The 4th of August marks the 28th anniversary of my sister Heidi’s suicide. She had been a patient in a state psychiatric facility at the time. The belt from a robe became her noose. A fellow patient found her hanging in the shower. She had left no note.


I physically feel the terror of the horrific course of events. How could Heidi come to conceive this ending to her life? How long was she suffering with suicidal intent? Was the gesture impulsive or did she know when she awoke that morning that this would be the last day of her life?


Anyone who is considering suicide needs to have a plan–a Suicide Aversion Plan to STOP the mind from killing–and it is advisable to devise one in advance of a crisis. The best time to create one is when we are well so that the plan goes into effect in the event of a suicidal emergency:

— What actions can we take to postpone the decision to act on a suicidal impulse?

  • Participate in a diversion activity, e.g., listen/dance/sing to music, create art, take a bath
  • Call a caring friend
  • Go for a walk, preferably with a caring friend but alone if necessary
  • Pray/meditate (This is a valuable daily habit)
  • Make a gratitude list (This is a valuable daily habit)
  • Take a nap
  • Tell yourself that you can think about it TOMORROW


— Whom will we tell about the immense pain that spurs thoughts of suicide?

  • A psychotherapist or psychiatrist
  • A hotline worker
  • A chaplain
  • A support group
  • A family member
  • A dear friend
  • An Emergency Room nurse


— What are/were our dreams? What one thing can we do to sustain them?

— Who would wish for us to live? What one thing can we do to return in love to others?


The critical aspect of the Suicide Aversion Plan is that it must command full credence, having been composed by the rational mind, even if the suicidal mind tries to argue against it. Our full faith and trust must remain with our rational self. The immense pain that spurs thoughts of suicide will change and will pass. If we are incapacitated by the pain then we must convalesce. Treat yourself with the utmost of tender care.


A wise person once gave me a sign that read: Keep breathing! I always thought that meant to not hold my breath, a rigidity that suppressed feelings. Only recently did I realize that this was an instruction to release anything that impelled me to kill myself and therefore stop breathing! Keep breathing!


If you are feeling suicidal, resiliency education is not of utmost importance right now. If you are in imminent danger, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room, preferably at a hospital that has an excellent reputation for behavioral healthcare. If you need to see your psychiatrist or psychotherapist on an emergency basis, please contact him/her and express the urgency.

“Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, it is not the end!” – Unknown

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