July 21, 2022
By Courtney Wise
Good morning, MindSite News readers. In today’s edition, we look at some of the most common myths about suicide. We explore the anguish of Asian American actor Constance Wu over a Twitter shaming three years ago and the suicidal thoughts that followed. And we share a tip about reaching out to old friends.
We start, however, with two MindSite News original stories. The first is about a vet-to-vet organization that helps former service members on every step of their journey – with jobs, therapy, peer support and housing. The second is poet and author Louise Nayer’s compelling review of The Last Confessions of Sylvia P., a fictional mystery about the poet Sylvia Plath. Good reading ahead…
MINDSITE NEWS ORIGINALS
Combating veteran suicides with peers, therapy, housing – and a little horse sense
Since 1974, Swords to Plowshares has helped veterans find jobs, benefits and a place to live. Our story follows a formerly homeless vet on his journey through PTSD, grief and trauma to co-housing, fellowship and a place of his own.
Reading Between the Lines: A Literary Mystery about Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was lauded for her genius as a poet, but danger was lurking. This work examines her profound legacy. Writer and psychotherapist Lee Kravetz interweaves three voices and storylines into a suspenseful, captivating novel.
NEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB
Busting myths about suicide
Suicide is a leading cause of death around the world, claiming some 800,000 lives a year, according to the Global Burden of Disease study. It’s also often misunderstood. An article in the Philadelphia Tribune took a look at some of the myths surrounding suicide. They include:
• People who die by suicide are selfish, hungry for attention, or even perpetually depressed. But that is a myth that contributes to stigma and can keep people from getting help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
• Only people with diagnosed mental health conditions experience suicidal thoughts. Not so, says clinical psychologist Michael Roeske. “A lot of people don’t necessarily fit criteria for a mental health disorder,” he said. “But in very stressful situations – they lose an important job, they find out about an infidelity with a long-term marital partner – they might go, ‘Oh, my gosh. I don’t know how I’m going to go forward living.’” Other sudden traumas, including eviction, illness, overwhelming ridicule and legal problems, can also trigger suicidal thinking.
Other myths include the notion that talking about suicide will encourage people to attempt it, and that a depressed person whose mood improves is less likely to attempt suicide.
But perhaps the most important message is this: If you suspect someone you know is suicidal, you are not powerless to help them. “Suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts,” according to NAMI. “Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent. An individual with suicidal thoughts and attempts can live a long, successful life.”
Actress Constance Wu: Asian Americans need to talk more about mental health
After three years away from the spotlight, actress Constance Wu, star of the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, is opening up about her mental health in a forthcoming book. Back in 2019, Wu experienced a Twitter snafu when she wrote in response to the show being renewed for a sixth season: “So upset right now that I’m literally crying. Ugh. F***” and “F***ing hell.” People branded her an ungrateful diva, even after she explained the tweet was related to frustration about a missed new work opportunity. Now she has revealed that the backlash against her led to a mental health crisis and suicide attempt. “I was afraid of coming back on social media because I almost lost my life from it,” she wrote in a Twitter post. “[Asian Americans] don’t talk about mental health enough. There’s a lot of avoidance around the more uncomfortable issues within our community.”
Wu said her feelings were prompted by messages from an actress who said her misstep made her a blight on the Asian American community. That’s no minor accusation, Jenn Fang, the founder and editor of Reappropriate, an Asian American-centered race and gender blog, told NPR. “Being a public figure, especially on social media, criticism happens,” Fang said. “But for Asian Americans, this thread of criticism is particularly personal and difficult to bear because it suggests we don’t belong and we should leave the Asian American community.”
In other news …
Mental stress can show up in your body—do you know the signs? Inverse recently published this article to help people recognize the physical signs of anxiety.
Hesitating to connect with an old friend for fear that too much time has passed? Here’s your sign to call. The Guardian reported on a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that finds that people appreciate being reached out to, regardless of the time that’s passed, and researchers are interested in learning how to prompt people to reach out more.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.
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