Not a normal stress response

Cathy Brownfield

Someone who is always curious about the next happening down the road and, no matter what comes along, is persistent about putting one foot in front of the other, may find it difficult to understand why someone else might not see things from that perspective, that someone they know, love or care about might be in a very dark place with no hope. I’ve heard some people ask, “How do people hold on if they don’t have God?”


Or maybe the person you think has never had a bad day in his or her life has been down the road you are traveling now, a dark, forbidding kind of place. That black, bottomless pit is a very formidable adversary, one that is difficult to conquer. Maybe you are at this place right now. (These thoughts are enough for me to want to go out and mom-hug a bunch of people, to give them reasons to keep going, to hold on, to hang in there because it isn’t the moment that sums up a life, but the race itself that each of us runs, so full of wonder and magic and adventure, of hope, that is important. My grandmother used to say there isn’t a road that doesn’t have a bend in it. Better days are coming.)

When I was a child my mother had all kinds of mom-isms to teach my brothers and me. One of them was, “If you look around a bit, you will always find someone worse off than you are.” She was a gem, more precious than rubies.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides information and statistics about the issue of suicide, past and present. The future is up to us, all of us, in the things we say and do, how we treat each other, support and encourage each other. The warning signs of suicide are listed there. Words, the things a person says, like talking about wanting to die, that they feel very guilty or great shame about something, or maybe they don’t want to be a burden on others. Maybe they feel empty, hopeless, trapped, or can’t see any reason to keep on living. They can be extremely sad, more anxious, agitated or full of rage. They may be experiencing unbearable emotional or physical pain.

Behavior changes also are red flags that there is trouble: making a plan or looking for ways to die; withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away their most precious possessions because they don’t need them anymore. They may take dangerous risks, suffer extreme mood swings, eat or sleep more – or less, or be using alcohol or drugs more often.


September is Suicide Prevention Month. National Suicide Prevention Week begins tomorrow. What can you do from your little corner of the world? There are five recommended steps for helping someone in emotional pain:

1.) ASK: Are you thinking of killing yourself?

2.) KEEP THEM SAFE: Reduce access to lethal items or places.

3.) BE THERE: Listen carefully and acknowledge their feelings.

4.) HELP THEM CONNECT: Call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline number (988).

5.) STAY CONNECTED: Follow up and stay in touch after the crisis.

Suicide is a major public concern. In 2020, reports the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in this country. “It is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored.”

If you are struggling, reach out to hands reaching to you, those who can help you get your bearings again. Everyone needs help some time.

The Suicide and Crisis Hotline is available 24/7 by calling or texting 988. The crisis text line is found by texting HELLO to 741741. It also is free. Both provide confidential support for anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The Veterans Crisis Line for service members, their family members and friends can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, Press 1 or start a confidential online chat at Veterans Crisis Chat. If you are in an emergency situation, call 911.

Family Recovery Center offers mental health services as well as addiction services. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, Visit the website at FRC is funded in part by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.