence of these advantages, they have recovered their long forgotten relationships to their friends and the public.

Dr. Benjamin Rush: an icon. History: to enlighten and inspire.

Featured image: Smithsonian: National Portrait Gallery

Book image: Harvard Square Library

Please dig in to hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety disorder info and inspiration titles. All sorts of help awaits.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: July 16

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: July 16

When we’re experiencing an emotional or mental crisis, we need to be able to access the help we deserve quickly and easily. And the crisis counselor and resources have to be spot-on. 988 is a go on July 16.

First and foremost, it’s time to make a 988 call if you’re to any degree thinking about suicide or concerned about someone else.

I’ve provided contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline numerous times. In fact, here it is again…

800.273.TALK (8255) and for live chat and information:

Perhaps you’ve used it or provided the contact information to someone in need.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is introducing a new – quicker, easier, more effecient – way to connect calls and texts to the Lifeline.

988 will be ready for use on July 16, 2022.

The old Lifeline number and website with chat option will continue to be available, as will 24/7 access and excellent translation services.

Just like before, when you use 988 a trained crisis counselor will offer emotional and mental support and connect you with indicated resources.

And keep in mind, the Lifeline is comprised of more than 200 crisis centers. That means there’s an emphasis on locally available help.

When should you call 988?

i don't want to kill myself

July 16, 2022

First and foremost, it’s time to make a 988 call if you’re to any degree thinking about suicide or concerned about someone else.

Beyond that absolute necessity, there are no specific requirements for calling.

Reasons to call

It isn’t all inclusive, but here’s a list of reasons people call the Lifeline…

  • Active thoughts or plans of suicide
  • Suicidal ideation – having thoughts you’d like to die
  • Self-harm or wanting to hurt yourself
  • Struggles with substance use
  • Financial stress
  • Relationship problems
  • Dealing with abuse or domestic violence
  • LGBTQIA+ support
  • Emotional/mental and physical health struggles
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Concern about a friend, family member, client, or others

Got it?

988 FAQs

Let’s take a look at some answers to a handful of FAQs. I’ll line you up with a link at the end so you can go through the full list…

  • You’re not required to share any personal details to use the Lifeline. But even if you do the call is confidential. That changes, however, under certain circumstances. For instance, if you’re in immediate danger of harming yourself or others, staff may request a wellness check by public safety officials.
  • The 988 and 911 systems will be closely coordinated. However, 911 only becomes involved when there’s imminent risk to someone’s life that can’t be reduced during a call.
  • The Lifeline works. Numerous studies have shown that most Lifeline callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to a Lifeline crisis counselor.
  • The Lifeline currently serves TTY users through their preferred relay service or by dialing 711 then 1.800.273.TALK (8255). Services are also available through chat and text. Lifeline is in the process of expanding to video phone service to better serve deaf or hard of hearing individuals.
  • The Lifeline will be available in all 50 states and 5 territories. Of course, the caller has to have access to cellular or internet service.

Perhaps that gives you a bit more insight into the workings of 988 and the Lifeline.

The help we deserve

We’re human, so emotional and mental crises happen. We can handle some of them on our own; however, others exceed our ability to cope.

988 makes accessing the help we deserve quicker and easier. We’ll look forward to July 16.

Much more 988 information from SAMHSA. And those FAQs.

Here are some suicide-related Chipur articles you may find interesting and helpful…

Suicide Prevention: Guidance for family and friends

Saving People from Suicide: An occasional letter?

“I’m so tired of it all.”

And if you’re still in the mood for some reading, there are hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety disorder info and inspiration articles waiting for you.