Zero Suicides2022-09-10

Always plan. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.

—Richard Cushing

Life hits everybody hard, at one time or another. At that time, suicides can occur. There are three simple ways to increase resilience and decrease risk for when the storm hits. If implemented and practiced widely, by everybody, I am convinced that they would reduce suicides towards zero in the years ahead.

The first one is shoring up your biological resilience. There is very clear convergent evidence from our work and that of others that taking daily omega-3 fatty acids, and low dose lithium (can be nutraceutical level dosage for those at low risk), can decrease suicidality. For those at high risk, new blood tests can match them to additional nutraceuticals and medications. Meditation and walks in nature help reduce biological over-reactivity to stress as well. They can and should be practiced by us all, daily.

The second one is shoring up the social resilience. There are well known risk factors for suicide. Identifying them by an honest yearly inventory, such as the one we developed, and working on reducing them with the help of family, friends, or clinicians, is doable right now. We do annual exams anyway with primary care doctors or pediatricians, this should be part of those annual exams. Confiding in supportive people and reaching out for help are to be de-stigmatized and encouraged.

The third one is shoring up psychological resilience. Making a point of daily finding things to be grateful about, that you can be hopeful for in the future, that you do significantly well, and that you are a hero to somebody for (even if, or especially if, that person is your parent or your child). These simple things can all prevent and lift somebody out of existential crises. We have developed a simple daily checklist called Self Therapy (as in therapy of self, and therapy by self), and have put it in a simple app. Journaling about these things on paper is another way to do it.

Isn’t it time we did better?

Live. Happier. Longer.