Threats of Suicide Can Never Be Ignored

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You’d think it would have happened sooner.  Seven years of advocacy and peer support for women with postpartum depression, and I hadn’t had to do it yet.

This was the day.

I am reluctant to get too involved in people’s lives.  I want to support everyone, but I also don’t want to butt in where I don’t belong.  I don’t know everything that goes on behind the front door.  I don’t even know where the front door is located most of the time, so how can I know the best way to support each individual other than to provide as much information and hope as I can? This time I had to push past that reluctance, as did others.  We called 911 to prevent a suicide.

When you see someone publicly threaten to kill themselves, there’s no way to no how serious the threat is.  Are they joking, or just blowing off steam? Are they about to do it? Right now?

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Is Maternal Suicide Overlooked As A Leading Cause of Maternal Mortality?

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pregnancy depressionA new study finds that death by suicide and homicide are more common than “traditional” causes of maternal mortality in the U.S., such as infection or hemorrhage.  So why is it that those traditional causes of maternal death are so much more likely to be discussed and reported?

By analyzing records from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University found a total of 94 pregnancy-associated suicides — meaning women who killed themselves either during pregnancy or in the first year after birth – between 2003 and 2007.  This would work out to a rate of 2 suicides per every 100,000 births.  We don’t know whether any of these women were diagnosed with antenatal or postpartum depression, but we can guess it’s likely they were not, given the overall lack of awareness and screening for these illnesses.

The researchers also say there may be more maternal suicides of which we are unaware, because, as Science Daily reports, those numbers could be underreported, “… because the pregnancy or postpartum status was marked ‘unknown’ in the majority of female deaths in the CDC database.”

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From Suicide to Joy: A Tale of Postpartum Depression, 3 Mothers & 3 Birthdays

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Yael SaarTomorrow is postpartum depression advocate Yael Saar’s 40th birthday.  She wants to talk to you about a very important topic: postpartum depression and suicide.

I failed where my mother succeeded.

Make that “failed” and “succeeded”.

My mother had postpartum depression since I was born.  It got worse after the birth of my brother.  She was 29 when she took her own life.  I was six.

But this is no sob story.  After my mother killed herself, she went up to heaven and searched for the best stepmother ever.  My second mother, Mati, came to my life when I was seven.  I have always believe that my first mother, Mina, sent Mati over to take care of the family she left behind.

When I was 33, I almost followed in my birth mother’s footsteps.  I swallowed a whole lot of pills and woke up in the hospital.  Yes, in the psychiatric ward.  I believe that my birth mom had something to do with the fact that those pills didn’t end my life.

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On The Women Who Don’t Survive

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Warrior Moms. Survivors. Surviving. Fighting Back.

I use those words for a reason. I created the Warrior Mom logo because I was so sick and tired of the few portrayals of women with postpartum depression, or any other perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, as "less than". Like we are women with something missing. Women who can't keep it together. Women who just aren't as strong as the rest of the group.

That pissed me off.

So I decided, with Postpartum Progress, to take a different approach. I wanted people to see women with postpartum depression as people who have had an illness and who have recovered. The illness isn't who we are. It's not even a large part of who we are, though it is powerful enough to seemingly take over everything for a while.

I also wanted to find a different way of looking at what I went through for my own benefit, because it helped me. I could look back on my experience with postpartum OCD as a black hole or I could look at it as a period of growth and strength. It allowed me to reframe what happened, or at least how I viewed what happened. The Warrior Mom helped me as much or more as it has helped any other person who has ever read this blog.

However.

I read a piece today from Chemo Babe, where she writes beautifully about cancer and the people who have made it through and the people who haven't. She wants to make it clear that the people who haven't survived cancer have no less character than the people who have. Her words made me stop and think.

When I talk about Warrior Moms, I want to make sure you know that I do so because I want you to feel empowered, instead of small. I want you to feel you can fight back, instead of surrendering. I don't want you to feel defective, or lacking in character or mothering skills or anything else for that matter. Because I know how easy it is to feel those ways, having been there myself.

I don't, however, mean to imply that the women who didn't make it were lacking in some way. It crushes me when I read about a new mother's suicide or infanticide, or when I read about a woman who has lost her family because of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I often wonder what the details were. I want answers. Was she just so good at hiding it because she believed no one should ever know? Was she in so much pain that she felt this was the best or only solution? Was she suffering from delusions that led her to fully believe ending her or someone else's live was the right answer? Did she receive poor or uninformed treatment from the medical community, or was her treatment ineffective? Was she limited in her ability to seek or receive help because of geography or finances or health insurance or some other reason? Is there any answer to this at all, or is there, as is true in some cases, no why to be had?

The one thing I don't ask is whether she was tough enough or good enough or strong enough.

Some people recover and some people don't.

I wish everyone did.

I hope that when I write here of triumph and survival and strength, you'll know what I mean. And what I don't.

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