I’m a Mental Health Professional. I’m someone who enjoys going to work most days because I love what I do for a living.
The truth is, I believe I was born to help people. I’m fascinated by learning what makes a person unique and helping them to understand themselves. I am honored to be a part of their process of understanding how to live a life of joy and purpose. I believe it’s in my DNA to seek understanding and to be an intermediary. And due to the nature of personality and my job, I take great care in keeping practices that preserve my mind/body health and most importantly, my hope in humanity. But the recently publicized news of both Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s suicide has rocked the foundation of my hope. In fact, I consider myself someone who chooses to prevent or resolve conflict before starting it. But recently I found myself angry, frustrated. And frankly, disappointed. Why do we continue to fail people in the field of mental health? Why are people actively seeking and receiving pharmacological treatment and counseling, still suffering? Why are people still choosing to hurt themselves or hurt others?
Our brains are wired to problem solve; it’s a survival instinct. So, when someone initiates an action that goes against our primitive wiring system, it’s not only indescribably tragic, but also extremely confusing. A recent report stated suicide rates are up 30% overall since 1999 and the highest increase is among the middle-aged, like Kate Spade. I remember hearing stories about aging when I was little. The wisdom and peace earned from years of experience and practice. What happened? Were those just feel-good fables?
The truth is, we can spend the rest of our lives going down what I call the “Rabbit Hole of Why,” trying to figure out answers to questions that remains unresolved. I’ve worked with many people who’ve lost someone to either suicide or to violence. The insurmountable pain and swirling confusion they experience in the aftermath is unfathomable. Questions such as, “What did I miss? What could I have done differently? Why would someone do this?” These questions create such anxiety and turmoil, it can feel like madness. But even if the person who took these actions was here to answer these questions, I’m not certain they could even provide the answers. After all, if they were unable to find the answers to provide them peace when they walked this earth, how could we expect them to provide the answers if they came back.
I strongly believe we need to start thinking outside-the-box. Our theories and treatment approaches have not been enough. The billions made and spent on psychiatric medications are more evidence, that this is not enough. Positive psychology and research in the area of the science of happiness are headed in the right direction. We need to continue to explore more holistic, innovative approaches to prevent and treat people’s mental health. We need to empower people by making them accountable for their self-care practices. We need to be more open to learning and implementing different methods and resources beginning at the ground level, in our schools and in our homes.
Enough is enough. We need to take action, be accountable; all of us. Before another life is lost and people are left to wonder why…