When Suicide Came To My Family

There are some topics that I feel like I just can’t sit down and put a pen to the words because they are still too raw. Yet, even in my rawness, this is a topic that I cannot stay quiet about.

We hear about it in the local news, online, in the Church, and recently through my child’s high school. I knew it existed, yet most of the time it felt far away.

Until it wasn’t.

It was May 29th, 2019 when my sister called me to tell me that the police had just knocked on her door to tell her that her firstborn child Codii, had committed suicide.

I will never forget the depth of her cry.

I was in shock. We had been worried about this, but to get THE phone call saying that our worst nightmare had happened, was surreal.

In the days and weeks that followed, we continued to hear story after story of how much people loved Codii.

Many of the stories shocked our family because we had no idea how far and wide the impact was that Codii had made in 32 years on earth. What an influence and inspiration Codii had been in many people’s lives.

I only wish that Codii knew that. One moment of despair that would have passed, resulted in one decision that was irreversible.

It was a permanent decision for a temporary issue.

We have gone through and will continue to go through all of the emotions as a family. Shock, denial, guilt, anger, tears, laughter, all while realizing that it didn’t have to be this way. Our family is still processing the depth and finality of this decision.

When suicide invades your family or community it is devastating.

I am not an expert on suicide or mental health. I am just an aunt who is grieving the loss of a precious life. My desire to share is driven by a hope that by opening up a conversation about mental health and suicide, we can reduce the stigma around asking for help.

Awareness and communication is our greatest strength. As the body of Christ, we get to have the hard conversations, and we get to love people right where they are. You may be the encouragement someone needs to get professional help. Their story doesn’t have to end by suicide.

This is the last week of Suicide Prevention month.

Reclaimers, let’s learn about this. Let’s talk about this. Let’s help make mental health as normal as getting a physical so that ourselves as well as others can Reclaim our hope, and our future.

Below is information that has helped me as I ask questions and want to understand as much as I can. I found it to be very helpful. All of the information below is from crisistextline.org

If you or someone you love has been affected by suicide, you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours a day at 800-273-TALK (8255) OR

Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

How to Deal with Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death. It’s also preventable. In U.S. alone, we have the ability to save nearly 45,000 lives every year. Globally, that number is closer to 800,000.

But, hold up. Before we get to save the world, let’s check-in. If you’re feeling like ending your life, you can always ask for help managing your emotions.

Asking for help is brave.

You are brave.

You are valuable.

You are important.

And, the world needs you.

How to Get Help If You’re Thinking About Ending Your Life

First thing’s first: you matter. You are important. You bring light into this world. It’s OK to ask for help. You are brave to ask for help. And, we’re here for you. (crisistextline.org)

Here are a few ways to get through the next second, minute, hour, and even a whole day.

  • Text us. We’re excellent listeners if we do say so ourselves. And, we’re here for you—always. Text HELLO to 741741 to connect with a real human. No judgment—just straightup listening. 
  • Tell a friend. No matter how alone you feel, know that there are so many people in this world who not only want you in this world. And, they want to help you (Hi—have you met us? We’re included in this group! See above). Confiding in someone can help you build a support system for times when you are feeling in a really dark place. Nervous about reaching out? Start with a text message like this: “Hey there. I’m feeling really alone right now. Would you mind keeping me company?”
  • Distract yourself. Find even one thing that brings you joy. And, hold onto it. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite song (listening to music is one of the most common coping tools for our texters), or maybe it’s looking into the eyes of your adorable pup. Whatever it may be, find one thing to turn to when you feel in the darkest of places. 
  • Talk to a pro. If you are thinking about ending your life, chances are you are dealing with really painful emotions. Nobody deserves to feel that way and we are so sorry you do. Reach out to a therapist who can help you work through and process your emotions in a healthy way. 
  • Go someplace safe. If you feel like you are a danger to yourself, it’s always okay (brave, even!) to call 911 or go to an ER.   

Suicide Warning Signs

Sometimes, thoughts of suicide are the result of underlying mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. And like any illness, mental illnesses have symptoms—warning signs that someone is feeling like ending their life. Make no mistake, though, not everyone who has a mental illness is suicidal. And, not everyone who contemplates suicide has a mental illness. 

When someone is contemplating suicide, they may show changes in the way they act, think, or behave.  

