11 September 2018

'Sex, Suicide and Serotonin'* and why we need to talk about adult suicide more (TW)

'Sex, Suicide and Serotonin' and why we need to talk about adult suicide more

*This post comes with a trigger warning for the discussion of suicide*

Yesterday was world suicide prevention day, and it's something that dredges up bad memories for me, and it can be a little tough. But, it's a day that I'm glad exists because it starts up conversations that need to be had. 

I'm not sure if it's because of the age I am, or the type of content (in terms of literature, music, conversations, TV, films, social media etc) that I access, but a lot of discussion about suicide seems to be largely concerning young people. It's obviously incredibly tragic to lose a child to suicide, and the pain they must have gone through is unimaginable, but adult suicide or suicide attempts in adults seems to be a little more overlooked. A large part of this is down to sensationalism: we all heard about the terrible loss of a nine year old to suicide recently after he was bullied at school due to his sexuality. It hit the headlines because of the boy's age. And it's such an important topic to talk about and to get out in the open, but I think we should talk about adults too.

There's a tendency to cast suicide attempts that don't succeed off as 'attention seeking' (this is so problematic that I can't even begin to unpack it here), or a result of some kind of over-dramatic teenage emotion. Adult suicide attempts don't fit into this narrative, but this needs to change to include everyone: all sexes, all genders, all ages, all races, all sexualities, all body types. 

When I started reading Debbie Hampton's Sex, Suicide and Serotonin I was struck by the realisation that I'd never read a book about a fully grown adult (Debbie was in her early 40s at the time) attempting suicide. It got me thinking about other formats of content that I access, and it upset me to understand that I hadn't really come across it anywhere, apart from real life. 

This is, in part why I think Debbie's book is so important. Not only does it show the real problem we have with suicide throughout a lifespan, but it also showed the reality of a suicide attempt that doesn't result in one's death. Debbie was left severely brain damaged after consuming a concoction of pills and alcohol. Not knowing exactly what had been taken, or when, the doctors were unable to pump her stomach of the medicine and Debbie ended up in a coma.

When she woke up, a lot of basic functions had been lost. She could no longer talk, eat, write, or move as she had before. From that point on, Debbie has spent a number of years in recovery using a variety of different methods both from mainstream medicine, and alternative therapies.

I learnt SO much about the brain from this book. I learnt that our brains are a lot more malleable than I ever thought, and it's inspired me to really focus on some things that I want to alter in my life. I'm not talking about thinking myself into being happy (because I really don't think that's a 'thing'), but rather for example, playing badminton more regularly to help my brain develop skills to improve my abilities. 

This book was an incredible read, and definitely is something I wholeheartedly get behind: we need to talk about adult suicide more, and open up support for our parents, family friends, grandparents, and those that we've always thought are our rocks, but may be struggling. 

*Although this book was gifted to me, all words and opinions are my own*

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  1. I like the point you've raised about adult suicide often being left behind in discussions we have. Whilst yes, it's absolutely tragic when young people take their own life, it's equally as sad when an adult does the same. I'm adding this book to my TBR, looks really interesting

    Megan // pixieskiesblog.wordpress.com

  2. Thank you for reading and writing about my book. I'm glad you were able to take away some helpful info about your own brain. That was my sneaky intent. To entertain AND educate people about mental health and the brain. 😉


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