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MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! I am thinking about killing myself

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December 01, 2022 | NATIONAL Didymus McHugh, Correspondent

How do you think that you would respond to that radio transmission? It is not that easy.

How would you feel if you were saying, "I am so frustrated. I am screaming out for help and nobody hears me. They ask how I am doing and when I tell them that I need help or feel depressed, they just tell me to get some help. GREAT ADVICE, what do you think I was doing? The other great advice is to 'snap out of it'. Why should I keep going, if nobody notices that I am alive? Nobody really knows what I am going through."

There are times that people may make it obvious that they are hurting, and there are times where we may have to actually be observant.

Do we really pay attention to others in our life? Do we know when someone is not behaving as normal? Are we willing to ask them what is happening in their lives? Do we make time in our lives to sit and help others? Or are you so wrapped up in your own life that nobody else matters?

I have seen many people who say that real men do not discuss it, or real men do not cry. I tell you, only a real man can cry and is willing to get the help they need. Guess what, many people may be feeling the same way, but will be too stubborn to get the help they need and then they will wonder why it may develop into depression or PTSD.

Please understand that 20% of people have a mental health issue, and that police officers and firefighters have a fivefold chance of developing PTSD or depression compared to the civilian population, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. We also experience or see more trauma that the general population and everything may feel like they pile up on us, if we do not ask for assistance as we experience it.

There are times when you may be overwhelmed by circumstances that you are going through. You may be in distress, but I will tell you that the situation is only temporary. It may not feel that way and it may feel like the end of the world, but please reach out for help. You are worth it. Do not listen to people who do not give you proper advice. Find people that are willing to assist you. Find people willing to sit with you to listen and encourage. Your life may seem like this situation, but the situation is only temporary. You are strong to seek out assistance. It is alright to cry. Sometimes that is the only way that people know that things are overwhelming for you.

Some of the things that may contribute to wanting to take our life may be untreated or undiagnosed depression. Depression, anxiety, and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide, according the American Association of Suicidology, but most people who manage their mental health conditions can go on with their lives. When we have heart problems or cancer, we seek assistance, so why not when we may need assistance handling life issues or things that make us feel overwhelmed.

The risk factors and behaviors, according to the American Association of Suicidology are:

Risk factors

Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.


-Mental health conditions
-Substance use problems
-Bipolar disorder
-Personality traits of aggression, mood changes and poor relationships
-Conduct disorder
-Anxiety disorders
-Serious physical health conditions including pain
-Traumatic brain injury


-Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
-Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
-Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
-Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide


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

Protective Factors

-Access to mental health care, and being proactive about mental health
-Feeling connected to family and community support
-Problem-solving and coping skills
-Limited access to lethal means
-Cultural and religious beliefs that encourage connecting and help-seeking, discourage suicidal behavior, or create a strong sense of purpose or self-esteem

Warning signs

Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.


If a person talks about:

-Killing themselves
-Feeling hopeless
-Having no reason to live
-Being a burden to others
-Feeling trapped
-Unbearable pain


Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

-Increased use of alcohol or drugs
-Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
-Withdrawing from activities
-Isolating from family and friends
-Sleeping too much or too little
-Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
-Giving away prized possessions


People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

-Loss of interest
-Relief/Sudden Improvement

I would suggest going to the website for Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance and check out the resources page. There is a self assessment for suicide screening. If you need to reach out for help the National Crisis & Suicide Lifeline is now 988.

Please take care of one another and more important yourself.

Stay safe,

Didymus McHugh

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Didymus McHughCorrespondent

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