Suicidal Behavior: What People Contemplating Suicide Might Say Someone with suicidal thoughts may talk about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others 
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain (physical or emotional)

Suicidal Behavior: What People Contemplating Suicide Might Do Someone actively contemplating suicide might act impulsively or recklessly. It might look like:

  • Drinking more alcohol and using drugs
  • Looking for ways to end their lives, including searching online for possible methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating themselves from family, friends, and loved ones
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Saying goodbye to others
  • Giving away valued possessions
  • Becoming aggressive

Suicidal Behavior: How People Contemplating Suicide Might Feel Someone thinking about ending their life might struggle with many overwhelming emotions. These include feeling:

  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Uninterested 
  • Irritable
  • Humiliated
  • Agitated
  • Enraged
  • Tired

Crisis Text Line is dedicated to ending suicide. We can help if you or someone you know is thinking about ending their life. Text a Crisis Counselor at 741741, or use the mobile text button below to text from your phone.  We’re here to support you.

Suicide Risk Factors

The world around us impacts how everyone thinks and behaves. As much as sometimes we all want to make a safe bubble that is simply not possible. So, both external factors (like relationship challenges, work stress, or trauma) and internal factors (like trouble regulating and processing emotions) can increase the risk of suicide. 

1. THE INTERNAL STUFF~ Some of the health factors that can leave a person at a higher suicide risk include mental and physical health conditions such as: 

  • Depression
  • Addiction 
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety 
  • Chronic pain or other serious health condition
  • Traumatic brain injury

2. THE EXTERNAL STUFF~ Several circumstances in a person’s world can increase their likelihood of a suicide attempt. These include:

  • Access to lethal means like guns or pills
  • Prolonged stress
  • Stressful life events or major life changes
  • Someone else’s suicide, a loved one or even a celebrity or character

3. THE STUFF FROM YOUR PAST~ Personal connections to suicide or trauma can greatly increase someone’s risk of suicide. Three key risk factors experts and mental health professionals look for are:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • Childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma 

How You Can Prevent Suicide

So, suicide is preventable. But, how? With your help. 

We all have our hard stuff. If you have a friend who is contemplating suicide, it’s undeniably hard—for them and for you. Sometimes, preventing suicide comes down to having tough conversations with the people who matter to you. As Mother Monster, Lady Gaga, said in her 2019 Grammy’s acceptance speech, “If you see someone who is hurting, don’t look away.” So, let’s face this challenge head on—together. 

Here are some tips for starting a conversation:

  • Listen. Beyoncé said it first in Dreamgirls: listen. And, she was totally right. The most important thing you can do is let the person know that you are available to listen and hear about what is going on in their brain without judgment. 
  • Ask how you can help. Give the power back to the person that’s struggling. Ask how you can be helpful, whether it’s sitting with them when they’re lonely or helping them choose a doctor. 
  • Avoid giving advice. Nora McInerny (host of the podcast about all the hard stuff, “No Happy Endings”) says: “Don’t should yourself.” And, we’ll add: “Don’t should others.” Trying to rush through fixing the situation can make it seem like you’re not available to listen. 
  • Keep it casual. This is a friend you care about, not a formal interview. Grab a cup of coffee, invite them over for the best Netflix binge, or host a study date and mention that you’re concerned. Totally cool. Totally casual. 
  • Let them open up at their pace. If they’re not ready to talk, let them know that you’re here to listen whenever they’re ready. 
  • Encourage them to reach out for help. We are here for everyone. Encourage them to text 741741 if they need help. PRO TIP: You could even help them save the number in their phone for whenever they are in a hot moment. That way, even when you are not there, we can help them get to cool and calm.
  • If you believe the person is an immediate danger, call 911

There is help for everyone. There is help for you. We are all in this big, brave world together.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24 hours a day at 800-273-TALK (8255) OR Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

Survivors of Suicide: http://empactsos.org/ 

Read More Articles From Reclaimed Story Here.

4 thoughts on “When Suicide Came To My Family

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of Codii in this world and how it has hurt you and your family. Thank you for sharing the raw emotions and sharing awareness. I pray it helps to bring hope for others.

  2. Deb Lewis says:

    Sis, I was unable to read this blog post until today…. still so raw… yet, I wanted to take the time to thank you so very much for writing this… Awareness is everything… I have gone through so many ‘what ifs’ these last few months…. and the pain is something that I can’t even describe… so, thank you honey for sharing our story in an effort to help others.

    • Denisha Workizer says:

      Sissers, thank you for allowing me to share our story with other, that takes courage. I agree that awareness is everything. Even the awareness of the ripple effect that this causes in the lives of people you love. If only Codii could have seen the outpouring of love that followed this tragedy. Love you!

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